Herbicide damage to pepper: Can peppers be damaged by herbicides?

Herbicides are powerful, but if a chemical poisons one herb, there is a good chance that it will also harm other plants. Injuries caused by pepper-based herbicides are especially possible if these chemicals are applied in the garden. Pepper plants are sensitive and the damage could ruin your crop, but you can avoid the damage and even save your plants that have been affected by the herbicide.

Can peppers be damaged by herbicides?

Pepper plants can be absolutely damaged by herbicides. In fact, they are more sensitive to herbicides than many other vegetable plants. When a herbicide is applied to control weeds, vapours or small droplets may end up in parts of the garden where you did not intend to apply the chemical, such as in peppers. This is called herbicide drift, which can cause damage to healthy plants.

Signs of herbicide damage in pepper

Pepper plants damaged by herbicide drift may show various signs of damage:

  • Smaller leaves
  • Shortened internodes
  • Yellowing of leaves
  • Malformed leaves
  • Twisted stems or leaves

If you see these signs on your pepper plants, you may have herbicide damage, but it can also be caused by things like a nutrient imbalance, a pest or other environmental factors. An easy way to determine if the herbicide is responsible is to look for weeds near the pepper plants. If they show similar damage, it’s probably because of the herbicide.

Prevention of herbicide drift injuries

Herbicides and peppers are not a good mix, so chemical-free weed control is your best option. If you decide to use a herbicide, do not use it before planting pepper plants and do not use grass or mulch in the garden if it has been contaminated with the herbicide. Chemicals take time to break down and your newly planted peppers may pick up herbicides at the root. Apply the herbicide to the weeds on a calm, windless day.

If you have peppers damaged by herbicides, whether or not you can save them depends on the extent of the damage. If it is only light to moderate, give your plants special care. Water them regularly, give them adequate fertilizer, and practice rigorous pest control. The better you improve the condition of your pepper plants, the more likely they are to recover and give you a good yield.

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