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Jalapeño Peppers Turning Black? Here’s Why

Peppers come in all sorts of shapes, sizes, flavors, and colors. However, most of the popular varieties are not black in color. So, you may be worried when you see your jalapeño peppers turning black. Is it disease? Is it rot?!

In this article, I’ll go over the common causes of jalapeño peppers turning black (don’t worry, it is probably 100% normal!). There are a few common causes, and a few rare reasons you may see this darkening on your jalapeños. Let’s get started!

Jalapeno pepper turning black during ripening
Jalapeno pepper turning black.

Jalapenos Turn Black While Ripening

If your jalapenos are turning black later in the season, then they are probably just going through the natural ripening process. As jalapenos begin to ripen, they will first turn from bright green to a darker green. Then, the peppers will turn black (usually in splotches or streaks), and finally to a red color.

Ripening is the most common reason jalapenos turn black. They don’t simply change from green straight to red. Sometimes, the peppers may even appear brown as they transition to bright red.

Jalapeno Pepper Turning Red on plant
Half-ripe jalapeno with black color – this is normal ripening.

While most jalapeno varieties turn red when fully ripe, others turn orange or yellow. In these cases, the peppers may not turn completely black, but will darken somewhat before ripening.

Thankfully, this darkening simply means that your peppers are almost ready to be harvested! Get ready for a sweet, smoky and delicious pepper that you can store and use in so many ways.


Sunburn Can Cause Black Streaks

If your peppers are turning black earlier in the season, it is possible that they are getting a sun burn. Also known as sunscald, this occurs when the fruits are exposed to direct sunlight.

The foliage on pepper plants usually shades the pods from direct sunlight. If there happens to be some damage to the foliage, or it can’t provide protection, the peppers may develop a sunburn. This is usually harmless, but it can cause the jalapenos to turn black in the exposed spots.

Sunscald on peppers
Upright type peppers are more susceptible to sun burn.

Since jalapenos tend to hang down below the foliage, sunscald is relatively rare. However, if you prune the foliage, or a branch breaks, the peppers may become exposed and develop this condition.

Most peppers will handle the sun just fine, and the discoloration is harmless. However, in severe cases, sunscald can cause the skin of your jalapenos to become white, soft, and mushy, and eventually lead to mold.


Some Jalapenos Are Naturally Dark

Some people grow lots of plants, and it can become easy to lose track of what is what. Some jalapenos are naturally dark in color due to high levels of anthocyanins in the plant’s tissue.

Black jalapeno pepper plant and peppers
Black jalapeno pepper plant.

Sometimes called ‘purple jalapeno,’ there are several cultivars of jalapenos that are naturally dark in color before ripening. This trait is fairly common in the Capsicum annuum species, and is actually quite desirable.

Dark pods typically ripen to a deep red color, but the peppers will start off almost jet black. We love growing purple/black pods to offer some contrast in the garden. They are also a great conversation starter, as most people aren’t used to seeing a fully black jalapeno!


Blossom End Rot

More common on tomatoes, blossom end rot can affect peppers, too. This disorder causes soft brown or black spots on the bottom of peppers.

Blossom End Rot Bell Pepper
Blossom end rot on bell pepper.

The most probable cause of BER is an improper watering schedule. Watering pepper plants is not completely straightforward. It can vary hugely based on the temperature, the amount of rainfall, the drainage of your soil, and more.

Blossom end rot usually occurs when plants go through drought periods, followed by a heavy watering. With this type of irrigation schedule, the plants cannot supply enough calcium to the fruits as they develop.

As a result, the fruits do not fully develop the outer skin as the peppers form, causing areas to become soft and mushy. BER is not actually rot, however it can quickly lead to mold on the affected spots.

To avoid this issue, try to water peppers more evenly. In other words, water the plants on a regular basis, and avoid overwatering if rainfall has recently happened.Learn more about blossom end rot on peppers here.


Insect Damage

As much as I’d like this to not be true, pests always find their way to the garden. Peppers can be a magnet for aphids, thrips, and certain borers (pepper weevils, European corn borer, etc.). Depending on where you live, you’ll have to be aware of which pests may prey on your peppers.

If your jalapeno peppers have black spots that are random, you may have a pest problem. Look closely at the black spots and see if they are in fact holes in the peppers. Some pests will bore in the peppers in order to lay eggs within the fruits.

Aphids on peppers
Aphids on peppers.

While this is less common on hot peppers like jalapeños, it can be more problematic on sweet peppers, such as bells or banana peppers. Sticky traps can help identify which pests are present in your area so that you can work out a treatment plan.


Disease

Many diseases can cause peppers to turn black. Disease usually presents in spots, which often start in one place, and spread across the plant over time.

Disease on Fresno pepper anthracnose
Anthracnose on fresno pepper.

However, there are a large number of diseases that can impact jalapeno plants, so be sure to identify which may be affecting your plants. Don’t jump to conclusions about disease, as the best solution is often to discard the entire plant. Rule out other possibilities before assuming your plant is a lost cause.


I hope this article helped you understand why your jalapenos are turning black. More likely than not, the peppers are simply ripening through to their final red color! However, I am don’t blame you for worrying about your plants – growing peppers from seed is hard work!

Calvin Thumbnail

Calvin

One of the original Pepper Geeks! When Calvin isn’t gardening or learning more about peppers and botany, he might be traveling new places or playing some music.

Euro Yank

Sunday 4th of September 2022

Just to say thanks for confirming that most of my black jalapenos are sunburnt. It has been sunnier than most summers around here (and everywhere it seems).