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Why are my pepper plants turning yellow?

A common question from gardeners is:
“Why are my pepper plants turning yellow?”

Yellow leaves on peppers can be caused by a few issues. Here are a few causes of yellow leaves on your pepper plants:

Why are my pepper plants turning yellow? - Causes of Yellow Leaves on your Pepper Plants

#1 Cause: Overwatering
This is what we think is the most common cause of yellowing pepper plants. Some gardeners give their pepper plants too much "love" in the form of water, resulting in drowning their roots in soggy soil. It doesn't take long for pepper plants in soggy soil to start to droop, turn yellow and have stunted growth. Therefore, it is important to make sure to let the soil dry out slightly between watering to make sure your pepper plants are as healthy as possible.

#2 Underwatering
Underwatering your pepper plants can also cause them to turn yellow and droop. Often, if you see a drooping pepper plant and the soil is bone dry, watering will revive the plant fairly quickly. While it's important not to overwater pepper plants, it's also important to make sure their soil isn't bone dry for too long as that can cause the pepper to droop and suffer.

#3 Lack of Nutrients
If your growing medium doesn't have nutrients, pepper plants can also turn yellow. We like to feed pepper plants' soil with homemade compost or organic fertilizers like Kelp or Seaweed mixes (outdoors only for these, they can be stinky!)  But one word of caution: as your pepper plants mature, be careful not to over-fertilize with heavy nitrogen fertilizers, which will result in lots of green growth but no blooms or peppers. Read more about this in our post: Why do my pepper plants have no peppers?

#4 Pests
Some pests can cause yellowing leaves on pepper plants, including mites, aphids and psyllids which will suck on the plant robbing them of water and nutrients. Grow lots of native flowers and plants near your pepper garden to help bring in the good guys like lacewings, ladybugs, wasps and other beneficial insects to help do the pest control for you and keep pests at bay. Spraying with pesticides usually results in more pests later as you will also wipe out the pest controlling beneficial insects, so avoid pesticides at all cost.

#5 Weather
Cold weather can cause pepper plants to turn yellow, too. Most peppers really don't like it below 50˚F – so wait to plant them outdoors until it's warmed up consistently above 50-60˚ F at night, and all chance of frost has passed. If you plant peppers in containers, you can also have the added perk of being able to move them somewhere warmer or indoors during cold spells so you can keep them growing strong for a longer season.

Do you live in the mountains or in a cooler climate, but still without frost during the growing season? Check out our cool weather peppers »

And here's a meme for a laugh...

Yellow Pepper Leaves Meme
  😆 If your pepper seedlings' leaves are turning yellow, it could be overwatering... amongst other things. Don't fret and follow our advice, don't overwater, underwater or underfeed or overfeed your pepper plants. Make sure they get the right amount of light and keep them warm! 

Learn more about

Yellow Leaves on Pepper Plants »

For more great tips on
growing peppers, check out our
Top 12 tips for Growing Peppers from Seed »