One of the most common problems with pepper plants is wilting leaves. Most of the time, a little bit of water will do the trick and help them come back to a healthy state. However, if you’re looking for more methods to save your pepper plant, I have a few go-to tricks.
Here are six tips for reviving your wilting pepper plants:
- Check the soil’s moisture.
- Provide shade to your plant.
- Manage the soil’s pH.
- Bring pepper plants indoors during the cold.
- Observe and maintain your plant care routine.
- Check and, if possible, treat the plant’s diseases.
In this article, I will go over a few common causes of wilting pepper plants. And as you read on, you will learn how to utilize these tips to revive wilting peppers in your garden.
1. Check the Soil’s Moisture
In some cases, your pepper plants may be wilting because of overwatering. That is why it could do more harm than good when you water your plant the instant you see it wilting.
It’s essential to check the soil moisture before deciding whether your plant needs more water or less of it. It is worth noting that giving your plants the proper amount of moisture isn’t as simple as pouring in the “right” amount every day.
Sometimes, the soil becomes hydrophobic and doesn’t absorb water as it should. Other times, too much shade makes for plants that don’t dry off well, leaving your plants moldy.
Additionally, getting the correct water temperature is as important as the amount of water. Being sure your plants are drying in between cycles keeps your soil healthy.
You should consider watering your pepper plant thoroughly once a week and allowing the water to drain through the soil or pot entirely.
On the hottest of summer days, you may consider using a moisture meter or feeling with your fingers to see if an extra watering session is necessary. You always need to check first because even if we feel hot, our plants may still be working through the water.
Adding a splash of water to your pepper plant and making sure the roots are getting moist usually brings plants back to life. Put the hose on your plant, take a step back, and wait for your plant to be reinvigorated. It can take several hours, so be patient.
Another important thing to consider is that potted plants may require pure water sources like rainwater, distilled water, or filtered water. Depending on your area, municipal water may contain more minerals that can accumulate in the soil over time, depriving your plant’s roots of moisture.
Root hairs absorb water through osmosis. If the surrounding soil has a higher mineral concentration, the roots will have difficulty absorbing water. Alternating your water source between tap water and filtered water can flush the soil of unwanted salts.
If you think your watering technique can use a little work, I suggest purchasing a moisture meter for your garden. Moisture meters work wonders and can tell you about more than just moisture, such as pH.
2. Provide Shade to Your Plant
Peppers are delicious and have a little bit of a spicy kick. Some variants can be very spicy, making them more appealing to some people who want extra spiciness.
Because of this, many of us assume that peppers can take extra high heat. However, this isn’t the case. Like the rest of your veggies, peppers need some shade and relief every once in a while. This is especially true if you live in an area with a hot, humid climate.
We know how vital air and soil temperature is. We triple-check what zone our garden is in, why we plant in the spring instead of the winter, and why we (unfortunately) can’t grow plants like coconut trees anywhere we’d like.
Pepper plants like a temperature higher than 60 °F (15.5 °C) but nothing above 95 °F (32.2 °C) for too long. Keep in mind that some regions of your garden may gather heat differently.
If you have a garden underneath or near a reflective surface, like a tin roof, the heat may be different than across the garden near a pond.
You can check the temperature of your soil with a moisture meter or thermometer. Otherwise, you can look at the temperature on your weather app to see if your plants are being exposed to heat that may be too much for them.
You can fix your wilting pepper plant by moving it into the shade or adding some shade if it’s sown into the ground. There are plant shades you can buy online or some that you can quickly build yourself.
This video shows how to build a simple plant shade using things you likely already have:
3. Manage the Soil’s pH
Soil pH is another one of those things you should look into if you’re worried about the health of your garden. If you’ve noticed that all of your plants, not just your pepper plants, seem to be wilting or not growing to their full potential, you may have a pH problem.
You will know the acidity or alkalinity of your garden by checking the soil pH. Despite the many nutrients in your soil, your plants can’t access them unless the pH is correct. Only certain nutrients are available at certain pH levels.
The scale goes from 0-14, with 7 being a true neutral and most plants liking something around 6.8, just barely acidic. Only a few plants like blueberries prefer an acidic soil environment.
Pepper plants, like most plants, want soil just slightly acidic between 6.5-7.0 on the pH scale. At this level, the plant can get plenty of phosphorus and potassium as long as they are available in your soil.
To test your plant soil’s pH, you can buy an online testing kit or send a sample to a lab.
It’s crucial to prepare the soil and ensure it has suitable qualities before growing your pepper plant in it. That way, you won’t have to go through the tedious process of changing soil pH while the plants are growing. Instead, you can just maintain it at optimum levels.
You can often fix highly acidic soil with liming. Unfortunately, there are no quick fixes for adjusting your soil pH. Mulching and composting usually help balance soil pH. However, even with mulch and compost, you need to check the soil pH monthly to ensure it stays suitable for your pepper plant.
This video shows how to utilize the liming technique for more alkaline soil:
Whatever fix you use, practice patience and only do the recommended amount. Doubling the lime in your soil won’t adjust the pH any faster, but it will give you further issues with your soil pH.
It also helps to remember that liming is not an instant fix if you need to increase the soil pH. The process takes time and trying to speed up the process may be counterproductive. On the other hand, lowering the soil pH also takes time.
4. Bring Pepper Plants Indoors During the Cold
Hot weather can wilt your pepper plants, and so can cold weather.
As mentioned above, pepper plants thrive in places where the temperature is above 60 °F (15.6 °C) even at night. If you’re experiencing chillier temperatures than usual, bring your pepper plants in from the cold and put them back out when it’s warmer.
Pepper plants, especially younger ones, may suffer from stress when there are sudden changes in temperatures. They can manifest this through the wilting of their leaves.
Check the weather forecast regularly and keep your plant indoors for as long as possible until the outside temperature becomes steadily warmer. You can move your plants back outdoors when the threat of the last frost passes.
However, this method only works with potted pepper plants. Those planted into your garden soil may benefit from plastic mulching. You can spread a layer of black plastic on the ground and cut big enough holes for your plants to grow.
Many gardeners grow peppers as annuals when grown outdoors. If you want to keep your pepper plant as a perennial (depending on the variety), it’s best to sow them in pots or inside a greenhouse where you can regulate the temperatures.
5. Observe and Maintain Your Plant Care Routine
Many of us begin our pepper plants inside. As it gets sunnier and they start to grow, we move them outdoors to their “natural” habitat and think mother nature will just take it from there. However, you raised your pepper plants from seeds to sprouts, and they remember all of the love and care you gave them.
If you don’t keep your house at around 80 °F (26.7 °C) and once it starts to get hot outdoors, your peppers will be shocked by the heat. The bottom line is that you should allow your plants to gradually adjust to the outside temperatures.
Plants can feel stressed from the sudden change in the environment. There are a few strategies you can attempt if their leaves have begun wilting due to stress. Figure out what in your routine changed, and then go from there.
For example, you can leave them in the pots for a bit longer instead of sowing them straight into the ground to move them out of the sun and back into the shade whenever necessary.
If water quality seems to be the element that changed, invest in a watering can and feed your peppers with filtered water. Regardless of the season, always use room-temperature water (about 68 °F or 20 °C) for your plants.
6. Check and, if Possible, Treat the Plant’s Diseases
One or a couple of the strategies above are likely to help your pepper plants regain their vitality and produce fruit. Otherwise, there’s a possibility that a wilting pepper plant has experienced a pest infestation or root rot.
Below, I will share some more about common pepper plant diseases, how to look for them, and what can be done to salvage your plant or the rest of your garden:
Root rot can be caused by watering your pepper plants too much and not letting the soil drain completely. When soil gathers at the bottoms of plants near the roots, a moldy rot can begin forming.
You’ll notice rapidly wilting pepper plants that soon die, even after watering. You can pull up this dead plant and see the decayed black roots.
Once wilting occurs due to root rot, it will be impossible to save the plant. However, after confirming that it is the cause of wilting, you can check the other nearby plants and, hopefully, remedy the situation before they start dying.
Your watering techniques have everything to do with root rot, though sometimes you may have just gotten the unlucky pick at the plant nursery. Invest in an irrigation system or moisture meter to give you more insight into how your pepper plants take up water.
If you are using a pot for your pepper plants, clean it out thoroughly with some bleach and water before beginning again and disposing of all infected soil. It is best to use sterile materials to prevent the spread of diseases and suffering from the same issues again.
Many things can cause bug infestations. You may have grabbed a plant that already had an infestation, a nearby plant may have passed some bugs on, or a swarm of insects may have found your garden and decided to make it a home.
Other than the wilting, you may notice tiny holes in your plant leaves or the most obvious symptom–bugs flying around. Pepper weevils and pepper hornworms are typical suspects and the usual garden pests.
To get rid of bugs in your plant, you can use a natural remedy like neem oil or soap and water. Additionally, make sure your garden has many little helper bugs, like ladybugs. These little helpers will eat or get rid of the things that aren’t supposed to be there.
If you live in the south, southern blight may be causing your wilted pepper plants. Southern blight typically happens in hot, humid climates.
If you find that southern blight has caused the wilting of your plants, you’ll need to pack up and garden elsewhere while you treat the soil with the disease.
Plants suffering from this condition are beyond saving, and you’ll need to consider growing your plants in pots. If so, be sure to get your potting soil from a reliable source to avoid other possible diseases from infecting your new pepper plants.
Pepper plant leaves commonly wilt when they need more water. If you’ve noticed your pepper plant has become droopy, check the soil moisture and adjust watering accordingly. Additionally, you can check your pepper plant’s lighting, soil pH, and temperature.
Sometimes, a wilting pepper plant can signify something more nefarious, like root rot or an infestation of pests. Unfortunately, you can’t revive your pepper plant after an infestation.
Still, you can thoroughly wash your pot or further protect your remaining pepper plants from infestation with natural supplements like neem oil.