I planted a red bell pepper seedling that I bought from a local nursery a couple weeks ago. It has been growing rapidly and upright. One of the egg-sized vegetables had suddenly developed a large tan splotch. Its leaves have suddenly curled up as well. The other vegetables on this plant are smaller and don't have this problem. I'm not entirely sure, but it might be correlated with my recent application of 4-4-4 organic fertilizer and store-bought poop-less compost.

  • Zone 9
  • Daytime: 70-80 Fahrenheit
  • Nightime: This week it's been 60's. Earlier this month, it was 50's.
  • Water twice a week
  • 1 gallon container

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It was sun scald. I made some makeshift protection around each vegetable:

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3 Answers 3


It looks like it could be Sun scalding to me. I have seen it on one of my chili peppers as well.

Sunscald on peppers occurs in the high heat of summer when humidity is at a peak. Usually the foliage on the pepper plant will help shield it from the most intense rays of the sun but, in some cases, the leaves have defoliated partially due to insects or disease. This leaves the developing fruit vulnerable to the sun and the peppers burn just like you or I would in exposed conditions.

  • 2
    It is sunscald. The tan parts are all pointing towards the southern sun (photo). I made some ghetto shelters out of parchment paper to prevent further scalding (photo).
    – JoJo
    Commented May 16, 2014 at 16:14

What's on the fruit certainly does look like sun scald, but I wouldn't expect drooping leaves in association with that unless your watering hasn't been sufficient, so not entirely sure that's the only thing going on here.

I followed your link to the compost - that product isn't really suitable for adding to pots, its intended for use in open ground, where any pathogens present are diluted in soil. I note they also do a potting mix which is suitable for potting up. Adding composts not intended for potted plants is always a risk, but whether you have introduced something that is damaging the plant is hard to say at this stage until/unless further symptoms develop. The only other thing showing at the moment are the small black/brown areas at the stem/leaf nodes, and these may or may not be significant, only time will tell. In the meantime, I would remove the affected fruit in case rot sets in.

  • 1
    I'm afraid that you may be right about the compost not being suitable for potted plants. My Wax Apple / Jambu started yellowing recently too. I am cursing myself for adding the compost to all my plants without doing a trial run first. Luckily, the berry plants weren't killed off by the compost. I really had no idea. My fruit tree book kept on lauding compost as the end-all-be-all cure for fruit trees. I should be more cautious and scientific in my trials.
    – JoJo
    Commented May 5, 2014 at 21:01
  • 1
    That sort of compost IS great for fruit trees - but only if they're in the ground...
    – Bamboo
    Commented May 6, 2014 at 9:50
  • I had to switch the accepted answer to LindaL's. Sorry. I let the plant produce more vegetables and observed that all the tan portions were unshielded by leaves and pointing towards the southern sun. See the photos I posted under her answer.
    – JoJo
    Commented May 16, 2014 at 16:17
  • @JoJo - don't worry about it - I was aware it might be sunscald anyway, as I said, and Lindak deserves the points...
    – Bamboo
    Commented May 16, 2014 at 16:33

This might sound strange considering the location of the tan color, but I've heard that blossom end rot can cause that in peppers.

I had sunscald and something that looked like your pepper's condition on a lot of peppers in 2016, and they seemed to be different conditions than each other whether or not the latter were really a weird kind of blossom end rot. It could just be a different kind of sunscald, though. Whatever the case, the peppers are still edible in my experience (just cut off the tan part).

My peppers with sunscald had dry portions where affected (not thick and mushy like the tan part of the others and yours appear to be, but thin and papery).

Here's an insightful link about the topic with pictures. It explains how they still had the problem after using shade cloth. The link talks about calcium deficiency, but it should be noted that blossom end rot can still occur when there's enough calcium in the soil. The problem does have to do with calcium, however.

Both problems usually just affected bell-type peppers and large peppers, in 2016, on my fruits. I recommend picking them as soon as it starts to happen—so more peppers can grow and so it doesn't spread over a larger portion of the affected fruit.

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