What is wrong with my pepper plants? Some of them are showing deformations on young leaves. See this picture: crippled leaves Some of them are showing small holes or cracks, usually with brown edges. Some have irregular shapes, not the typical pepper leaf shape. I can not find any signs of pests, except that I had a very minor case of aphids (less than 20 insects per plant) in the past two weeks. They are 99% gone now. Is this damage caused by them?

I'm watering once every 1-3 days depending on temperature. The plants are in pots outside on my south/west facing balcony. I'm using 3g/liter of FloraSelf Tomato Fertilizer:

(N)     6 %
(P2O5)  5 %
(K2O)   9 %
(B)     0,01 %
(Cu)    0,002 %
(Fe)    0,02 %
(Mn)    0,01 %
(Mo)    0,001 %
(Zn)    0,002 %

I just pulled one plant out of its pot and this is what the roots look like: roots

Any Ideas?

  • I'm still looking into this myself. Could be disease, could be bugs could be a nutrient deficiency I think calcium. Could also be related to temperature. The condition is called leaf curl and if you search for that you should find a lot of info. In most cases it won't hurt the plant or production much. By the way what are you growing the plants in? Is that lava rock? Are you growing them hydroponically? Commented Jun 10, 2016 at 4:07
  • @OrganicLawnDIY I was also thinking nurtient deficiency, but I can't find anything online that looks quite like the problem I have. I noticed that my fertilizer doesn't contain any magnesium but I don't know if that's a problem or not. I'm growing the plants in regular flower soil, nothing special. The orange stuff is a thin layer (< 1 inch) of clay granulate at the bottom of the pot against waterlogging.
    – unignore
    Commented Jun 10, 2016 at 12:44
  • the clay at the bottom actually makes drainage worse. Like I said though could be a lot of reasons why the leaves are doing this and no way to really know. Commented Jun 10, 2016 at 15:31

1 Answer 1


The roots look healthy enough. Given it's a pepper it's probably ok it is getting potbound, but it will need a new pot (only 1" to 2" bigger though) sometime. I guess you know removing a plant from its pot is very stressful for the plant so only do it when repotting.

Leaves look very like they're being attacked by something, probably an insect. I doubt it would be the aphids, although if the affected leaves were very young at the time of attack it just could be. More likely would be some sort of leaf miner. As the name suggests, they live inside the leaves -- between the top and bottom, so you never normally see them. The plant tends to curl up in response. Sometimes you can see where they have eaten the cells from within the leaf, but you need to look very carefully.

If there are just a few leaves so affected, I would be tempted to pull them off and destroy (as in fire, et al) them, but don't remove lots: in that case, seek further help.

P.S. To my mind the amount of watering seems on the verge of too much. I think of peppers as plants that produce the best fruit if they are under watered. That is, water (well) when the compost is dry, and then not again until it is quite dry again. I would expect that interval to be 7-10 days. It may be that your variety differs, or I'm just wrong, though.

  • I agree with a bigger pot. But I think the leaves are just showing some stress because of small pot. Commented Jun 9, 2016 at 11:50
  • Thanks for this great answer. In case of leaf miners, should I then not be able to see any flies (adult leaf miners) or something like that? I'll also repot into a bigger pot and reduce the watering a bit.
    – unignore
    Commented Jun 9, 2016 at 19:35
  • Turned out that the damage was indeed caused by aphids. After getting rid of them - by basically hand-picking them of the plants - all newly growing leaves were fine. Only the generation of leaves that were young while there were aphids on the plant were damaged.
    – unignore
    Commented Jul 27, 2016 at 10:51

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