As gardeners, whether experienced or novice, we are sometimes puzzled by things happening in the garden that are not usual. Often, we worry that we’re doing something wrong, and sometimes, we just marvel at the diversity of nature. For example, are your peppers turning black? Have you wondered why this has happened and if it’s a problem?
More often than not, when peppers turn black, it’s just a natural ripening process and nothing to be concerned about. The only time that you should be worried is if your peppers develop black spots or they’re beginning to soften.
Here are some reasons that peppers turn black.
Natural Ripening Process
Anyone who grows peppers often will know that these go through various color changes in their ripening process. Sometimes, this will result in the peppers turning black or even dark purple color. More commonly, this can be found in certain varieties, such as bell peppers and jalapenos.
It can also be the result of the fruit being exposed to an excessive amount of sunlight or unseasonably cold temperatures. In general, this is nothing to be concerned about and will not affect the flavor of the fruit.
Too Much Sun
Interestingly, if your peppers are exposed to high levels of UV light, they will turn dark purple or black. It’s actually the fruit’s natural defense mechanism against excessive UV radiation. In addition, you might also see some purple streaking on the leaves.
Once again, this is not a problem unless your peppers are also displaying white spots. These spots are the result of sun scald and can cause some damage to the fruit.
Just like having a defense mechanism against too much UV light, peppers also have one against a sudden drop in temperatures. When the weather cools down significantly, your peppers may just turn dark purple or black.
This is purely cosmetic and does not reduce the quality of the fruit. However, bear in mind that peppers are not frost-hardy and should not be exposed to temperatures below 46 degrees Fahrenheit (7.7 degrees Celsius) for extended periods of time. These cold temperatures will eventually damage your fruits.
How to Avoid Peppers Turning Black due to a Cold Weather
To avoid peppers turning black due to a drop in temperature, harvest all your fruit before the weather starts to get cold.
Alternatively, you can cover your plants with a frost protection blanket or even a cardboard box or polytunnel. This will allows your fruit to continue to ripen without the blackening or your fruits being damaged by the cold.
Blossom End Rot
There are occasions when peppers turning black can be a problem, especially if this is accompanied by softening of the fruit. Blossom end rot is one problem that you should watch out for.
It normally displays as the bottom tip of the fruit turning black and becoming soft. This disease is the result of a lack of calcium. However, when this occurs in your peppers, it’s usually caused by inconsistent watering and exposure to drought conditions.
When your pepper plants don’t get enough water and are constantly wilting, the roots are unable to take up the nutrients that the plant needs from the soil. The end result is a nutrient deficiency in the developing fruit.
How to Deal with Blossom End Rot
Once the fruit has developed this disease, there’s no way to reverse the damage. You should remove the affected peppers immediately so that the plant can focus on growing new fruit.
These peppers are still safe to eat if you cut off the affected parts. Make sure that you check inside the fruit first, though, to ensure that the rot hasn’t spread into the rest of the pepper.
To avoid blossom end rot from occurring in the first place, make sure that you water your plants regularly and don’t let them become too dry for too long.
The best way to determine whether your plants need water is to poke your finger into the soil and check whether it is dry or damp. If the top 1 to 2 inches of soil are dry, it’s time to water your plants.
Anthracnose is another common disease that can cause your peppers to turn black or display black spots. These spots appear as dark lesions on the fruits, leaves, and stems of the plant.
If not treated, this disease can eventually kill your plants.
How to Treat Anthracnose on your Pepper Plants
Anthracnose needs to be treated as soon as you see it if you want to save your plants. Here’s what you need to do:
- Remove any infected plant material, including leaves, stem sections, and fruit. Dispose of these in the trash.
- Spray your plants all over with a copper fungicide.
- Water your plants only at the soil level and avoid getting the leaves wet.
- Cover the soil around your plants with a thick layer of mulch such as hay or straw.
A lack of nutrients, namely phosphorus, can cause your peppers to turn black. This deficiency usually results in black spots appearing on the fruit. It can also lead to a decrease in quality and less disease resistance as well as poor root and stem development.
How to Fix a Nutrient Deficiency in your Pepper Plants
The only way to fix your pepper’s nutrient deficiencies is to apply a regular fertilizer that has a high level of phosphorus. Fertilizers that contain rock phosphate or bone meal are ideal for this.
Make sure that you apply one of these fertilizers in the recommended dosage and frequency that you’ll find listed on the pack.
You are Growing a Black Pepper Variety
There are certain varieties of peppers that are naturally black. These include:
- Black pearl peppers
- Black cobra peppers
- Chilaca peppers
- Black Hungarian peppers