I have one chilli plant that has wrinkled leaves. The other plants in the pot (I know, I know) appear to be fine.

It has been like this for some time now, so I think I can rule out stress. It also doesn't seem to be getting any worse, and there are no signs of infestation, so I don't think it's an insect.

I'm thinking that maybe it's just the runt of the pot. It's the smallest plant.


  • I took a small magnifying glass to the plant. Fairly sure there are no insects.
  • On the smaller leaves, the edges curl down.
  • Upon closer inspection of the neighbouring plants, 2 show similar symptoms on 2-3 newer leaves next to the problem plant.

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  • Are they all the same breed of pepper? What temperatures are they exposed to, especially at night? How is your watering? I can tell they have plenty of nitrogen, at least! (Shiny very geen leaves.) Have you tried calcium? Commented Jan 2, 2018 at 23:30
  • 1
    I believe this one is a Carolina Reaper. I can't be 100% sure as it has never produced fruit. I have three different breeds. The rest appear fine, and some have produced fruit.
    – Megasaur
    Commented Jan 3, 2018 at 2:23
  • 1
    Sorry, hit enter. Rest of comment: There is another Reaper and 2 habaneros and 2 birds eyes (crowded, I know). Temperatures range from 22-35C (71-95F) during the day, maybe 18-28C (65-82F) at night. The weather is a bit crazy at the moment. I also started adding some phosphor and potassium every 2-3 weeks at around half the recommended amounts (this seems to have had a positive effect on the fruit). Again, the other plants appear to be fine.
    – Megasaur
    Commented Jan 3, 2018 at 2:36
  • Reapers can get huge plants, for peppers. Space may be especially helpful for them. However, it may not be the cause of the weird leaves. How big is the container? Commented Jan 3, 2018 at 3:08
  • 1
    At least 50cm across. It’s a large pot, but it’s definitely crowded. I’m planning on replacing the plants next season but hoping to learn as much as I can while I grow the new plants.
    – Megasaur
    Commented Jan 4, 2018 at 3:40

1 Answer 1


It is amazing how the owner, grower always feels what the real problem is. And we professionals always listen. You are so very right, something is very very wrong. Could have been insects at the beginning but it is looking like a virus. Possibly too much nitrogen? Better yet, are you a smoker? Got smoker friends? Tobacco is a major virus vector. You won't believe how much.

These symptoms look like a virus. Have you looked with a magnifying glass at these leaves? Especially beneath the leaves? This could be insect and let us hope so. Virus? ummmm, you aren't going to have much luck with these plants. I think from your pictures and from what you've said that this is viral and not so great for this plant.

I am worried about the pot within the pot I am seeing in the pictures. Usually means very bad drainage which could amplify problems.

Did you use sterile potting soil?

Oh heck, do you smoke? Do you have friends that smoke? Just the touch of a smoker's fingers could cause this. Sorry. Let us know, okay?

Tobacco mosaic virus

  • Care to cite any references on your smoking/virus assertion?
    – Tim Nevins
    Commented Jan 3, 2018 at 13:53
  • I added a site for you. The trouble is, at plant stores, people are touching and breathing on starts. Someone buys them and takes them home already infected. So you don't have to be a smoker. At my nurseries I posted signs and had hand wipes everywhere. I had a little demo table with examples of plants with TMV. Tomatoes, peppers, eggplant...are very susceptible.
    – stormy
    Commented Jan 3, 2018 at 21:22
  • Yep, looked under the leaves. Cannot find anything that might be an insect. I raised all the plants from seeds. They have not been exposed to tabacco smoke unless it’s the neighbours below me.
    – Megasaur
    Commented Jan 4, 2018 at 3:45
  • What soil did you use? Did it come from a garden out of doors where vegetables were or are being grown? Sure looks viral to me. Virus can also be transmitted by aphids, scale, other sucking or piercing insects that happened to be in the garden soil.
    – stormy
    Commented Jan 4, 2018 at 9:19
  • Just potting mix.
    – Megasaur
    Commented Jan 8, 2018 at 5:21

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