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Chilli Plant Problems and Pests

Chillies belong to the same family as tomatoes (Solanaceae – potato family) and suffer the same pests & diseases.

Slugs and Snails - Slugs and snails are the biggest problem for the Chilli grower. The usual signs of a slug or snail attack are the slime trails, (mucus) the young branches near the base of the plant have been stripped away, or often the centre of the leaves have been eaten away.

slugs and snails prefer dark damp places to live, so basic housekeeping is important. Alternatively consider copper tape/rings, or sprinkling egg shells or used coffee grounds round the base of the plant.

Greenfly/Whitefly/Aphids – when the plants produce lush new growth they become vunerable to these aphids that spread viruses quickly and lead to the detrement & health of the plant. The organic method is best to just hand pick them off, introduce ladybirds or a parasitic wasp (Encarsia Formosa) that can be purchased by specialists over the internet. The latter methods of biological control is only successful in greenhouses/polytunnels that can be sealed. These pests can be treated with insecticidal soap as well.

Botrytis – may also pose a problem especially at the base of the plant and the fruit. It begins as a brownish spot that develops into a grey mould. It is particularly prevalent when it is cold & damp. Good ventilation will help stop this occurring, removing all dead or injured plant material before it becomes infected (good housekeeping). Remove all infected material by cutting back into healthy stock and burning or binning the infected stem. Do not compost diseased plant material. Isolate infected plants to prevent the disease spreading.

Potato Blight – may also affect plants particularly if grown outside. It thrives in damp wet summers. It is a fungal disease that spreads rapidly and it is best to burn infected plants straight away. The first signs of infection are brown/black patches at the tips & margins of leaves. In moist weather a white fungal growth develops on the underside of leaves. The brown patches may also develop on the stem and the disease spreads to the rest of the plant leading to its collapse.

Thrips – this produces a silver white discolouration with tiny black dots (this is the insect’s excrement) on the upper leaf surface. The leaves become distorted and flower and fruit production is affected. It likes hot, dry conditions so water regularly and regulate the temperature with shading and ventilation.

Blossum end rot – this is a calcium deficiency (add limestone/bonemeal when planting the plant if this has been a problem in the past) and causes a brownish patch to appear on the end of the fruit. This is really only a problem with soil grown chillies.