UCCE Master Gardeners of Orange County
University of California
UCCE Master Gardeners of Orange County

Edible Plants

Peppers, problems

Flower Drop, Poor Fruit Set

If the flowers on your pepper plants drop off or don’t set fruit, the most likely cause is that temperatures are too cold.

Symptoms – plants grow slowly; flowers form but drop off before fruit develops.

Solution - Peppers are warm weather plants, and need at least 6 hours of direct sun daily. They also need a long warm growing season, with daytime temperatures of 75-85°F and night time temperatures between 55-65°F.  They grow slowly in cool weather and are frost-sensitive. The other possibility is the variety of pepper planted is not adapted to your area – check to be sure the variety will grow in your area.

Wait for warmer weather and see if the peppers grow and set fruit better, or replant when weather warms up. Be sure to plant varieties adapted for your climate.

Read more about pepper varieties.

Blossom End Rot

If your peppers have developed a sunken, water-soaked spot at the end of the fruit, the problem may be blossom end rot.

Peppers blossom end rot
Blossom end rot is a physiological disease that is caused by environmental conditions, not a microorganism. The disease is not associated with soil contact or with damage to other plant parts.

Symptoms – A large, water-soaked spot develops at the end of ripening peppers.  The spot gets larger, turns black and mold may develop.
It is caused by a low level of calcium in the fruit and water balance in the plant, made worse by high soil salt and low soil moisture.

Solutions - Water consistently to keep the roots evenly moist but not soggy. Fertilize according to package instructions. Since the disease is not caused by a pathogen, pesticides are not effective.

Misshapen Fruit

If the fruit on your pepper plants is oddly shaped and the yield is low, your plant may have pepper weevils.

pepper weevil
Adult pepper weevils are small, dark, robust snout beetles with beaks longer than their head and thorax. Larvae and pupae can be found inside fruit.

Peppers with weevil damage
Damage - Buds or fruits turn yellow, and may drop from the plant. The remaining pods may become misshapen and develop yellow or red blotches. The pods are marred by holes.

Solutions - Destroying pepper plants as soon as the harvest is over should reduce weevil problems the following year. Rotate crops, not replanting where other nightshade family members have grown. The nightshade family includes peppers, tomatoes, eggplant and white potatoes.

Read more about pest management for peppers.

If you can’t find the answer on the site, don’t despair! We also have the capacity to personally assist you through our hotline.  Just contact us by email or by phone (voicemail) at 949 809-9760 and we will respond to your inquiry.
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