Despite being easy to grow, the pea plants, whether the oriental pea pods, garden variety, snow peas, or sugar snap peas, are not immune to problems. You will learn about various pea plant issues and problems and how to fix them through this article.
A Short Description of Pea Plants
Pea, also known as Pisum Sativum, falls under the annual herbaceous legume category and is part of the Fabaceae family. It also has other names, like green pea, English pea, and garden pea.
A lot of those who love gardening are also fond of growing peas because of their edible seed pods and seeds.
Peas can be described as climbing or bushy plants. They feature slender stems that use tendrils to get attached to a substrate. Every leaf of this plant comes with one to three pairs of oval leaflets capable of reaching 1 to 6 cm long.
Peas also produce red, purple, or white pea flowers. They also have compressed or swollen green seedpods that are either curved or straight. These pods vary in size ranging from 1.5 to 2.5 cm in width and 4 to 15 cm in length.
It is in each pod wherein you can find the pea seeds that range from around 1 to 10 pieces. Pea can be classified as an annual, too. It can survive one growing season only. It is also capable of growing peas around 30 to 150 cm.
Pea also originated from Southwest Asia. You can easily grow peas but it is advisable to plant them as early within the year as possible to promote a fruitful season. By planting peas early, expect to find their sprouts within just three to five weeks.
They will also start flowering within three to four months. If no garden peas are produced within the mentioned period, then it is highly likely that there is already a problem that you have to fix.
How to Spot Diseases in your Pea Plants?
Most pea plants are relatively free of any diseases. This is especially true if you decided to use disease-resistant cultivars or pea seeds. Still, there are several instances when certain pea diseases develop.
One of the usual offenders of pea plants is the powdery mildew. They will also be at risk of developing other problems triggered by viruses, fungi, and bacteria. There is a high chance for these diseases to spread through water, soil, air, animals, tools infected with them, and infected gardeners.
To ensure that your pea plants will not suffer from the negative effects of certain diseases and other severe infections, you have to know how to spot them right away. Treat the plants before the disease destroys them. That way, you will be successful in managing its symptoms.
Observe and spot the presence of diseases using this approach composed of three important steps:
The first step will involve researching the risks. This means studying prevalent diseases affecting peas in your geographic location. This will give you an idea about the exact issues that your plant may encounter in the future.
Invest in plant-resistant varieties as much as possible. This should help you prevent diseases initially. Note that you can find several hybrid varieties of pea that can resist specific diseases.
You should also examine your plants every day. Check them daily so you can detect right away if there are emerging or present symptoms of certain diseases.
Spot or catch problems early
The ultimate goal for the research and examination steps is to detect or spot any problem or disease as early as possible. You have to catch any signs of ailment as soon as possible, so you can quickly and promptly treat them.
This is the key to the timely recovery of your pea plant, whether they are the snap peas or any other variety or species.
Signs and Symptoms of Infected Plants
It is important to note that the diseases affecting peas can cause some problems in their fruits, leaves, stems and pods. To spot infections right away, here are the signs and symptoms to watch out for depending on the specific parts of the plant that may be affected:
Among the first parts of the plant that you have to examine should be the pea leaves. Observe to find out if there are infected leaves daily and find out if they have the following symptoms of potential diseases:
- Powdery leaves
- Stunted foliage that also looks dead and starts to turn yellow
- Papery brown, shiny, and dark green pattern or spots
- Brown blotches
- Roots and stems
As for the roots and stems, here are some of the signs and symptoms that some pea problems and diseases may show:
- Mildew or mold
- Reddish, brown, or black spots – Oftentimes, this will also be accompanied by the peeling off of their exterior layers
- Stunted growth
- Blackened stems
Fruits and pea pods
Examine the fruits and pea pods, too, as they may show the following symptoms that indicate the presence of infected plants:
- Mildew or mold
- Blotched or spotted skin
- Discolored spots
- Dropped fruit
- Undeveloped or misshapen fruit
Possible Pea Plant Diseases
It is crucial to detect some diseases affecting plants right away to prevent such problems from leading to their eventual death. Some of the diseases that may infect peas are the following:
Fusarium wilt is a fungal disease or infection that usually infects tomato plants but also targets peas every now and then. This fungal disease tends to penetrate the plant through its roots.
Some signs that will let you know whether you have fusarium wilt infection are wilting foliage, yellowing leaves, and stunted growth. You can treat fusarium wilt by destroying and getting rid of every affected plant.
It is also advisable to practice crop rotation. This can help lower the risk of having an infected plant with this fungal infection. In case your plants dealt with fusarium wilt infection, make it a point to grow a pea variety that is resistant to it the next year.
You will know that it is resistant by checking the seed packet. It should have the letter “F” on its packaging.
Another potential pea problem is root rot, which refers to a fungal disease. Root rot attacks your plant as it gets transmitted through wind, spores, soil, and water. One sign that there is root rot is when the base of the plant turns yellow.
You will also notice its stems starting to wither. If left untreated, it is greatly possible for your plant to die from the root rot disease. One major problem with this disease is that it has the capacity to live and survive in the soil infected by it throughout the winter.
In other words, there is also a risk of it infecting new plants that grow in the upcoming season. Also, it is hard to treat root rot. The only thing that you can possibly do would be to identify the infected plants so you can completely eliminate and destroy them.
It would also be best for you to do some preventive measures. One of the things you can do to prevent root rot is to ensure that you consistently have a well draining soil. Do not overwater your plants, too, as it may only make them more prone to developing the disease.
Proper spacing is also one way to avoid root rots in peas. This means that each pea plant should have proper spacing or distance in between them. Space plants so there will be proper air circulation.
Another disease that may bug your pea plants is Ascochyta blight. This is more of a fungal disease that tends to spread and get transmitted during the winter season. It spreads due to the infected soil and plant debris.
When the spring season comes, the soil infected by Ascochyta blight will most likely spread its spores because of the wind and rain. To determine if your plants have Ascochyta blight, observe its different parts. One sign of this infection is the dropping of the plant’s buds.
Check the stems, too. If the stems have blackened parts, then it is highly likely that they are infected. You may also notice some brown or yellow parts on its foliage.
If it is indeed infected, you have to take out every plant in your garden. This is to help in managing and further preventing the spread of the fungus and significantly reducing the number of diseased plants.
Note that Ascochyta blight is a rapid spreader in the garden, which means that you should act on it right away, especially because there is also no fungicide that you can use for it.
There is also this condition affecting plants called downy mildew. Fortunately, you can easily identify downy mildew because it is accompanied by easy-to-spot symptoms, including some parts that turn yellow, seed pods showing some dark spots, and gray powder, which you can find at the leaves’ undersides. This gray powder somewhat resembles a mold.
Once you detected the presence of downy mildew in your peas and your entire garden, it is advisable for you to rotate crops. Do this for a minimum of four years. Ensure that you eliminate plant debris in your garden since spores thrive and live there.
You may also want to begin sourcing pea seeds that are resistant to the fungus. One more thing that you can do to prevent downy mildew from ever penetrating your plants is to have proper spacing to promote good air circulation.
Note that downy mildew will only develop if you plant your peas very close together as this may cause humidity.
Powdery mildew is another of the few fungal diseases that may affect your pea plant. It tends to bother your crops when the weather is warm. You will know that your plant has powdery mildew if there is a grayish or white powdery mold on its infected leaves, stems, and pods.
You can combat the powdery mildew problem by composting pea vines or turning them under right after the harvest season. It is also advisable to water the plant only in the morning.
You can also receive some help through proper fungicide application. It is also advisable to rotate crops. Moreover, you should get rid of any plant debris once the growing season ends and buy only peas seeds that are disease-free.
Your pea plant may also get the mosaic virus, which is kind of hard to cure at present. As a viral disease, it spreads to your plant due to the leafhoppers and aphids that come near it.
In other words, if the mentioned pests also thrive in your garden, then your peas will be prone to getting the mosaic virus.
To detect if your plant has this virus, check if it has distorted, brittle, and mottled dark and light green patterns on its leaves. Observe the pea growth, too. If it is stunted combined with the other symptoms, then it could indeed be the mosaic virus that’s causing them.
Solve this pea problem by getting rid of all the plants with the disease. Grow only disease-resistant varieties, too. In addition, you have to eliminate all broadleaf weeds from your garden since they may host the mosaic virus.
Bacterial blight is also one of those diseases that may affect pea plants. You can expect this disease to spread due to water. It could be from rain splash, human or pet activity in wet gardens, and overhead watering.
It usually afflicts peas that got damaged already by certain things, like the winter season or frost. Expect the bacterial blight to spread on and in the seed. It also thrives for up to three years.
Initially, the bacterial blight will appear as dark green and shiny water spots that exist on leaf surfaces. There is then a high chance for the spots with irregular shapes to turn papery. From brown, the spots may also turn translucent eventually with its middle part being lighter in color.
Not doing something to treat bacterial blight may cause its further spread, spotting all parts of the plant, including pods. This may also lead to the dropping of buds as well as the young pods.
For you to deal with bacterial blight, it is highly recommended to plant only the disease-free seed and the commercially grown ones. As much as possible, avoid using the seeds derived from other plants. This is important even if the seeds look healthy.
Get rid of every garden debris that occurs during the fall and make it an annual task to rotate crops. Another tip is watering the plants’ base. Avoid working around the plants if they still have wet leaves so you can prevent the bacteria from spreading.
Pea Enation Virus
Your pea may also be prone to getting the viral infection called pea enation. It has symptoms that come in the form of enations or outgrowths resembling blisters. You can find these outgrowths on the underside of each affected leaf.
The outgrowths or enations may also be visible on the pods. Other symptoms of this viral infection are translucent parts in the leaves and severe deformations.
An important fact about this virus is that it gets transmitted due to a few aphid species. To manage this, it helps to plant the crops early especially if you are in a place where the virus is already existing.
Pea planting early is the key to making the plants reach maturity before the virus gets the opportunity to cause severe damage. Aside from early planting, it is also advisable to control the aphids in your garden. Get rid of plants that may serve as hosts and reservoirs of the aphids so the virus will no longer spread.
Pea Streak Virus
The pea streak virus is also one of those viral diseases that may bother your pea plants. The virus may start affecting your plant due to the presence of green peach and pea aphids. These aphids can transmit and spread the virus.
There are a few signs that will help you detect the presence of this virus – among which are the appearance of streaks on the stems, pods, and leaves of the pea that range from purple to reddish brown, blistered, poorly filled, and deformed pods, and differently-shaped and differently-sized streaks on pods.
In most cases, the streaks on pods are also sunken. The virus may also be existing if the growing tips of the pea are starting to die back and its leaves begin yellowing.
Fortunately, it is rare for the pea streak virus to cause huge damage to peas. If you really need to treat the virus, you can use some appropriate insecticides. They can help kill the vectors or aphids, thereby lowering the risk of experiencing a secondary spread.
Pests and Insects
There are also pests and insects that you should prevent from coming near your pea plants; otherwise, they will be the bearer of certain problems. The pests and insects that may only cause unwanted effects on your peas are the following:
Pea aphids tend to multiply fast, so it is crucial for you to act on them right away if you notice their presence on your plant. They are green, pear-shaped, and soft insects with long legs and are up to one-eighth-inch long.
Aphids may suck your plant’s sap, leading to stunted and weak specimens. They can suck the juices present in the stems and leaves of your peas, causing them to wither, stunt the plant growth, and reduce their yields, meaning they will just produce pods in a smaller number than usual.
This pest can also cause the spread of certain diseases, including the pea mosaic virus and leaf roll. You can control the pea aphids with the help of either neem oil or insecticidal soap. You just have to rub off the mentioned solutions on the leaves or spray them into the infected parts.
You can also take advantage of the presence of ladybugs. The reason is that they are among the naturally-existing enemies of pea aphids, so their presence in your garden can definitely help control the insect.
Your plant may also encounter microscopic pests called pea weevils. This pest tends to lay eggs on legume seeds that are still developing. This is where the larvae feed that may cause an infected seed.
There is a high chance for dry peas to be infested with pea weevils if they show small worms and some holes within just a few weeks of storing them. To avoid this problem, it is highly advisable to plant early.
Turn the plant under after harvesting immediately. You may also want to make sure that you store your peas well. You can do that by spreading dried peas first on a cookie tray or sheet. Put it in your oven for about one hour.
Once the peas are cool enough, place them in a bag then put them in your freezer for about a week. After that, you can transfer them to a room temperature storage area.
Leaf miners can be classified as black and non-descript flies. While these flies are incapable of causing direct damage to your pea plant, they still have larvae recognized for giving birth to the problem.
In most cases, the damage that it causes includes the squiggly and yellow lines appearing on the plant’s leaves. Note that the lines are where the larva of the leaf miner bored their way so they can get to the leaf.
You will also know that there are leaf miners affecting your peas if there are blotches or spots on the leaves. To manage leaf miners, check all transplants for any sign that indicates that there is damage caused by the insects. Do this before you plant the peas.
It also helps to take out the plants from the soil right after you made your harvest. You can also use insecticides but do it only when you are one hundred percent sure that there is indeed leaf miner damage.
The reason is that spraying your garden with insecticides even when unnecessary may only lessen the number of the natural enemies of leaf miners.
Armyworms refer to the long larvae that are around one and one-half-inch in size that comes out from the tan to brown moth that you can often see in gardens. The larvae have smooth skin that greatly differs in color. You can find armyworms in pale green, black, and dark green-brown, among many others.
Some of them also have orange, black, white, or long stripes on the sides. Expect their colors to change once they reach maturity, which is why you may find it quite tricky and challenging to detect their presence.
One crucial fact about armyworms is that they mainly feed at night. They also do this in huge groups. Armyworms also tend to feed on the new and tender growth of the plants that serve as their hosts.
There are even instances when they consume the entire plant before they move to another. If your garden has transient armyworms, then controlling them may be a bit difficult. It would be best to detect them as early as possible, specifically the time when they are still immobile, so you can stop them from causing problems.
You can also prevent the existence of armyworms by ensuring that your lawn remains neatly trimmed. That way, you can lessen the number of areas in your garden or lawn where the armyworm moths can lay eggs.
It also helps to check your garden during nighttime, so you will see any sign that there are indeed armyworms. If you notice some of them feeding, pluck them right away from your plants. The plucked ones should then be dropped in a bucket containing soapy water.
Handpicking is an effective armyworm control. Just commit to checking your garden every night to ensure that you completely discover the presence of larvae and remove infected plants in their entirety.
Root Knot Nematodes
Your pea plant may also be infected by root knot nematodes. You can sense the presence of nematodes if their roots have galls around one inch in diameter and probably even smaller. Nematodes may also reduce the vigor of your plant.
In addition, the yellowing plant tends to wilt once the hot weather comes. Expect the galls caused by root knot nematodes to become visible in as little as one month before planting.
Also, take note that nematodes are in favor of sandy soils. This means that there is a possibility for a gardening field or area to incur damage if their soil is the sandy type.
For you to manage root knot nematodes, it is advisable to plant resistant varieties. Do this if you are sure that nematodes exist in the soil. Spend time checking or examining their roots in the middle of the season.
If possible, you can do the examination sooner especially if the signs and symptoms show the presence of nematodes. You can also solarize the fresh soil to lessen the nematode population.
It is also crucial to familiarize yourself with spider mites as they are among the pests that may affect your pea plants. You can solve the issue regarding spider mites by taking a close look at your plant, so you can determine if there are indeed signs of their existence in your garden.
One sign would be the presence of white, tan, or yellow spots on the plant’s leaves. You may also notice small red or white spots on leaves. These spots may move as they are the actual mites.
Another sign is the cottony and white webbing that you can find in the leaves’ underside. It also helps to isolate the plant suspected to be attacked by spider mites. Once you have isolated the plant, spray its stems and leaves with pressure water coming from your faucet or hose.
Ensure that you are spraying most, if not all, parts of the plant. This is a natural control for spider mites that you have to do repeatedly, so it will give you your intended results.
You can also control spider mites naturally with the help of natural predators. All you have to do is to introduce ladybugs, parasitic mites, and other natural predators of spider mites to the exact plant infected by them.
You can use ladybugs and some parasitic mites capable of killing spider mites. You can get your hands on them by buying them from reputable nurseries.
Some Preventive Measures
Note that while there are individual fixes to problems with pea plants, allowing you to resolve them, provided you caught and detected them early, it still helps to learn some of the most effective preventive measures that you can set up in place.
That way, all the problems we have discussed here will not bug your pea plant since you were able to prepare for their attack.
Do regular crop rotation
Remember that a lot of viruses, bacteria, and fungi, are already present in the garden soil for a long time. They have been there thriving for years and they may have just waited for the perfect time to become a predator to your other pea plants.
Lower this risk through crop rotation. This is possible if you plant the peas in one spot once every three years. Ensure that you do not exceed the required number of plantings in one location.
Improve the composition of soil
Before you plant peas, it helps to prepare a sufficient amount of organic matter or compost. The reason is that this can improve the garden soil. You can improve soil composition by nourishing it with additional nutrients and promoting good aeration.
With that, you have an assurance that your plant will grow stronger. This means that they will be capable of resisting infection and diseases.
Focus on planting pea varieties that are disease-resistant
Remember that there are plenty of hybrid varieties of the pea plant that were specifically developed to resist some diseases that may affect it. It is advisable to choose this variety to increase your chances of enjoying a healthy plant and a bountiful harvest.
Check the codes in the packets of seeds as well as in seedling containers. Among the codes that will indicate the disease-resistant nature of the plant and promote the pea plants healthy growth are the following:
- F for fusarium wilt
- B for bacterial blight
- PEMV for pea enation mosaic virus
- DM for Downey mildew
- PLR for pea leaf roll virus
- PM for powdery mildew
If these codes exist in the packet or container, then there is a high chance that your pea plant is truly capable of resisting diseases. In other words, you can at least prevent dealing with an infected seed.
Give proper amounts of water
What you should avoid is overwatering or underwatering the plant. Maintain a regular schedule for watering and stick with it. This is the key to growing vibrant and healthy plants.
Do not water directly nor overwater the plants. Stick to the required watering technique. It should be at the stem directly – the ones on the soil. This way, you can avoid wet soil and conditions that may cause fungi, viruses, and bacteria to multiply, develop, and thrive.
Make sure to use well-draining soil, too. Take note that most peas grow well in raised garden beds as the soil here has a low chance of becoming waterlogged. With that in mind, you also have to consider making your peas grow in raised beds to prevent water-related problems.
Get rid of infected plants
In other words, you have to destroy plants afflicted by the disease or infected by the virus, bacteria, or fungus. Burn or throw away all infected plants. Avoid keeping the infected ones in your garden, especially throughout the winter.
Avoid throwing the plants infected by the disease, virus, and fungus on the compost pile. The reason is that plants classified as disease-ridden still tend to cause the spreading of the disease to the garden soil and your other sets of plants. This tends to occur even if the plants are already dead.
Nourish plants with potassium
Note that two of the most vital nutrients needed by your peas are potassium and phosphorus. While it would be impossible for you to incorporate additional phosphorus into the soil once your pea plants begin to grow, you can still use a low-nitrogen fertilizer that is rich in potassium. This is a big help in nourishing your pea plant.
Ensure that there is compost or manure added to the garden before you ever plant peas. Another wise tip is side-dressing the plants with compost. It also helps to add mined rock powders or wood ash into the soil to increase potassium content.
Remove some plants
Do you have plants that are too close together? Then note that you can cut some of them down using sterilized gardening scissors. While you may feel like this tip is counterintuitive as it may also subsequently reduce the yield, remember that it can still provide several good results.
The reason is that it can lead to an increase in the number of healthy plants. The reason is that they will have good air circulation that can prevent fungal diseases. Since proper spacing after removing a few of them leads to the pea plants healthy growth, you have an assurance that this will also result in higher yields.
It is also a big help to begin spreading mulch around your pea plants. This should help in preventing the rain from causing the spread of spores. The good thing about the mulch is that it also aids in retaining sufficient soil moisture.
Dispose of debris
If the plants have debris, which often occurs in infected ones, you should work on removing and disposing of them. Note that some diseases have the ability to thrive on the debris for a max of a year. Remove garden debris to lower the risk of it surviving and spreading again the next season or year.
Clean gardening tools regularly
It is important for you to make it a habit to clean your gardening tools frequently. A wise tip is to clean them every time you finished using them in each plant. Sanitize the tools after every use to prevent bacteria, viruses, fungus, and other sources of diseases from spreading.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Why is my pea plant dying?
There are a few reasons why your pea plants are dying. It could be because of a fungal or a viral condition, like fusarium wilt, root rot, bacterial blight, downy and powdery mildew, and pea streak virus. Some pests and insects that penetrate your garden may also cause your plant to die quickly.
How do you save a dying pea plant?
If you have a dying pea plant, you don’t have to fret as there are still a few ways to save it. For one, you should provide it with the right amount of water. It could be either less or more depending on what your plant needs.
Avoid overwatering and underwatering as the inability to meet the water requirements of pea is one reason for it dying. Note that this plant needs the right balance of water in order for it to thrive.
Avoid giving it excessive amounts of water so it will not lead to fungal disease or root rot. The water you provide the pea should not also be too little that it will result in it wilting and dying.
Use your finger to check the exact level of soil moisture. You will know that it is time for you to water it if your finger detects that it is dry up to a couple of inches down.
In case the plant begins yellowing because of the stress caused by water issues, don’t worry too much as the yellowing leaves have a chance to go back to being green provided you meet its water requirements and soil moisture needs. If the yellowing leaves stop progressing, then it is a sign your new routine associated with watering is already working.
Do peas need a lot of water?
You do not have to give peas a lot of water since they are not fond of it. You just need to provide them with a moderate supply of water so they can still produce bountiful and healthy harvests.
Avoid underwatering and overwatering as it may only lead to its poor growth. Your peas can survive with one inch of water given once weekly.
Why are my pea plant leaves curling?
The leaves of your pea plant may start curling due to the presence of pests and insects. Aphids and other sucking insects, for instance, can cause their leaves to get distorted, leading to leaf curling. It could also be because of the presence of whiteflies, pests that may make your pea plant leaves curl upwards.
No matter how easy it is to grow and take care of peas, there will still be problems along the way. Fortunately, most of these problems are fixable. All it takes is to research the potential pea problems that you may encounter and their common fixes so you can prepare for them in advance and solve them right away once they occur.