Arrowhead plants or Syngonium are tropical houseplants with variegated and non-variegated spade-shaped leaves. But it becomes a matter of concern when these leaves start developing white spots.
Common reasons behind white spots on your arrowhead leaves are pest infestations, lack of nutrients, direct sunlight exposure, and low light. The leaves lose their chlorophyll due to direct sun exposure or low light and eventually become white. Provide adequate care to keep the plant thriving.
In this article, I will explain the different reasons behind arrowhead leaves turning white and what we should do to fix the issues.
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Why do my arrowhead leaves have white spots?
One of the main reasons why arrowhead leaves develop white spots is chlorosis, where the plants don’t produce enough chlorophyll to keep the leaves green.
But that’s not all, as many other reasons can cause white spots on your Syngonium leaves.
The reasons for white spots are:
- Pest infestation
- Powdery mildew
- Direct sun exposure
- Low light
- Lack of nutrients
- Temperature fluctuations
- Poor water quality
- Coldwater spot
- Alkaline soil
Let’s discuss these in detail.
Pests such as spider mites and mealybugs can cause white spots.
Let’s find out how to deal with them.
Mealybugs are tiny bugs that feed on the sap of plants.
They are tiny and hide on the undersides of leaves, so it is not easy to detect them.
However, they release a sticky white substance called honeydew after feeding the sap.
Honeydew tastes sweet and attracts ants, and encourages the growth of mold.
The presence of mealybugs makes the leaves of your arrowhead develop white spots wherever they release the honeydew.
Spider mites resemble spiders but are extremely tiny and difficult to detect.
Similar to mealybugs, spider mites also tend to hide on the undersides of leaves.
They pierce the leaves and feed on the sap of your Syngonium, leading to the white spots on the leaves.
How to remove pests from the arrowhead?
- Start by handpicking the visible pests. Don’t forget to wear gloves while doing this.
- Next, give the plant a good shower by placing it under running water. This will wash off the pests, honeydew, and web-like structures that spider mites create.
- You can dip a cotton ball into rubbing alcohol and use that to wipe the leaves that have pests on them.
- The next thing to do is spray neem oil. It is organic and doesn’t harm your arrowhead but kills the pests effectively. It also prevents further infestation. Apply this every 4-5 days to get rid of the pests.
- You can also use insecticidal soaps to remove the pests but ensure they are not too concentrated. You must leave this on the plant for a few hours and then rinse it.
- Consider pruning the heavily infested areas of your Syngonium.
- If nothing works and the pests still don’t go away, you must take the help of pesticides. However, you must be extra careful while using them as they contain chemicals that might be harmful if you don’t know the correct method of application. Read the instructions thoroughly before applying the pesticides.
Powdery mildew is a fungal disease that often causes white spots on indoor and outdoor plants.
If your arrowhead has been affected by powdery mildew, you will notice a powdery white substance on the leaves.
The white spots you initially notice start spreading and eventually cover all the leaves.
If you’re wondering why this occurs, the reason can be that your arrowhead is not getting good airflow.
If your arrowhead plant is grouped with other houseplants to raise the humidity levels around it, there are chances that the plant is not receiving proper airflow due to a lack of ventilation.
Leaving your plant in this condition for too long can lead to issues like:
- Droopy leaves
- Falling leaves
- Death of the plant
So, if you notice powdery mildew on your arrowhead, you must treat it soon.
How to treat powdery mildew?
To treat powdery mildew, you must:
- Isolate your arrowhead plant and keep it away from other houseplants, so other plants don’t get affected. This will also help the plant get proper airflow.
- Next, prune all the affected leaves with white spots or have turned entirely white. It would be better to burn the leaves instead of throwing them away randomly.
- Don’t forget to disinfect the pruners after you prune the affected leaves.
- You can use neem oil to treat powdery mildew. Applying it will kill the fungus and prevent it from returning.
Here are a few other points you should keep in mind.
- Avoid watering the leaves when you water your arrowhead. The water will drip from one leaf to another and spread the infection.
- Don’t overcrowd your arrowhead plant by keeping it too close to other houseplants.
- Avoid overwatering your arrowhead. Don’t water if the soil is already moist. Wait for 50-75% of it to dry out.
- Don’t let the excess water sit in the cache tray for too long. Empty it whenever you notice water in it.
Try to prevent powdery mildew, as preventing is much better than treating an affected plant.
Direct sun exposure
Arrowhead plants can adjust to different lighting conditions, but they can’t tolerate direct sunlight.
Arrowheads prefer indirect sunlight as they are used to dappled sunlight in their native lands.
This makes them ideal houseplants.
But if you are unaware of this and expose your Syngonium to direct sunlight, you are causing damage to the plant.
Direct sunlight scorches the arrowhead leaves, which results in crispy brown spots.
This is an initial sign of sunburn.
The brown spots will eventually turn white if you don’t do anything about it.
This is more likely to happen in the summer and spring months when the sun’s intensity is maximum.
Therefore, you must never expose your arrowhead to direct sunlight.
And if you want your arrowhead to get adjusted to the sun, you need to give it time and help it adjust gradually instead of moving it to direct sunlight suddenly.
How to fix a sunburned arrowhead plant?
If your arrowhead has scorched leaves, you must start by relocating it to a spot where it won’t get direct sunlight.
If your arrowhead is placed near a window, bring it 5-7 feet away from the window or use blinds to filter the direct sunlight.
If your arrowhead is sitting outside, you might want to bring it inside or find a spot that gets less intense light.
Next, you must prune all the affected leaves as these won’t turn healthy again. The upper leaves exposed to the sun are likely to be affected.
If you want your arrowhead to adjust to the direct sunlight, start by taking it outside for short periods and then bring it inside.
Gradually increase the time and check the plant’s reaction.
If your arrowhead doesn’t react well to the changes, leaving the plant in a bright area with indirect light would be better.
Also read: Arrowhead Plant Sunburn: Signs, Causes & Fix
Some arrowhead varieties, mostly the non-variegated ones, can adjust to the lower lighting conditions.
However, most varieties, including the variegated ones, will require bright indirect sunlight.
But Syngoniums are not low-light plants.
Low light indicates areas that receive as low as no light. (50-150 foot-candles)
If your Syngonium is not getting enough sunlight, it will lead to chlorosis.
This is a condition where your arrowhead plant can’t produce enough chlorophyll due to lack of light, and therefore, the leaves develop white spots and turn white.
Without enough light, your arrowhead will also become weak as it will fail to perform its daily functions effectively and won’t have enough energy for growth.
You might also notice leggy growth in such conditions.
How to deal with low light conditions?
If your arrowhead is not getting enough light, you must move the plant to a brighter location.
Rotate the plant regularly to ensure it gets light on all sides.
If your house doesn’t receive enough natural light, you can bring artificial lights and put your arrowhead under them.
Lack of nutrients
Arrowhead plants require nutrients for functioning properly.
Since the soil loses its nutrients with time, you must provide them through fertilization.
If you notice white spots on the upper parts of the leaves, it indicates that your arrowhead is not getting enough nutrients.
The main nutrients that arrowheads need are:
|Nitrogen||Encourages foliage growth|
|Phosphorus||Encourages root growth|
|Potassium||Regulates the general functions of the plant.|
Other than these, the arrowhead also requires nutrients like Iron, Copper, Magnesium, Calcium, Manganese, etc.
A manganese deficiency can cause white and yellow spots on leaves, while an iron deficiency will reduce chlorophyll production in plants.
How to fix the nutrient deficiency in arrowhead plants?
The only way to address this is by providing nutrients to the arrowhead plant.
Avoid fertilizing in the winter season, as it is the arrowhead’s dormant period.
Arrowhead plants can’t tolerate temperature fluctuations.
They need stable temperatures between 60-85°F to thrive.
But if you place the plant in areas where the temperatures are not stable, the plant will fall prey to stress.
Due to stress, the plant becomes unhealthy, and you see the signs on its leaves.
The leaves turn white due to the stress.
How to avoid putting the arrowhead through temperature fluctuations?
While deciding the placement of the arrowhead, you must keep the following things in mind.
- Avoid placing the arrowhead plant near windows and doors that are opened and closed frequently.
- Don’t expose the Syngonium to cold or hot drafts.
- Keep the arrowhead plant away from heating sources such as heaters, radiators, fireplaces, etc.
- Don’t place your arrowhead opposite the direct air coming out of the AC, as it can dry out the plant.
- Avoid placing the arrowhead plant near frosty windows or taking it outside during winter.
Poor water quality
Although arrowhead plants are not very sensitive to water quality, they can react if the water contains too many hard minerals.
Tap water often contains minerals such as chlorine, fluorine, chloramines, and bicarbonates.
If you keep using such water to water your Syngonium, the minerals start accumulating in the soil and on the leaves, leading to white spots on the leaves.
What are the alternatives to using poor-quality water on arrowhead plants?
- If your arrowhead is reacting to the tap water, avoid using it.
- You can instead use filtered water or rainwater to water your Syngonium.
- If you want to use tap water, you can leave it in the open overnight. This will reduce the hard minerals. You can then use it on the arrowhead plant.
White spots on leaves can be a sign of cold water shock.
The worst thing about coldwater spots is that you can’t fix them once it occurs.
So, it is always better to prevent it.
If you water your arrowhead with freezing water, the leaves will get shocked, and the chloroplasts will get damaged.
This will lead to the white spots on the leaves.
How to prevent cold water spots on the arrowhead plant?
Follow these steps if you want to prevent cold spots on arrowhead plants.
- Don’t water the leaves with cold or freezing water.
- Allow the water to sit for some time and let it come to room temperature, after which you can give it to your arrowhead.
Edema is mainly caused due to the shock from improper watering.
If you don’t water your arrowhead plant for a long period and overwater it right after that, the plant gets shocked.
Due to this shock, the leaves will develop white spots.
How to fix edema?
First, you need to remove the damaged leaves.
The next thing you need to do is determine when your arrowhead requires water.
You must check the soil moisture of your arrowhead regularly. You can use a moisture meter for this.
You should water your arrowhead plant whenever the soil goes 50-75% dry.
This will help you avoid both overwatering and underwatering.
Ensure that the pot has working drainage holes and the soil is well-drained.
Syngonium enjoys acidic soil with a pH ranging between 6.5-7.5.
But if the soil loses its acidity and becomes alkaline, it will become unsuitable for the plant.
When the soil is alkaline, the plant faces difficulty absorbing nutrients from it.
So due to this alkaline soil, the leaves will turn white.
How to make the soil acidic?
You can either repot your arrowhead with soil with a suitable pH level.
Or you can try to change the pH level of the soil.
- You can change the soil’s pH level by adding compost or leaf mold to the soil.
- You can also try applying vinegar or lemon solutions.
- You can add coffee grounds along with the compost or mulch to make the soil acidic.
If these don’t work, you can go for the commercial to increase the acidity.
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White spots are not uncommon on houseplants, so don’t panic if you notice white spots on your arrowhead leaves, don’t panic.
I have mentioned the possible reasons and the ways of dealing with them to fix the white spots and stop them from coming back.
It all boils down to taking proper care of your arrowhead plant and providing the suitable conditions that allow it to remain healthy and grow.
Use a neem oil solution and apply it to your Syngonium once a month to prevent pests and diseases.