If you want to know why chilli plants wilt, then you’re in the right place. I’ve grown chili plants for over two decades, and I can tell you there are plenty of reasons why your plants may wilt. In this guide, I’ll talk about the top 8 most common issues and how to deal with them to save your chili plants.
If you’re looking into growing chilies, you’re in the right place. This article will help you determine why your chili plants may be wilting.
These are why your chili plants may be wilting despite your efforts to keep them alive and healthy throughout their growth cycle.
1. Phytophthora wilt
2. Distressed seedlings
4. Inefficient grafting
5. Loss of water
6. Inefficient drainage
This article will explain these chili-affecting problems and what you can do to save your plants and the fruits they will bear. Keep reading if you need more information on wilting chili plants.
Here’s Why Chili Plants Wilt
It’s time for a more detailed explanation of why your chili plants are wilting. These reasons will help you narrow down your problem and provide a solution.
It is also known as Phytophthora blight. It is considered one of the most devastating pathogens to affect chili peppers. It causes rotting in the root, crown, and fruit in chili plants. Please note that chili plants are not their only victims.
It causes widespread infestations and usually occurs in the summer in natural conditions. It is a result of poor drainage in the soil. When the chili plants face overwatering and the intense summer heat, it provides a bed for the pathogen.
High moisture levels are the perfect breeding ground for it to destroy your chili plants. You will know if your chili plants are under attack from this pathogen because they will suddenly appear to have permanent wilt. It is a result of the root infestation.
The best solution against this pathogen is to improve soil drainage. Try using beds that have a 2-inch layer of gravel under the soil. Or use pots that have drainage holes.
If you’re a new gardener, you may not know that garden soil is not something many gardeners recommend for growing chili plants. Garden soil is considered too dense for the peppers to grow safely from pests or diseases.
For this reason, gardeners will turn to use commercial growing media. The use of commercial growing media will result in transplanting. Your chili plants won’t always grow in the same media.
During the transplanting process, the chili plant seeding may experience some distress. It may cause them to start wilting or drying out. The seedlings are incredibly fragile and will require the utmost care.
It is also essential to make sure that you have adequate ventilation in the area in which they are growing. It is for the fragile chili pepper seedlings to receive proper air circulation. It is part of their ideal growing environment.
Transplanting is also one of the leading causes of wilting that new gardeners may face. Chili plant seedlings, as shared above, are incredibly fragile. If not done correctly, the transplanting process may lead to them wilting.
The cause is that the transplanted seedlings face new soil or mediums with high nitrogen levels. These nitrogen levels cause the roots not to grow as they should. As such, they end up causing the plant to dry up.
The other problem with transplanting is that the transplants may have been in a small pot for far too long. So, the seedlings will take much longer to extend into the soil after transplanting.
The lack of proper root development will cause them to wilt. If you cannot raise your seedlings, you can procure healthy seedlings from commercial nurseries.
It will come with instructions and ways to ensure that your transplants flourish after completing the process.
Grafting is a horticultural practice. It involves taking two or more plants and joining them together to grow as one singular plant. (source)
It is best to do the grafting of chili plants in a healing chamber. The healing chamber provides the right conditions, such as high humidity, for the graft to heal.
The healing chamber maintains the correct humidity levels, provides a cool and shady shelter, and protects from the wind. If the grafting process takes place in a harsher environment, the chili plant will
likely wither and die.
Loss Of Water
During summer, it is inevitable that your chili plants will lose water faster than usual. It is a result of the heat and the rate of transpiration occurring.
The moisture in the soil will also not play a factor in stopping the transpiration rate. As a result, the chili plants are prone to wilting but flower dropping and fruit dropping.
You can try using antitranspirants to prevent wilting during the hot summer season. They are sprayed on the leaves and are excellent in reducing the rate of transpiration. They are sprayed on the leaves because most of the transpiration process occurs in the leaves.
This method will help reduce transpiration but will not suddenly cause an influx in your overall yields. We recommend trying out the most straightforward approach in this situation.
Professionals recommend using thick and wet grass clippings will help increase humidity, reduce transpiration, and maintain your yields.
Typical when using containers to grow your chili plants, if drainage is inefficient, the plants will suffer. Containers should always have drainage holes. It is so that your chili plant’s roots do not decay in old toxic water.
If your chili plant’s roots sit in this water for an extended period, they will start to rot, and your chili plant will begin to wilt.
A solution to help mitigate the drainage problem is using commercial soil media in containers. It is because garden soils do not necessarily have the right texture in containers.
Commercial soils specialized for potting, on the other hand, are made to ensure drainage is as smooth as possible. They typically contain perlite and milled sphagnum moss. These materials are detrimental to efficient drainage.
They drain very fast and dry quickly. This way, freshwater goes in, and water goes out. It allows for an efficient drainage system.
A vast number of pests are to the detriment of chili plants. The most annoying pests that gardeners have to deal with are spider mites. They are hard to control and are barely visible to the naked eye. They tend to build their webs on the underside of the leaves.
Regarding pests, this article will mention several insects that affect the chili plants negatively. They are in no shape, or form beneficial to chili plants.
Below is a list of pests typically found attacking chili plants and causing wilting of the plants.
Pests Attacking Chili Plants
- European corn borers
- Flea beetles
- Fruit worms
- Green peach aphids or plant lice
- Leaf Miners
- Pepper maggots
- Pepper weevils
- Slugs and snails
- Spider mites
- Stink bugs
- Tarnished plant bugs
Like any living thing, chili plants will get a disease from time to time. Pests are just one of the causes of wilting. Diseases caused by bacterial or fungal infections may cause your plant to dry out.
Nonetheless, not all diseases will result in simply wilting alone. This article will point out some of the conditions that cause wilting in chili plants. They include:
- Bacterial wilt
- Fusarium wilt
- Southern Blight
- Verticillium wilt
- Tomato spotted wilt virus
Phytophthora blight is also on this list; however, it is one of the most severe diseases and causes massive plant community infestations. It is also referred to as chile wilt and requires patience, time, and ceasing overwatering to get it under control.
You can prevent all these diseases by using fungicides. It will stop the affected areas from rotting and the plant from wilting away.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can You Save A Wilting Chili Plant?
Yes, you can. Narrow down the problem and its related solution. This way, you can save your wilting chili plant to the best of your ability.
How Do You Save Your Wilting Chili Plants?
You can save your wilting chili plants by narrowing down what might seem to be the issue and moving from there. If you assume that your chili plant is wilting because of poor drainage, change the soil or soil medium.
How Do You Stop Wilting?
You need to understand that prevention is better than cure. It is essential to comprehend that chili plants are fragile, and the best way to handle this is by repotting. But issues do vary on the cause of the wilt.
- Dave DeWitt, Paul Bosland, The Complete Chile Pepper Book: A Gardeners Guide to Choosing, Growing, Preserving. And Cooking (London: Timber Press, 2009) 524.
- UMass Extension Vegetable Program, Pythora Blight, University of Massachusetts Amherst https://ag.umass.edu/vegetable/fact-sheets/phytophthora-blight Accessed May 07, 2021.
- Scottish Sensory Centre, Scree, BSL Geography Glossary http://www.ssc.education.ed.ac.uk/bsl/geography/screed.html Accessed May 07, 2021.
- Kay Maguire, RHS Red Hot Chili Grower: The Complete Guide to Planting, Picking and Preserving Chilies (London: Mitchell Beazley, 2015)144.