Eggplant and Bell pepper leaf problem - (pics)

crs4June 3, 2009

I planted some eggplant and bell pepper seedlings in my newly constructed raised beds earlier this spring. (The beds were filled with a "garden soil" blend - topsoil, compost, sand - delivered from a local soil yard)

Initial growth looked good and was normal(and those leaves still look normal), but in the past few weeks the new growth began to curl as can be seen in the pictures. I have seen no insects or holes in the leaves. The plants are beginning to set fruits, but I can't imagine they will yield well with this problem they seem to be having.

Any ideas what it is?

Thank you for your time -


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Looks like thrips to me.

    Bookmark   June 3, 2009 at 3:02AM
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I could be wrong, but it looks like it may be a "Mosaic" viral infection.

I dont see any damage from chewing insects... no evidence of sucking pets present... no discoloration indicating a nutrient deficiency.

I did notice the newer growth seemed to be more affected. I'm not sure why that is, but if I had to guess - it would be because the virus has been recently introduced. Aphids, or other small insects can transmit this virus easily.

Just a possibility - I can, and have been, totally WRONG in assessing the cause of such problems.

Best of luck!


    Bookmark   June 3, 2009 at 3:04AM
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Hey Carl - I just noticed the post indicating it may be thrips. It's really hard to see them if they are on the plant, let alone in a photo. One way to tell is to take a affected leaf and tap it while holding a bowl of water under it. Some of the thrips should fall off, and into the bowl of water. You can take the bowl inside with a good light, and magnifying glass to see what pests are present - if any.

FYI - a white bowl makes it easier to see the tiny bugs, rather than a clear glass bowl.

Let us know what you find out...


    Bookmark   June 3, 2009 at 3:12AM
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Thank you for your suggestions. I checked leaves from 2 different plants, and on each I found a single 2mm cream colored bug. I don't know if it is a thrip(see below), but I'm guessing that this is not a heavy enough case of whatever this insect is to cause the damage I am seeing.

The problem seems to be affecting both my traditional as well as asian eggplants. My grape tomato leaves don't look right either but the adjacent Celebrity and Romas are fine. Hot peppers, squash, cukes and melons are all fine so far. I don't remember gardening being this tricky when I was a kid... : )

    Bookmark   June 4, 2009 at 1:27AM
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west_texas_peg(8a West Cen TX)

I hope you are able to determine what is causing your problem because some of my peppers are having the same problem.

Eggplants are fine...other than the darn holes in the leaves from the hail we had last week...who says pea-sized hail is not a problem!


    Bookmark   June 4, 2009 at 10:32AM
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dave_f1 SC, USDA Zone 8a(7b)

It could be thrips, could be a virus, could be nutritional, etc. When I first saw the malformed, cupped young leaves I thought calcium deficiency. That's exactly what I've seen on apple leaves. So that's a possibility maybe. If that's what it is, it can be caused by fluctuating soil moisture, excess of nitrogen, potassium, or magnesium, and other things. Good luck. Dave

    Bookmark   June 4, 2009 at 1:54PM
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Hello Carl,

I was wondering if you ever found out what was affecting your plants. My toms, eggplant, and peppers look exactly like yours. Was your yield reduced, did they recover, what did you try?


    Bookmark   July 18, 2010 at 8:47PM
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San Antonio, TX

We're having an identical problem this year, with eggplants (two varieties: Ichiban and Gretel), tomatoes (four varieties: Juliet, Celebrity, Phoenix and Mortgage Lifter), and two kinds of pepper (an anaheim called Big Jim, and pimiento).

I would post pics, but they look *exactly* like the original poster's photos - new leaves are curled/distorted in the same manner shown in the pics above. No visible insects, no discoloration or mottling on the leaves.

I supposed it could be a soil deficiency, but we have good soil that we add fresh compost to every season.

The Celebrity, at least, is supposed to be resistant to mosaic virus. The fact that there's no discoloration on the leaves would, to me, point away from mosaic virus. But I'm relatively new to gardening and relying on photos I can find on the internet.... I supposed there are a lot of other viruses it could be.

Suspect possibly spider mites, though I see no evidence of them at this time. (We had a major infestation last season, but not until later in the year when the plants were more established - we didn't know what we were doing, and composted the plants at the end of the season. From what I read online, they can survive the compost bin just fine, overwinter just fine.) We are now trying a foliar spray with seaweed/molasses from our local organic garden supply, hoping that this will help. But not very optimistic.... Not even sure spider mites are actually causing the problem.

Posting this hoping someone has some ideas.

This post was edited by fiddlechick on Sat, Apr 26, 14 at 1:56

    Bookmark   April 26, 2014 at 1:12AM
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seysonn(8a WA/HZ 1)

OP already has found insects !!. So the virus is not the cause.
I suspect APHID or Spider mite.
A would spray with a pesticide .

    Bookmark   April 26, 2014 at 3:21AM
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If you've ruled out thrips and viruses, the only possibilities that remain are:
Calcium deficiency
Boron deficiency
Herbicide injury

This post was edited by Slimy_Okra on Sat, Apr 26, 14 at 12:22

    Bookmark   April 26, 2014 at 12:11PM
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Thanks, folks - I really appreciate these replies.

We don't use herbicides, and have a tiny urban garden surrounded by other folks unlikely to be using herbicides.

Do you feel that mites are not a possibility? I'm unfamiliar with thrips, as we've not had a problem with them here to my knowledge. So my mind went to mites, which we have struggled with in the past, though never so early in the season. I presume they'd need to be treated differently.

    Bookmark   April 26, 2014 at 1:05PM
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An update - brought some leaves to the plant genius at our favorite local nursery, and he said it's a response to the relatively cool nights we're having this spring in South Texas (the weather has been all over the place). He didn't think it was any sort of insect pest. So we'll see how it goes. I hope this is all that it is - will post another update later in the season.

    Bookmark   April 27, 2014 at 9:43PM
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Hi fiddlechick,

Has your plants improved? I'm having the same problems with my Ichiban eggplants. They have been fine up until couple days ago.

    Bookmark   June 13, 2014 at 11:53PM
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wow, I'm having exact same problems!!! I've researched and researched until my head spun !!! I truly appreciate this forum and all of you , just joined and I now know (as all other possibilities have been exhausted) that the weird weather we've been experiencing is the culprit. I hope all manage to make it through. Much Appreciation!!

    Bookmark   June 14, 2014 at 1:09AM
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Mecdave Zone 8/HZ 9

Do a Gardenweb search for Chilli Thrips. It's a fairly new invasive pest working it's way up from the Gulf. It hit me for the first time this year in the Highland Lakes area. Many of the big box store starter plants were even showing CT damage around here a couple weeks ago.

Here's a recent thread on them...

    Bookmark   June 14, 2014 at 2:08PM
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Could be 2-4-D herbicide damage. People use "weed and feed" on their lawns all the time and the drift affects sensitive plants.

    Bookmark   June 15, 2014 at 7:59PM
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