Please have a look at these images of my hot pepper plant. Notice the growing tips which seem withered and diseased.

What disease is this and what is causing this? What are the solutions to counter this?

Location: India. Weather In May-June: Hot! > 95F days.

enter image description here enter image description here

  • Are there any insects? Green fly (aphids) can cause this kind of damage. If so, you'll see them clustered around the juicy growing buds.
    – winwaed
    Jun 27 '12 at 12:26
  • @winwaed - No, I don't see any aphids or other insects.
    – gatul
    Jun 27 '12 at 21:33
  • What I think I'm seeing is a repeated failure to set fruit - yes? Two wild guesses: too much water, or too much heat (days over 95F/nights over 80F). If too much heat, consider using a light-colored, fluffy mulch to try to reduce soil temperature, like grass clippings.
    – Ed Staub
    Jun 28 '12 at 3:53
  • @EdStaub - Yes, it was hot! But I thought peppers loved heat?
    – gatul
    Jun 29 '12 at 2:52
  • What kind of pepper is it?
    – Ed Staub
    Jun 29 '12 at 16:23

That is a type of leaf curl, most likely viral. Here are some comparison photos:

enter image description here enter image description here

You cannot treat viral infections in peppers. Destroy the plants, and rotate your garden so that the peppers are in another area next season.


Peppers may drop blossoms and not set fruit at air temperatures as low as 85F. But many also germinate best with high temperature (~85F). At 95F, you're into a stress zone.

Another source indicates that night air temperatures above 75F suppress fruit-setting. If this is really all you need to get to, you might be able to do it by moving the plant indoors at night (if potted, and if you have air conditioning), or by misting at night. Misting may cause mold/mildew problems, though.

Also, they need insect (or hand) pollination, so if growing indoors (unlikely in your case!) you need to hand-pollinate.

I'd guess (based on NO info), that if you can keep the soil temperature down it might set some fruit even at 95F air temperature. Once the fruit is set, it will grow even in elevated temperatures. If you get a lot of blossoms at once when it's hot, you might consider removing some. Pruning may also help to allow the plant to get enough water up from the ground. And as I commented above - mulch to reduce soil temperatures and eliminate surface drying. Again - this paragraph is all guesswork!

  • I don't think it is a problem of fruit set, as much as some infection.Please have a look at the photos - the growing shoots look like something is sucking the life out of them. Do you agree?
    – gatul
    Jun 30 '12 at 3:57
  • Sorry, I don't see it - meaning just that, you're probably seeing something in person that I don't get from the photos. What I think you're calling "growing shoots" look to me like places where flowers were and have dropped off without setting fruit. If you're pretty sure that this looks like the work of insects, go out at night with a flashlight a few times, at least an hour after dark, and see if you can catch them in the act. A lot of pests are nocturnal.
    – Ed Staub
    Jun 30 '12 at 13:50

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