Troubleshooting Guide: Why Does My Snake Plant Have White Spots?
White spots on snake plants are a specific problem with only a few potential causes. Once you have quickly identified the cause, implementing a solution is simple. Follow this guide to learn how.
- white spots on snake plants are not always sinister
- white spots can be caused by pests, diseases, or water quality
- implementing a solution is easy once you have identified the cause
Why Does My Snake Plant have White Spots?
It can be a confronting experience to discover your beloved snake plant has developed white spots on its leaves.
Not only does it ruin the aesthetics of your plant, but could it be a concerning development that requires your snake plant to be quarantined and isolated from other plants?
What are they? Why does my snake plant have white spots?!
The good news is there are only a few reasons known to cause white spots on snake plants. We have developed this guide to help you troubleshoot your mysterious white spots.
We’ll also walk through the following steps involved with treating the problem.
So embrace your inner Sherlock Holmes, grab your magnifying glass, and solve the mystery of your white spots.
Are the White Spots Pests?
Pests are one of the most common causes of white spots on your snake plants.
Specifically, sap-sucking pests that love to feed on the fleshy leaves of your snake plant.
As you have identified white spots, we’d put our money on mealybugs.
We suggest mealybugs because they have a white furry appearance and colonize your snake plants in nests that look like pieces of cotton wool.
Up close, mealybugs appear like ancient-looking insects with a hard exoskeleton that looks like armor. They have white fuzz covering their bodies, making them look like white spots on snake plant leaves.
You will often find them congregating on the undersides of your snake plant leaves. However, when colonies become pest infestations, they will move to the top side of the leaves due to lack of space.
We cover common snake plant pests in more detail HERE.
Another common pest that can appear as white spots on your snake plant is spider mites.
Spider mites can differ in colors, from red to brown and, as you may have already guessed, white.
They are generally smaller than mealybugs and are hard to see with the naked eye. However, like other spiders, they spin delicate webs on the snake plant foliage, which can look like white spots from a distance.
Like mealybugs, spider mites have specialized equipment to feed on the nutritious sap in the succulent leaves. And it will become a problem when their numbers develop into infestations on your snake plant.
The problem with spider mites is they don’t just stick to one plant. Spider mites will often explore and begin infiltrating other plants in the immediate vicinity.
They also weaken your snake plant and make them vulnerable to disease and other problems.
How to Get Rid of Pests from Your Snake Plant
We like to take a pressurized hose and apply a medium-pressure water jet to the entire plant.
Snake plant leaves are thick and fleshy so that they can stand up to a good amount of pressurized water.
Make sure to cover both the top and underside of the leaves and the crevices. This should dislodge the majority of the pest issue.
To cover all bases, we apply an organic insecticide, like Neem Oil, to target the spider mites that may have evaded the pressurized hose attack.
Are Diseases Causing White Spots?
Let’s focus on possible diseases that may cause your snake plant to develop white spots.
Strangely, pests and diseases are related problems. Often if your snake plants have pests, they can weaken your plant to the point they become susceptible to diseases.
A common disease that presents as leaf spots on your snake plants is powdery mildew.
It is a fungal disease that can quickly spread from leaf to leaf and from plant to plant.
Powdery mildew looks like furry patches that can range in color from white to grey. If you look at it closely (but not too close that you may inhale the spores), they are furry filaments with mycelium covering the surface of your plant.
Severe cases of powdery mildew result in white patches covering the entire leaf, which can engulf your snake plant to the point that it becomes a mushy texture and is overwhelmed, and dies.
Like other fungal diseases, powdery mildew thrives in stagnant, moist conditions that receive little direct sunlight.
How to Treat Powdery Mildew
If you suspect your snake plant is suffering from a bout of powdery mildew, we recommend some quick actions.
Firstly, isolate your snake plant away from other plants. Powdery mildew is transferrable and can contaminate other nearby plants.
Make sure to sterilize all tools and containers (pots) with rubbing alcohol that comes into contact with any disease and replace any contaminated potting mix with healthy soil.
The quickest and best form of treatment is a simple fungicide that can be applied to the infected leaves of the plant. You can source a budget-friendly option at your local nursery. Alternatively, they are also readily available online, in marketplaces like Amazon.
Once you have treated your snake plant for powdery mildew, place your snake plant in a bright light area with indirect light (away from direct light from the sun) with plenty of air circulation.
Water Hardness Causing White Spots
We have saved the least threatening cause for white spots on snake plants for last.
Did you know the minerals in your tap water differ worldwide?
It can vary between locations in the same country.
It is referred to as the ‘hardness’ of water, which can cause stubborn white spots to develop on the surface of your snake plant leaves.
Hard water develops when water filters through mineral deposits like limestone or gypsum. The water slowly absorbs the minerals from the sediment and ends up with high mineral concentrations. It is often supplied to suburban houses as tap water around the world, such as in European and US cities.
The problem arises when you use hard water to water your indoor plants. As the water falls onto the leaves and evaporates, the mineral buildup will remain, leaving white spots on your gorgeous snake plant leaves.
How to Clean Hard Water White Spots off Snake Plant Leaves
To clean the white spots from your leaves, you will need an acidic-based liquid to break down the mineral sediment on your leaves.
We like to use natural resources, such as lemon juice diluted in filtered or distilled water.
IMPORTANT – remember not to use tap water to clean off the hard water stains. It was the tap water that caused the problem in the first place!
For detailed step-by-step instructions (including a recipe), check out our article on HOW TO CLEAN WATER SPOTS OFF PLANT LEAVES.
White Spots on Snake Plant – Closing Comments
Seeing your beautiful snake plant with white spots on its leaves can be a stressful experience. However, as you should know by now, not all white spots are sinister.
Some spots can be resolved with a simple wipe-down of the leaves with a purpose-made solution.
Whatever the cause, we recommend you act quickly to ensure a healthy snake plant has the best possible opportunity to thrive.
- Mycelium. (2022, October 27). In Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mycelium