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I've had these pepper plants for a year and a half now. They weren't 100% healthy when I bought them. The actual plan was to pick the fruits and then bin the plants, but I felt bad doing that! They had gotten lots of bugs on my balcony, so I applied soapy water and alcohol and rinsed and replanted them. They have been doing great, giving me good fruits, but I could never get rid of the curly leaves. (Here is my previous question regarding this.)

A while back I went away for a month, (I attempted to give them a self-watering system), and came back to see lots of leaves that looked burnt/dried. I trimmed them, and they had started doing okay again, but now there are loads and loads of annoying brown bugs. I've applied an alcohol/soapy water spray over and over, but it hasn't helped. The last time was around 10 days ago when I was going to leave for a week, and I decided that I'd bin them forever if the bugs weren't gone when I got back. Not only are they still there, but there are many more of them, and they're killing all the blooms and baby fruits.

Is it worth attempting to fix them or should I just bin the whole thing?

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P.S. They're next to my tomato boxes, all sitting inside a south-facing window shelf. I confess that some of the tomatoes are also mildly infected, but since the tomatoes won't last long, I'm not too worried.

I have a bonsai ficus, and some African violets, on the other end of the house, at the north-facing windows, and I'm paranoid that they've got the curly leaves from these peppers as well. (It's not just paranoia, as I think I can see that the leaves are curled!)

I've also gotten a cactus recently, and I hope that one survives!

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To be frank, I'd bin them without a second's hesitation, and would have done so a while back, and that's what I recommend to you. They're serving no useful purpose other than as a source of infection to your other plants, but it may be too late, the aphid infestation may already have spread to those too - use neem spray to treat them with.

Curled leaves on African violets often indicates cyclamen mite, but I'm not at all sure that's a problem where you live. Inspect the backs of the leaves and every part of the plant to see what you can find.

  • Thanks Bamboo. I binned them all, and sterilized the soil in oven for over half an hour. Is there any other way to disinfect the whole house somehow?! I have few bugs on the tomatoes, and those saintpaulias, the bonsai and the cactus are all in the other side of the house, but well...! – Neeku Oct 25 '15 at 0:41
  • Oops! I think I missed the neem spray in your response. Will try that, too. – Neeku Oct 25 '15 at 0:44
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Bamboo is probably right, by the look of it.

However, if you really want to try to save the plants, and don't care about the risk of infection to other plants, I have some thoughts for you.

  1. Manually remove all the visible pests (every day). You don't need pesticides for those.
  2. Give your peppers a lot of light. The more sunlight your peppers have, the less pests should be interested in them. In my experience, shaded plants attract pests really, really easily compared to plants in full sun. The opposite seems to be true for pollinators. The sunlight will encourage growth, too, and strengthen/feed the plant. Just make sure the change isn't too sudden.
  3. Give it potassium, calcium and silica. Those help provide insect resistance.
  4. Apply neem oil.
  5. Make sure there aren't other plants harboring the pests to reinfect your peppers.
  6. Close the windows. Pests may come in through the windows.
  7. Give it some sea minerals. See my comment. They seemed to strengthen my indoor pepper plant against spider mites, anyway, so far. Peppers seem to like sea minerals. I think the world's heaviest pepper actually had some seawater. Of course, I'm thinking you don't want to overdo it. See the comments.

That being said, aphids can seem pretty magical at times. I had some on mint from an outdoor cutting that just wouldn't go away no matter what I tried (though I didn't try neem oil). If I ever grow indoor mint again, I plan to grow it from seed, or from a trusted plant (not an outdoor one). I think that's a different species of aphid than is on your peppers, though. Hopefully those aren't as bad.

  • Thanks Shule. This is pretty helpful, even though I binned them all. I had them indoors at a south facing window, but since I live in Ireland, I don't have much choice to provide more sun for them! That's probably why they got bugs at first stage anyhow. – Neeku Oct 25 '15 at 0:42
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    It sounds quite counterintuitive because of the high sodium chloride content, but I've read that sea minerals (used for remineralization and encouraging microbes) may be helpful in preventatively protecting plants against pests. It's basically just unrefined sea salt that you dilute considerably. You can use it as a foliar spray or in the soil, but don't use very much. I plan to experiment with it and see if it really is helpful or harmful. Since you probably live near the sea, you can probably just get sea water for free and dilute it if you want (so long as it's not too polluted). – Shule Oct 26 '15 at 20:39
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    Oh! This is very interesting. Never knew about it. Can try it on my tomatoes maybe. I usually use the water from the electric dehumidifier that sucks the water in the air and turns in liquid water. I'm not sure how rich it is in minerals, (probably isn't), but I use plant food as well. Can be good mixing it with sea water! (: – Neeku Oct 27 '15 at 13:11
  • If seawater is about 3.5% sea minerals, and if with a foliar spray you can mix one teaspoon solid sea minerals per gallon of regular water, and a teaspoon is 1/768th of a gallon, and 3.5% of 768 is 26.88 teaspoons of sea minerals per gallon of seawater. Then you could dilute it about 27 times as much. 1 part seawater to 25.88 parts regular water, for a foliar spray. seaagri.com/foliar_applications.htm says this about their solid sea minerals: "Mix one teaspoon SEA-90 per gallon, and apply until runoff every 7-14 days." So you could spray about every 7-14 days, probably. – Shule Oct 27 '15 at 18:57
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    Just as an FYI, I got some sea minerals and gave them to an ailing indoor Purple Beauty pepper plant (which had constant spider mites and some kind of fungal infection on and off). I gave it sea minerals (in the soil) and it actually is doing quite well, so far. The leaves aren't dying, and the plant looks happy. Hopefully it keeps up! :) I gave it more than is recommended for a foliar spray, though. The spider mites are still trying to mount an assault (I see little insects and webs), but the plant doesn't seem bothered. I'm still removing the insects and webs when I find them. – Shule Nov 11 '15 at 17:31

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