Tiny Black Spots on Pepper Plant Leaves: What Are the Causes & How to Treat Them

Pepper plants can be grown in most climates, and they also don’t require you to have a lot of skills to keep them healthy.

It’s why many people grow peppers in their gardens as a hobby! But many people grow peppers as an income source, too … depending on where you are and the amount you raise, a quality crop of organic peppers can fetch decent money.

However, if you’ve noticed tiny black spots on pepper leaves, that’s a sign of a problem. They’re a sign of bacterial, fungal, or viral infection, and you need to fix it immediately if you don’t want to lose your crop.

This article will overview the problem and show you how to “cure” your precious pepper plants!

Pepper plant

Overview of the Tiny Black Spots on Pepper Leaves

This condition is extremely noticeable. If you catch it early, you’ll find tiny black discolorations on a few plant leaves.

Most people report these spots looking like chimney soot stuck on the green leaves. You may also notice a yellow “halo” around the sites.

Over time, the dark spots may grow larger and larger. They may also spread to other leaves and plants in your pepper crop.

Any color that’s not green on your pepper plants is cause for concern. The black spots are dead tissues, and if you notice yellow halos surrounding these spots, then these are the plant cells that are dying off, as well.

Depending on the specific cause of the spots, the plant (and possibly even the crop) may be saved.But in some extreme cases, you may have to remove the plant entirely or dispose of the crop.

In the next part, we’ll look into some common causes of tiny black spots on pepper plants’ leaves.

What Are the Causes of Tiny Black Spots on Pepper Leaves?

Black Sooty Mold

A condition known as “black sooty mold” can afflict your pepper plant and cause spots that look like chimney soot to cover the leaves. It may even cause black spots on pepper plant stems.

Tiny Black Spots on Pepper Plant Leaves Due To Black Sooty Mold
Sooty mold on the leaves of an eucalyptus tree (black sooty mold can happen to virtually all plants, not just peppers alone.)

Fortunately, the “soot” can be easily washed off by water or manually scraped off.

This mold is caused by aphids feeding on the peppers and leaving behind the sweet, sticky material known as honeydew. This nutrient-dense substance is the perfect food source for black mold.

To prevent sooty molds from returning, get rid of lurking aphids through a mixture of water, alcohol, and dish soap. It’s as easy as that!

And don’t worry, black sooty mold is harmless. It just doesn’t look pleasant on your plants (but we still recommend washing them off, just for peace of mind.)


Fusarium is a wilt-fungal disease caused by a fungus called Fusarium oxysporum. Normally, this fungus is harmless and even beneficial for plants.

But certain strains of F. oxysporum are harmful and can cause plant deaths … which could be what your pepper plants suffer from.

A plant suffering from Fusarium wilt.

The fungus can be devastating for your pepper plant. Symptoms include:

  • Wilting, discolored leaves
  • Blackening and death of plant tissue
  • Stunted growth and leaf drop

It can be recognized by older and lower leaves turning black, yellow, or brown late in the growing season.

Do note that peppers may only show signs of infection on one side, so check the leaves of your plants carefully.

Warm temperatures and moist soil favor the proliferation of this fungus. It also survives longer in compost.

To prevent further spread, infected plants must be removed from the garden and disposed of properly.

Unfortunately, once a pepper plant has been infected with F. oxysporum, it is impossible to save it. The only thing that you can do then is to take steps to reduce the risk for nearby or future crops.

Bacterial Leaf Spot

Bacterial Leaf Spot is another suspect if pepper plants spontaneously develop black spots on their leaves. This disease can affect both the leaves as well as the stems of pepper plants.

Bacterial Leaf Spot
Leaf spots caused by a bacteria called Cercospora capsici.

However, do note that symptoms will vary depending on the age or position of the leaves

Older leaves (or those in lower parts of the plant) may show small dark spots, while younger leaves (or those higher on the plant) will develop water-soaked spots with tan or gray centers and dark black edges.

If your area has humid and warm weather, it may cause these spots to grow larger.

The affected leaves will gradually die off by yellowing, turning brown, and then falling off the plant. But not just the leaves.

Your pepper fruits may also be affected. The bacteria can cause sunscalds to develop on them.

Unfortunately, there is currently no treatment for Bacterial Leaf Spots. If you have any infected plants in your garden, they will need to be removed and discarded. Do not use them as compost, either.

It’s recommended to avoid planting peppers and tomatoes in areas where bacterial leaf spot has occurred—instead, rotating crops as necessary.

Tobacco Mosaic Virus

Lastly, black spots on pepper plant leaves could indicate the presence of a virus known as Tobacco Mosaic Disease.

This can happen if you touch or handle anything made from tobacco before touching the pepper plant.

black sport because of Tobacco Mosaic Virus
The effects of the TMV on a plant’s leaves.

This virus is spread by contact with tobacco plant’s sap; unfortunately, there’s no known cure. 

If your plant shows signs of infection, it is important to remove and destroy it immediately. If not, the virus will spread from plant to plant until all of your gardens are afflicted.

The only good “cure” for this is washing your hands before touching any pepper plants if you have recently handled tobacco products.

How To Get Rid Of Black Spots on Pepper Plants

harvest peppers
Certain types of peppers are resistant to specific kinds of bacterial, fungal, or viral infections

Other than some of the tricks shown above, there are a couple of things that you can do to avoid black spots from developing in your pepper plants in the future.

Grow Disease-Resistant Variants

Certain kinds of peppers are resistant to diseases that can cause black spots.

For example, many pepper variants are resistant to F. oxysporum infection, such as Darina, Dobrynya, Beglitsky, Hercules, and Rostov Jubilee peppers.

Consider choosing and planting them in the future if Fusarium has recently struck your crops.

Keep from watering the leaves

Pathogens can be caught up in the leaves of your pepper plants. If you water them by drizzling water from the leaves down, the pathogens can fall into the soil and further infect your garden.

So, a good way to avoid this is to water the plants as close to the ground as possible. It can strain your back, but at least your plants won’t suffer from diseases as often.

Also, another good technique is to allow the soil to dry completely before you water it.

Crop Rotation

Avoid planting the same crop in the same patch of garden that’s already been known to cause small black dots on plants.

If you do, it will keep the conditions alive, and the productivity of your crop will suffer. Not to mention how your soil’s nutrients will be depleted more quickly.

Rotate the crops once every two or three years, and you won’t have to deal with this problem.

Keep a Close Eye on the Plants

Keep a close eye on your plants as they grow, and take action immediately when you see signs of diseases.

If you see any yellow, brown, or black spots on the leaves of a plant, clip off these leaves and discard them to prevent the spread of the disease through your entire crop. Discard the whole plant if necessary.

Avoid Putting Infected Plants into Compost

If you put the diseased plants into compost, the pathogens will leak into the soil. When you use it to fertilize other plants, they will also become diseased.

Throw them away or burn them off. Under no circumstances are diseased plants worth keeping!

Other Color Spots on Pepper Leaves

White Spots

If white spots pop up on the leaves of your pepper plants, same as on green bean leaves, it can be a sign of a fungal disease called “powdery mildew”.

In its early stages, it may look like ash or flour dusted on the surfaces of the plant. As it progresses, the infection may cause yellowing of the leaves and eventual defoliation if not treated promptly.

Since fungi cause it, applying fungicides to your plants is the best way to prevent this. But it should be used even before symptoms pop up.

You’ll also want to avoid overcrowding your plants or letting water and moisture collect on the leaves. These are great conditions for fungi to develop and kill your plants!

Yellow Spots

Various issues can cause yellow spots on pepper plant leaves.

These include disease, nutrient deficiencies, lack of water or humidity, insect infestation, sunscald, and chemical burns from over-fertilization.

In some cases, they may also be caused by poor soil drainage or improper soil pH levels.

If you’re worried about diseases, unfortunately, many pathogens can cause your pepper plants’ leaves to turn yellow.

For example, phytophthora blight — caused by fungi — can cause the leaves to turn yellow.

Then, as time goes on, the leaves will develop brown or black lesions and eventually die off. Fungicides can help you fend off these fungi.

Other diseases like bacterial leaf spot, tobacco mosaic virus, and powdery mildew … we’ve mentioned them before. And among some of their symptoms are yellowing leaves! Watch out for them, too.

Brown Spots

The causes for brown spots aren’t all that different from other spots. They can be caused by nutrient deficiencies, fungal infections, hours of the direct sun burning the leaves, or insects feeding on the leaves.

Diseases like bacterial leaf spots and phytophthora blight can also cause brown spots to form on the leaves.

The fixes should remain mostly the same: use fungicides, and exercise good planting techniques like spacing out your plants to avoid overcrowding.

And, of course, be sure to use the water near the base of the plants rather than the leaves. Moisture encourages bacterial and fungal growth.


Now that you’ve learned all there is to know about the reason behind and the treatments for tiny black spots on plant leaves

We hope you’ll be able to save your garden and crop if this is the problem you’re currently battling! Gardening is hard work, but it’s super rewarding when your pepper plants eventually bear fruits.

If you have any other questions you’d like to ask us about this problem or anything else, don’t hesitate to reach out via the comment section below! We’ll get back to you as soon as we can.

Samuel Mark

Hello I am Samuel. Samuel's Garden is a garden blog where I share my experiences in garden caring and tree growth. Hope you enjoy it!

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