Holes in Leaves & How to Beat the AZ Heat

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Q: Dear Dave,

I discovered your site earlier this year and it’s been a tremendous help.  This is my first year growing peppers and I’ve noticed lately that a couple of my plants have holes in some of their leaves. I live in the Phoenix, AZ area and am growing the peppers in a mixture of Amend and sand. The plants get watered for approximately 10 minutes every late afternoon and are fed using fish emulsion and Epsom salt spray alternating weeks. They are a deep green and appear to be healthy aside for the holes in some of the leaves. So far I haven’t used any sort of pesticides. Do you have any ideas what is causing this problem?  Also, should I start shading my plants now that the weather in Phoenix is getting over 100 degrees?  They are flourishing so far but I’m concerned about them burning up in the desert sun. 


Stan Kochman


A: Hello Stan:

There are some insects, like flea beetles, that eat holes in the leaves and then move on.  Usually, the larger the plant (and the more leaves), the more resistant it is to this kind of injury.  If there are no other symptoms, your plants will probably recover and be fine.  If the problem is severe, you can sprinkle sevin dust on the tops and bottoms of the leaves, or make a fine-mesh screen to cover the plants, which is a pain but usually works.  Some varieties of plants, like chiltepins and sometimes habaneros, prefer semi-shade to full sun, especially the Arizona sun in the summer.  If you see leaf yellowing, leaf drop, or sunscald on the fruits, you should shade them. Simple window screen resting on posts will work for this.  Your watering and feeding techniques look fine.


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