Growing chillies is a very rewarding endeavour, as you can make delicious recipes with chillies straight from your garden. Some common problems may occur as you grow your plants, even if you choose the right chilli varieties for your conditions. Spotting the following issues as quickly as possible gives your plants better chances of healthy life-cycles.
Nutrient Deficiencies in Chilli Plants
Like other plants, chillies require a wide variety of nutrients for optimum growing. Should these nutrients not be in the amount chillies need, your plants will present certain symptoms:
Iron. Low iron levels will lead to new plant growth having yellow or white patches between the leaf veins. These patches can spread across the entire leaf.
Potassium. The leaf edges of new growth become yellow, with these areas potentially becoming pinholes.
Magnesium. Leaf veins remain green while old leaves become yellow, starting from the leaf’s end and inwards.
Manganese. A manganese deficiency translates into long, interveinal holes and yellow spots in old growth.
Calcium. While old growth remains unaffected, new growth becomes curled and crumpled.
Nitrogen. With a nitrogen deficiency, you’ll find the oldest part of the plant is affected first. The leaves become yellow from the edge to the stem, and the damage moves up the plant progressively.
Phosphorus. If a phosphorus deficiency isn’t detected in time, the damage consisting of older leaves becoming dark green or purple will move up the plant progressively.
Common Diseases Affecting Chillies
Make sure to check your chilli plant symptoms against these common diseases:
As a fungal disease, powdery mildew presents symptoms such as white and powdery fungal patches spreading on either lower leaves or upper leaves, in fruits, and in flowers. From spring onwards, you may notice plant tissue becoming distorted or stunted, or barely any symptoms in the early stages with plants turning a different colour change.
What to do: With powdery mildew, it’s best to apply prevention methods such as ensuring that plants have enough space between them so air flows properly and plants dry between watering.
Blossom End Rot
Blossom end rot is a physiological problem in plants, caused by a lack of calcium nutrients in plants’ fruits. Symptoms present as a circular patch of a green-black colour at the furthest end of the fruit from the plant. This area of rot increases in size and becomes sunken in, giving fruits a flattened look at the end that is affected.
What to do: Keep moisture levels constant and make sure that your plant feed doesn’t have too much nitrogen. Nitrogen can make plants’ calcium intake diminished, so it’s advisable to help the uptake of calcium with magnesium sulphate. Any affected fruits aren’t salvageable, so they must be removed to avoid plant stress.
When watering during the hotter hours of the day, any water that is splashed onto the leaves will act like a magnifying glass and scorch the leaves. The affected areas in plants present white or brown marks at the edges, clearly separated from healthy leaf tissue. These areas often become very thin and almost transparent and the leaf tissue dies.
What to do: Leaf burn can be prevented easily by watering plants early in the morning or late in the evening to avoid hours of most heat. When watering, make sure to avoid splashing any leaves. Thankfully, unless the burn is too severe, plants tend to not be too affected.
Common in chinense varieties during the early season of chillies, the first flowers may not set or they may drop very quickly. This issue often solves itself, but there are a few common reasons for flowers dropping before developing into the chilli pods you’re expecting.
Flower drop can be caused by a pollination failure, unstable temperatures, overwatering, underwatering, or overfeeding with the wrong nutrients.
What to do: Should pollination be the issue, you can gently shake the flowers to allow them to self-pollinate better or gently brush from flower to flower to copy pollinators. A high potassium feed after flowering can help the overfeeding issue, and a water butt irrigation system can help prevent overwatering and underwatering. Make sure to have a greenhouse temperature control to keep a constant and stable temperature for your chilli plants.
Bacterial Leaf Spot
Caused by bacteria from the Pseudonomas or Xanthomonas family, infections occur in stems, foliage, and fruits. After plants suffer a lesion, these pathogens take advantage and infects plants, thriving from wet and cool conditions. The Pseudonomas bacteria will cause symptoms such as red-brown spots that often distort leaves while the Xanthomonas causes brown spots that are bordered by a yellow hue.
What to do: Bacterial leaf spot originates from soil or water with the bacteria that is splashed onto your plants. Plants should be watered slowly and spaced to allow for proper ventilation.
By providing chilli plants with the ideal greenhouse equipment and the right conditions, you are sure to have strong and healthy plants.
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