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Mosaic virus?

League City, TX(Zone 9a)

This keeps happening to my peppers. I bought three of them from my local farmer's market about three weeks ago and they were at least 7" tall and healthy.

It's frustrating because the plants looked healthy when planted but then the leaves curled and the plant growth "stunted" soon afterwards. All the growth (peppers buds) gets bunched up together at the top of the plant and the peppers never really develop. They get maybe 3" long and end up getting sun scald.

Should I be spraying as soon as I plant, given my dismal performance this spring and (early) fall? And with what? I've read that aphids and other plant suckers can be to blame...if this in fact mosaic. Anyway, thanks for any advice!!!

Thumbnail by JohnCrichton75
Hutto, TX(Zone 8b)


I saw your post on the other forum, but didn't respond. To me, that looks like a mottle virus. I had that problem in my garden and had to switch to non-bell sweet peppers to have any success. If you are growing only in buckets, then I would throw that soil away. If you have a garden area where you don't grow peppers, then I would put the soil there and till it in. Next year, start your own seeds, and plant in new soil mix in your buckets. The mottle viruses are generally soil borne, so if you start your (fresh) seeds in new soil then you should be okay. I transferred the mottle virus into my garden from commercial pepper plants. Now I start all my peppers from seeds, but it is too late for the area where I garden. Also-- the virus may transfer in soil on your tools, so be sure to use different trowels, shovels, etc. or clean them to remove any trance of soil. Some advocate soaking in milk or using other anti-viral techniques to clean.

David R

League City, TX(Zone 9a)

Thanks David. I'll be planting in my new raised beds next spring so my soil should be good to go. Didn't realize my garden tools could spread this disease so thanks for the tip! I'll look into disinfecting them somehow or using new ones as you mentioned.

But yeah, I tried growing bell peppers in buckets in the spring and again this fall and both crops were duds so the soil could very well be contaminated somehow. There are so many variable that could be at play here so that is the challenge for me at this point. Looking forward to spring and healthy, productive, bell pepper plants!

Ozark, MO(Zone 6a)

Yes, I think that's PMMV (Pepper Mild Mottle Virus) for sure. I brought the virus to my garden soil by buying infected nursery plants in the mid-1990's and have had it ever since. In the past couple of years I think my soil is getting over it, maybe. I quit growing bell peppers for years and I raise all my peppers from commercial seeds now - and the past two seasons I've snuck in just a couple of bell pepper plants and done OK with them.

Bells and Cubanelle types are most susceptible to the virus, in my experience. Non-bell sweet peppers, especially hybrids like Gypsy and Carmen don't seem to be affected, and the PMMV virus doesn't seem to bother most hot peppers.

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