Oedema – Always something to learn

So, I learnt a new word yesterday – Oedema. In the three years or so I’ve been growing Chilli plants I’ve never once come across this. It’s a disease that can happen when plants take up more water than they can actually handle and there is a lot of humidity in the air


When I first saw it, I panicked. I thought my time had come to battle the Aphids. I’ve dealt with Aphids before and they can devastate a plant if you’re unlucky. This looked different though. Sure they looked like they where eggs but I couldn’t scrape them off. Still, I was convinced I was infested. Four plants like this, quickly moved to the other side of the garden.

I was busy in the garden at the time so I fired off a quick tweet asking people what they thought. Well more accurately I practically begged someone / anyone to tell me that it wasn’t what I thought it was…

The first tweet came back within minutes, seemingly agreeing with me. Damn.

Wanting an instant second opinion, I went to Facebook and asked the same question.

Again, within minutes. People thought the same as me. Damn, damn.

But then – A little glimmer of hope, some light at the end of a tunnel, a shining beacon in the Aphid fog. A word floating across the internet, “Oedema

I’ve already said I’d never heard of it so I hit Google.

Oedema is a physiological disorder that develops when roots take up water faster than it can be used by the plant or transpired through the leaves. Water pressure builds up in the internal cells of the leaves causing them to burst, leaving dead cells that are visible as a blister, primarily on the undersides of leaves.”

(Courtesy of Missouri Botanical Garden.org)

Hmmm. Made sense.

I confirmed with some other leaves that I couldn’t scrape them off, and sure enough, they wouldn’t.

Oedema on Chilli Plant

All the while more people telling me on Facebook it was Whitefly / Aphid and Twitter more or less unanimously calling it Oedema.

The more I read on Oedema though, the more it made sense. I’d been bottom feeding my plants this year and taken to leaving water in the trays they sat in most of the time. As I was also trying to keep them cool. They’ve been in my Greenhouses a lot more than previous years due to my distrust of the British Summer.

Doing Well

So, basically I’d given my plants the perfect conditions to develop the disease. Hands up, my fault.

Thankfully it seems that it’s pretty easy to treat – Let the roots dry out a bit and let air circulate around the plants. It’s also an idea to see if they need potting up and do so if required.

As luck would have it, and for an entirely different reason I’d already let my plants out for some fresh air over the weekend.

Chilli Plants Outside

This was more to try and let the pollinators better chance to get at my flowers than anything else. Funnily enough after more advice given on Facebook!

Hopefully this will be the last of it. I’ll let my plants roots dry out a lot more and try and give them more air than I have been doing. I will even re-pot one of them at the weekend, just to be safe.

It’s a delicate balance. I thought my plants where doing well this year because of the things I’d been doing differently. But, alas, not exactly.

It’s another example of how brilliant it is to be connected to the Growing Community in this day and age though. Facebook and Twitter both helped me diagnose a problem and offered advice on how to fix it.

It isn’t that long ago that I’d have been taking a trip down the library and trying to find all this information out. But, no. It took less than half an hour to diagnose and solve the problem.

And that my friends, is brilliant. And thanks, once again, to everyone who helped!

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