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Pepper Plants Wilting – What It Means And How To Fix It

Pepper plants are notorious for frequently wilting leaves. Why is my pepper plant drooping? Don’t fret! This is common and usually nothing to worry about. In this article, we’ll discuss the possible reasons for your pepper plants wilting, and how to fix it!

Wilting Leaves (Video):

Dried Out Soil (Time to Water!)

By far the most common reason for pepper plants wilting is a lack of water. When plants become dry, the first sign will often be drooping leaves. This is especially noticeable in pepper plants.

Pepper Plants Wilting

The reason leaves wilt when a plant is dry is simply a lack of available water within the plant. Through the process of transpiration, water is evaporated from the leaves of your pepper plants. If the plant is losing more water than it is taking in from the soil, the plant leaves will begin to droop. Environmental elements play a major role in how quickly a plant uses water.

While it isn’t ideal to allow your plants to wilt between watering, it is a clear sign that it is time to water. Give your peppers a good, deep watering, allowing any excess water to drain away.

If you want to keep better track of the soil’s moisture, try using a water meter like this one from Amazon. While not highly accurate, it can help you understand the moisture level deep below the surface of the soil.

Tip: Many growers intentionally water stress plants during fruit production to achieve higher levels of spice in peppers.

Learn more about watering pepper plants in our detailed article here.

High Temperatures (Heat Stress)

Low water is not the only potential cause of pepper plants wilting. Overly intense heat, or heat stress, can cause significant leaf wilting.

Wilting Pepper Plant Leaves

If the weather in your area is forecast to be over 90°F for a few days, expect to see some heat stress. Though peppers are known for thriving in warmer climates, they are still vulnerable to excess heat.

Here are a few tips to help peppers through a heat wave:

  • Water. Without enough water, the effects of heat stress will be amplified. In hot and/or dry weather, pepper plants will use significantly more water. Keep the soil moist!
  • Provide shade. The afternoon sunshine is the most intense, so if you can, provide some shade on extremely hot days. You can move potted plants to a shaded location, or provide some temporary shade with shade fabric for in-ground peppers.
  • Avoid pruning. When your pepper plants are dealing with high temperatures, the last thing they want is physical trauma. Avoid pruning at this time. The plant may have difficulty taking in nutrients during a heat wave, too, so cut back on fertilizing when it is hot.
  • Monitor temperature. Be prepared for a heat wave! Use a simple thermometer and keep it near your plants. We use a cheap clip-on thermometer for our plants. You can get a more attractive thermometer/hygrometer for outdoors.

Heat stress will cause wilting, but just know that your plants will rebound after the heat has subsided. Simply do your best to care for the plants while it is hot!

Transplant Shock

As peppers grow, they are typically transplanted into larger containers. When it is time for them to move from indoors to outdoors, they may experience some transplant shock.

If you have recently moved your pepper plants outdoors, it is possible that they are wilting due to the new conditions. Provide extra shade if necessary during the first couple of weeks after transplanting.

Be patient and allow the plants to adjust. Once the root system has acclimated, the plants should resume normal growth and stop drooping.

You may even see some some plants drop leaves if the transition outdoors is particularly drastic. Be sure to harden your peppers off properly by gradually introducing direct sunshine.

We have seen some of our pepper plants have a tough time coping with transplant shock, even with proper hardening off. The intensity of the sun is just that much more than any indoor grow lights. Be patient, and they will rebound!

Bacterial Wilt

If you are still having issues with your pepper plants wilting, it could possibly be due to bacterial wilt. While this condition isn’t all that common among home gardeners, it is possible.

Bacterial wilt is a soil-borne pathogen that can infect peppers and many other garden plants. It causes wilting and dying leaves, and is usually irreversible.

Take a look at some images of bacterial wilt here. This article also shows some ways to test for bacterial wilt.

Bacterial wilt also spreads from one plant to another. Remove suspected infected areas of the plant immediately and discard far from your garden, or burn them. If you are certain that your plants are infected, remove them from the garden entirely.


The best way to prevent bacterial infections in peppers is to keep the leaves off of the soil. Remove any low leaves early on to keep the plant a few inches from the soil. Bottom pruning is easy and prevents any soil-borne diseased from entering through damaged leaves.

Joe's long cayenne pepper plant
Pepper plant with lower foliage removed.

Another option is to mulch around the base of the pepper plant. This helps by preventing rain water from splashing soil onto the plant’s leaves. As a bonus, it can also help with water retention and weeds. We have liked using straw, shredded leaves, or wood mulch.

Be sure to try other solutions before giving up on your pepper plants. Wilting is usually caused by high temperatures and lack of water, so don’t jump straight to bacterial wilt!


Some insects can cause distorted or wilted-looking leaves in pepper plants. These include (but are not limited to) aphids, thrips, whiteflies, spider mites, and slugs.

Aphids on peppers

There will usually be noticeable damage to the leaves in addition to wilting or distortion. Look for any brown spots or holes in the leaves. If you suspect pest damage, check underneath leaves and on new leafy growth to spot them.


Planting alyssum has been a game changer in our garden, attracting a diversity of beneficial insects to eat the pests. Aphids can be particularly active in early spring, but it is usually best to wait for nature to take care of the problem for you.

If your pest problem is indoors, use a solution of neem oil, water and a mild soap in a spray bottle. During the evening, spray the leaves thoroughly, top and bottom. This can also be used as a preventative measure against soft-bodied pests.

You can also consider purchasing live beneficial insects, like green lacewings, into your garden. These can be expensive to source, but may be worth it depending on your situation.

Learn more about dealing with aphids on pepper plants here.

I hope this article helps you figure out why your peppers plants are wilting. The problem is usually an easy fix: Water thoroughly! If the problem persists, I hope you find the cause and still get a great harvest!

Calvin Thumbnail


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.


Tuesday 29th of August 2023

I found my pepper plants wilting, curling, with brown dried leaves. Most all the leaves on my shishito peppers are dying. Serrano leaves are starting to yellow out. I had applied a copper fungicide to all my plants including tomatoes, it was light on the peppers. Any suggestions?


Wednesday 5th of July 2023

My pepper plants are breaking my heart , my pepper beds are just separated by a thin layer of net , one side is doing perfectly fine and the other side is wilting so bad , the leaves are getting yellowish , getting curly , and dropping all it flowers , though we are having high rainfall right now , what should I do please reply fast 😪😪


Saturday 24th of June 2023

I have a jalapeño pepper plant growing in a large clay pot on my patio. It is in direct sunlight most of the day. I water in the morning until water starts draining out of the bottom. It is 98 degrees here this afternoon and all the leaves are wilting. Should I try to give it more water right now or wait and see if they survive and water again in the morning. They are producing just fine and this isn’t the first hot day of the season. My tomato plant is right next to it and it’s also wilting.


Wednesday 28th of June 2023

With temps that high, wilting is to be expected. The plants should be okay, but that heat will likely cause some flower/fruit drop

David Niemi

Sunday 18th of June 2023

I'm curious how Connecticut's climate is this year. It's been under half normal rainfall this spring in Northern Virginia and a full-on drought in much of the Midwest. I barely need to water most years so I'm not used to having to do so much of it

Different pepper species react differently to the dryness. Capsicum Annuum peppers seem the most affected. I've always noticed Cayenne and their relatives are the first to droop their leaves, but respond well once they get water. Of course larger more established plants can survive a lot longer without watering, and in-ground peppers fare better than those in containers, especially small ones. My original garden is at the south side of the house in part shade, and even in these dry conditions still needs a lot less watering than my "new garden" which is more exposed.


Sunday 18th of June 2023

I have a couple of pepper plants that the leaves have turned black. What causes this to happen?


Tuesday 20th of June 2023

If they are dark foliage varieties, it is normal. If they are not meant to have dark foliage or fruits, then you may have disease. Definitely check the variety and whether or not dark leaves is normal before taking action!