White spots that appear on the bell pepper plant are an early indicator of a powdery mildew infection. Powdery mildew is a surface fungal infection that can affect bell pepper plants. The distinctive appearance of powdery mildew is one of the easiest ways to diagnose the infection. Powdery mildew can be treated as well as easily prevented.
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Powdery mildew is distinctive because it begins as small white spots, often on the leaves of the pepper plant. Powdery mildew is a fine, thin layer of white powder that, when left untreated, will spread and infect the rest of the plant. Powdery mildew will start on the leaves of the plant, and then gradually infect entire leaves as well as the stem and branches of the plant. In extreme cases, it will also affect the peppers.
Powdery mildew is best managed through cultural controls, which can help prevent the establishment of a powdery mildew infection. Powdery mildew prefers cool, humid climates. Growing your pepper plants in well-draining soil by mixing in compost before planting will help prevent excess humidity. Pruning your plants as necessary will also help ensure better airflow among plants, also reducing humidity levels.
Chemical Treatment Options
When powdery mildew has established itself, there are several chemical and natural sprays available for control. Sprays or other chemical treatments are recommended only in extreme cases of powdery mildew infections. Potassium bicarbonate is the most common chemical treatment option for powdery mildew. Sulphur is also another treatment option. Using neem oil on your pepper plant is the best solution for a natural spray treatment for pepper plants.
Other Treatment Options
If there is only a small powdery mildew infection, the best solution may be to remedy the growing conditions of your pepper plants to reduce the likelihood of a larger or stronger infection. Cut off the portion of the plant that has been affected, and dispose of the infected portion in the trash. Do not compost the infected part of the plant. Mulch your pepper plants with straw or leaf mulch to help reduce humidity levels among your pepper plants.
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- Colorado State University; Powdery Mildew; B. Edmunds and L. Pottoroff; 2009
- "Practical Winery and Vineyard Journal"; Strategies to Control Powdery Mildew; Wayne F. Wilcox; 2003
- University of California IPM Online; Peppers - Powdery Mildew; 2009
- University of Illinois Extension: Watch Your Garden Grow - Peppers