Black spots - sunburn?

cjohansenApril 3, 2013

A couple of weeks ago I decided to do a small experiment: pot one of my healthiest Jalapeños into a big-ish pot. It's so big that it doesn't fit in my grow frame, but luckily we've had good sun during the day for some time now, so I moved it permanently to the kitchen table. Here it enjoys full sun 6-10 hours a day (depending on whether or not I am home to move it throughout the day).

I noticed that the plant has developed lots of dark spots on its leaves. I'm a total beginner, so this may mean nothing. But I'm curious if it can be either sunburn, or too little light (like I said, as little as 6 hours of direct sunlight). Or some deficiency of some sort.

One of the lower leaves on the "sick" plant:

One of the top leaves:

Some leaves on another Jalapeño that was sowed on the same day. It's received the exact same treatment, except it's in a smaller pot and mostly gets artificial lighting. However, I do put it on the windowsill as well almost daily. When I do, it's there 7-8 hours, enjoying full sun (through the window).

The two plants, side by side (the right one being the spotty one):

The healthy-looking plant is subjected to a fan on a semi-regular basis, the spotty one is not. The spotty one has sat through a little bit of draft as the porch door has been open on sunny days, but it's never gotten very low temperatures.

What say ye, people of vast experience?

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That doesn't look like sunburn to me. Sunburn usually puts a whitish-silvery sheen over a broad area of the leaf, then gradually withers or just stays the same.

No idea what you have. It looks kind of like the damage you get after spraying a leaf with Safer's soap to control aphids.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2013 at 5:36PM
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I haven't sprayed anything on it. All the leaves have lots of black spots on them. Looks kinda like dirt splattering from watering, except it isn't. Even new leaves have it. :(

    Bookmark   April 4, 2013 at 5:59PM
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have you possibly overdosed with fertilizer? I know it can leave burns that look similar to that.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2013 at 6:20PM
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I guess that's possible, although not very likely. I have only given it fertilizer twice I think. And I've not given it any more fertilizer than any of my other plants, and this is the biggest one. However, the bigger pot probably caused it to absorb more fertilizer.

Is there a fix? Wash out the soil? Wait?

    Bookmark   April 4, 2013 at 6:42PM
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Tomorrow I'm going to take out my watering wand and drench my plants (I'm thinking I over fertilized mine - not all are having problems, but some are) - I'm waiting until it warms up so they won't get waterlogged.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2013 at 9:23PM
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Ohiofem(6a Ohio)

That plant looks fine to me. Try not to overthink these things. I would be more concerned about overwatering. Why do you have aluminum foil around the bottom of the pots? Plants need air as well as water and food.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2013 at 10:54PM
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The foil sits loosely around the pot. It's there to keep my house relatively dirt free :) I guess I am over thinking things. Thanks!

    Bookmark   April 5, 2013 at 2:37AM
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I think your plant is fine. Sun burn or sun damage comes in many different forms. I burned leaves plenty of times my first two seasons. I had a habanero leaves burn brown, two Bhuts burned white and a few other a silver sheen. Thats when i found out dont harden off in mid-afternoon sun lol, i now harden off with the morning sun it works out better. So it could be slight sun burn or not but at this point if its not getting worse would not worry.


    Bookmark   April 5, 2013 at 7:36AM
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The plant definitely is not fine. The new foliage at the top stopped growing entirely, and turned spotty black and wrinkled. I figured I could try pruning the plant to see if it would branch out lower. Well, two weeks later the plant looks pretty much the same. Just noticed one of its few remaining leaves have fallen off. Will probably can the plant. It's my first to die, and I have many, but I'm still curious what happened to it...

    Bookmark   April 23, 2013 at 1:30AM
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Ohiofem(6a Ohio)

So sorry to hear your story. I'm wondering now if it might have been some kind of fungus, like possibly sooty mold. Just in case it's contagious, you should probably throw away the potting mix it was in and clean the pot well before using it again. Have any of your other plants shown similar symptoms?

    Bookmark   April 23, 2013 at 9:57AM
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Nothing similar anywhere. As this is the only plant I've put in this size container, my only remaining suspicion is that it may have gotten soggy feet. If so I guess I should find some rotten roots, so I'll perform an autopsy soon.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2013 at 12:45PM
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chilliwin(EU DK 7)

I do not think that is sunburned. Within a few hours I know my plants got sunburned. The color of the leaves may different as other posters mentioned. The tender leaves usually pale/silver/whitish/transparent and old leaves sometimes looks a bit brown. Even in the shaded place I should not put my seedlings long time but I put very long time as a result I lost many healthy plants. As much as possible the shortest time in the shaded area is the best. Once it burned then there is no solution. The plant may die or have to wait many days/weeks for new leaves.

Partially sunburned leaves:

I had similar problems like yours. I did not get any solution and I think it was soil and nutrients related. When the soil are too dry then the nutrients are locked cause so many problems to the plants. When the bottom soils are dried and the upper are wet the plants do not die but the plant may have many problems.

The discoloration of the leaves like yours won't kill the plants.


    Bookmark   April 23, 2013 at 3:45PM
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The plant finally caved today. I kept it around for quite some time. It started putting on some new growth, and I originally picked all the original leaves. The new growth looked great, so I was kinda excited. Then a sudden draft sent it smashing to the floor, and the stem broke, leaving the plant with no leaves at all. So that was it. Took a look at the root ball, and it was nice and big, so it doesn't seem like there was really anything wrong with the plant.

    Bookmark   May 11, 2013 at 7:12PM
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I bet you it would grow back.

    Bookmark   May 11, 2013 at 11:18PM
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I wouldn't be surprised, but honestly I could use the pot for another plant, and I still have more or less too many, so that was it :)

    Bookmark   May 12, 2013 at 4:12AM
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