White Spots on Potted Plants’ Leaves: causes and solutions

White spots on leaves

You take great care of your plant, give it the right amount of sunlight, water and made it grow in the right soil, and now it’s full of these white spots. So, why do potted plants’ leaves keep getting white spots?

The white spots on your plant can be from one the following:

  • Powdery mildew
  • Excess salts
  • Watering potted plants with hard water
  • Mealybug
  • Spider Mites
  • Edema

Apart from diseases like powdery mildew, several conditions such as releasing the excess salts on the leaves can cause white spots on potted plants. Leaf mildew is a fungal disease that is mostly caused by high humidity in the soil and poor circulation of air around your potted plants.

If you experience white spots on your potted plants’ leaves, don’t panic. This article will discuss easy solutions!

Powdery Mildew

If you are a gardener, powdery mildew is something you experience every day. It occurs when the conditions of the soil are not favorable. Depending on the type of your potted plant, very low sunlight, excess moisture, cooler temperatures, and poor circulation of air in the soil might have caused powdery mildew on your plants’ leaves.

Solution: mix baking soda with vinegar and wipe this mixture over the infected leaves. This is a perfect solution that will remove white spots caused by powdery mildew from the leaves of your potted plants. After acquiring this solution, spray it on your potted plants’ leaves and leave it to dry out for a few hours. Are you following? Before spraying the solution, ensure you pluck the foliage with white spots on it.

There is one thing you need to avoid; overhead watering. Instead, use a fan to increase circulation. Overhead watering also leaves hard water on your potted plants’ leaves.

Excess Salts

Potted plants such as jade plants store water in their fleshy leaves. These houseplants capture water when rain falls and store it to use it when they need it. But rainwater capture salts from the air and soil as it drops down.

Picture by: John Robert McPherson

When you come in to spray the leaves with a salty solution, the moisture that was trapped passes through the leaves during transpiration, and now the moisture that evaporates leaves salt remains on your potted plants’ leaves.

Solution: this is one of the major causes of white spots on potted plants’ leaves which is quite easy to rectify! Moisten a soft cloth and use it to wipe out the white spots. This will quickly restore the appearance of your potted plants’ leaves. Because rainwater also hits the soil where your potted plant is situated, you may rinse the soil with water repeatedly. 

Remember that salt in the potted plant’s soil can be forced out through the leaves. In such cases, white spots appear round. If you experience this, flushing the soil repeatedly is the best remedy as it will help in diluting the salt.

Watering Potted Plants with Hard Water

Did you know watering your plants with hard water can create white spots on the foliage? Yes, it does.

Water is just water you might think, but that is actually not true. In a lot of places, just normal tap water is really hard. This means it has high levels of dissolved calcium and magnesium in it. When the plant receives too many minerals, it will get rid of the excess amounts of minerals through the leaves and the white spots will appear.

Solution: simply use a weak vinegar solution to wipe out the white spots. If the spots keep getting back, you want to use water that is softer. To make hard tap water soft, you can use rainwater or distilled water to water your plants. This should help to permanently remove the white spots.

If you like rare plants, check out the Alocasia infernalis complete care guide!


If your plant is affected by mealybug, you will see a cotton-like white residue on the plant’s leaves. The white residue can be the egg sacs of the mealybug or the pest itself.

Are you still seeing a sticky residue on your potted plant? That is honeydew. Mealybugs secret honeydew which can in turn attract ants.

Mealybugs are small and oval in shape and white in color. That is why you probably see white spots on your plants’ leaves and you are wondering what it could be.

How are mealybugs dangerous to your potted plants’ leaves? Well, mealybugs literally suck the life out of your plants’ fleshy leaves. A single mealybug cannot harm your plant but you know what? These pests multiply quickly and can easily finish off your plant and destroy the beauty you have struggled to build. Get a remedy!

Solution: the first thing you should do if you suspect mealybugs have affected your plant, isolate the affected plant. After isolating the plant, use mealybug pest control to remove the white residue and spots formed on your plant’s leaves.

Then, use a solution of water and a little amount of alcohol together with some dish soap without bleach to wash down the entire plant. Leave the plants for a few days and repeat the whole process.

Using neem oil may also kill mealybugs.

Mealybugs damages potted plants and they are difficult to do away with. However, if you can spot mealybugs on your plants early before they multiply, you may save your plant.

Spider Mites

Spider mites on houseplants and outdoor plants is a common problem worldwide. This condition can not only make the plant look terrible but it can eventually even kill the plant if not be taken care of.

There are 1200 different kinds of spider mites and more than 100 of them can be seen as plaque. Spider mites have needle-like mouths and feed themselves by sticking these sharp mouths into the plants’ leaves. Because they can reproduce at such a fast rate, they can do a lot of damage in a short period of time. That is why it’s best to take of these insects as fast as possible.

Solution: spider mites are plant-eating mites that resemble tiny spiders. White spots caused by spider mites can be rectified by looking for tiny webs and treating your houseplant with a product labeled for mites. You can spray your plant with neem oil spray. You can buy natural neem oil solution on Etsy click here.


Picture by: WikiCommons

Some houseplants are affected by a condition called edema. You have probably heard of edema if you are a gardener. Edema is a condition whereby the roots absorb water faster than the plant can use it. This sickness can develop when the leaf tissue is saturated with water, due to the root pressure that continues to push water up into the plant when there is poor evaporation. Edema is often influenced by the environment of the plant, for example when the soil is warm and moist and the air temperature is low. This also causes white spots to appear on the leaves’ foliage of some potted plants like a jade plant.

Solution: reducing the rate at which you spray water on your potted plants’ leaves.


White spots on potted plants’ leaves are a reality that gardeners face every day. It is not news. It happens to everyone loving houseplants. Although most houseplants are easy to care for, the enclosed environment most of them are situated in makes them susceptible to pests. No, it is not just pests. Some of your practices cause white spots on your potted plants’ leaves! Using watering your plants’ leaves with hard water, and not using a fan to spray water on the leaves cause white spots. Ensure what you are doing is right for the safety of your plant!