What’s Up With Your Peppers? 5 Reasons Why Your Pepper Plant Leaves Are Turning Yellow

No one starts growing veg to produce dull, unsalvageable crops. If your peppers are struggling, and you’re seeing yellow leaves and other signs of stress, you need to know exactly what to do to fix it. 

Although discolored leaves are a common problem with pepper plants, the good news is that there’s almost always a remedy.

What’s Up With Your Peppers 5 Reasons Why Your Pepper Plant Leaves Are Turning Yellow

So, before you lose all hope and dispose of your peppers, here are five of the most common reasons why your leaves (see also: 3 Most Common Reasons For White Spots On Tomato Leaves (And If It Can Be Fixed))are turning yellow, and how to fix it. 

What Does A Healthy Pepper Plant Look Like? 

First things first – what does a healthy pepper plant look like? 

If your pepper plant is thriving (not just surviving), you’ll see plenty of luscious green stems, and dark leaves. Your leaves will also have a glossy appearance and texture, and you shouldn’t see any discoloration or blemishes.

If you can see the roots of your plant, they should be healthy and white. 

One of the sure signs of a healthy pepper plant is an abundance of flowers. Over time, these flowers will become peppers.

If there are plenty of visible, healthy flowers on your pepper plant, there’s a good chance it’s going to be productive, and produce plenty of peppers. 

Are Yellow Leaves Normal? 

If your pepper plant has just a few discolored leaves, this is nothing to worry about. Pepper plants do this if their leaves have been shaded under heavy foliage, or they’re trying to defend against the first signs of disease.

However, if you have more than a couple of discolored leaves, this is an indicator that there’s something more serious going on. 

Why Are My Pepper Plants Turning Yellow? 

Yellow leaves are a common problem, but thankfully, there’s almost always an easy fix. Here are some of the most common causes of yellow leaves: 

Nutrient Deficiency

Just like us humans, our plants are also susceptible to nutrient deficiencies.

If you’re seeing an abundance of yellow leaves, your pepper plant may be deficient in one or more essential nutrients, such as magnesium, nitrogen, iron, potassium, or phosphorus.

They could even be deficient in calcium and other trace elements, however, this is unlikely.  The most common nutrient deficiencies are: 


Iron is essential for most plants – especially peppers. Iron is one of the most essential micronutrients, and it’s involved in the production of chlorophyll and synthesis.

Usually, pepper plants with an iron deficiency will have yellow or white leaves with small green veins but the rest of the plant will appear healthy. 


Magnesium is the most essential nutrient in photosynthesis.

It’s also essential for enzyme activation and protein synthesis, and a deficiency will cause a shortage of chlorophyll, which will make your leaves look bland, and often yellow.

Like iron-deficient pepper plants, magnesium-deficient plants will also have yellow leaves with green veins. 


Another of the most common nutrient deficiencies in pepper plants is phosphorus deficiency.

Phosphorus is one of the most important nutrients found in the plant’s soil, and it’s needed for cell division and plant growth, so it’s essential for seedlings and young plants.

If your pepper plant is phosphorus deficient, it will have yellow or dark leaves, which will become pale with severe deficiency. 

You can add more nutrients to your soil from dead plants, manure, expired animal feed, coffee, banana skins, and even wood ashes. However, the products you use will depend on the deficiency you need to treat.

To determine the deficiency, we’d recommend testing your soil’s pH. A very high or low soil pH can cause deficiencies and toxicities in your pepper plant. 

You’re Over Or Under Watering 

Another cause of yellow leaves is over or under-watering. Your pepper plant will need just the right amount of water to stay healthy – if you can’t find the sweet spot, your plant will suffer, and could eventually produce yellow leaves.

Pepper roots need to be consistently moist (but not soaking), so if they’re bogged down or completely dry, they could either end up with root rot, or become severely deficient.

We’d recommend giving your pepper plants a dose of liquid fertilizer every 1-2 weeks, and in cool weather, they’ll need watering every 2-3 days. However, in the heat of the summer, they may need watering every day. 

What’s Up With Your Peppers 5 Reasons Why Your Pepper Plant Leaves Are Turning Yellow (1)

Cold Weather 

Cold temperatures could also be causing yellow leaves. Peppers are used to warm climates, and the colder seasons can be a shock to their systems.

If your nighttime temperatures often drop below 50 degrees Fahrenheit, your pepper plants may be entering hibernation to protect themselves.

This can cause yellow leaves. If the temperature drops even further, the cold could eventually kill your plant. 

If you have a conservatory or a greenhouse, we’d recommend moving your pepper plants inside during cold spots.

However, your peppers will still need plenty of light, so ensure they’re in a warmer, sunny spot and keep the soil moist throughout the winter to prevent yellowing or deficiency. 


This is an unlikely culprit, but it’s still worth mentioning. If you have too much chlorine in your soil, it may be causing your pepper leaves to turn yellow.

A buildup can be caused by excess fertilizer or salt, and even high chlorine levels in your water. 

If you’re struggling to determine what’s causing your yellow leaves, test your soil. If you can’t test your soil but you think chlorine is the culprit, we’d recommend flushing your plant pots with clean water to wash away the build-up.

If the problem persists, there’s something else going on but if your leaves stop yellowing, you’ve found the issue. 

If your peppers are in the ground rather than plant pots, you’ll need a different course of action. You’ll have to take action to gradually improve the quality of your soil.

This won’t happen overnight, but it will still make a difference to your pepper plants. If your peppers are in the ground, we’d recommend improving soil drainage by adding plenty of organic compost or farm manure to the ground.

Organic matter will improve the soil structure by increasing the soil aggregation, and you should start to see an improvement in a few weeks. 

Pests And Diseases 

Pests and diseases LOVE our plants. There are plenty of pests and diseases that can attack and infect your pepper plant, and many can cause your leaves to turn yellow.

Diseases and pests are more likely if you live in a warmer climate. 

If your yellow leaves also have brown spots, you could be dealing with bacterial leaf spot. This can spread through infected seeds, and to treat it, you’ll usually need a copper spray or another plant-resistance inducer. 

If you haven’t yet planted your peppers, you can avoid bacterial leaf spot by soaking seeds in hot water to wash off the disease, and avoid planting your peppers in a spot where other plants once grew. 

If you have a pest problem, you’ll know about it. The signs only become apparent when you’re dealing with a much larger infestation; if this is the case, we’d recommend spraying your plants with a high-power hose and changing location.

Using an insecticide can damage your peppers. 

Some of the most common pests include aphids, mites, white flies, and psyllids. 

The Bottom Line 

Yellow pepper leaves are a common problem, but they’re rarely untreatable. Unless you have a severe pest infestation or root rot, your pepper plant can be salvaged.

To ensure it thrives, you’ll need to identify the problem. There’s a good chance your pepper plant is being affected by one of the most common issues listed above.

Test your soil, your environment, and check for pests to determine the right course of action. 

Amelia Haslehurt
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