Snake plants have firm and shiny leaves that can tolerate a wide range of cultural conditions. However, if the condition remains unfavorable for long, they will suffer through a lot of problems, and white spots are one of them. But why do snake plants get white spots, and how can we fix the same?
Overwatering, pest infestation, and molds are common causes of white spots in a snake plant. Water your snake plant appropriately and take necessary actions to keep pests at bay. Apart from these low lighting, overfertilization and frequent repotting can also lead to white spots in a snake plant.
Improper lighting, watering issues, and improper cultural conditions can make the plant vulnerable, attract pests, and lead to fungal growth as well.
The snake plant needs some attention, and you should have some knowledge regarding their care and needs. Ignoring them can lead to unwanted problems and can exterminate them too.
Let us go through the following to have complete knowledge related to white spots on the snake plant.
Table Of Contents
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What causes white spots in snake plants?
White spots on snake plants can be due to several reasons. It could be:
- Poor drainage
- Watering issues
Let’s dive into the details of some common problems and how we can fix the same to avoid white spots in the snake plant.
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Excess salt in the water can cause white spots in snake plant
Snake plants should be ideally watered with filtered water, the reason being the tap water contains fluoride, excess salt and can create a problem for the plant. When you water your plant, the water evaporates slowly, but the salt remains.
The salts accumulate with time and lead to white spots that can even limit the plant’s growth. They also lead to fungal and bacterial growth.
There are two ways you can avoid this issue or further stop this problem is by watering the plant with filtered water.
If that is not possible, then keep a bucket full of water overnight so that the excess salt can sit at the bottom and then water with that in the morning.
Also read: All about watering your snake plant
Pest infestation leads to white spots in snake plant
Snake plants are not too sensitive plants but may get infested by pests. They can become weak due to pest infestation. Pests suck on the sap of snake plants and lead to white molds on plant leaves and stunt their growth as well.
It is essential to check your plant’s condition from time to time because pests can lead to your snake plant’s demise. Let’s see what these pests do to your plants and how you can get rid of them.
Also read: Do snake plant attract bugs?
Mealy bugs on snake plant
Mealybugs are soft-bodied and appear with white cotton masses on the plant. They insert their mouth-string on the plant and draw the sap out of the tissue.
A higher number of mealybugs can cause several issues such as leaf yellowing, white molds, curling, and weak plants. Use the following ways to control and treat the mealybugs invaded on your plant.
- Isolate the plant and prune out the infected parts of the plant.
- Dab the insects with cotton dipped in rubbing alcohol.
- Mix 1 tsp rubbing alcohol, 1 tsp vegetable oil, and 1 cup water and spray on the plant, repeat every few days till there is significant control.
- Soak rice in water for ten days. The soaked rice has fermented and converted into ethyl alcohol. Spray the liquid part using a spray bottle on the plant and wash the plant with plain filtered water after 1-15 minutes of spraying.
- Insecticidal pesticides available in the market are very effective on these bugs. They damage the outer body of the pests, dehydrate and kill them. However, use them as a last resort only.
- Neem oil disturbs the growth of mealy bugs and has antifeedant properties. Mix 1 tsp neem oil to 1 gallon of water and spray every 7-14 days as required.
Spider mites on snake plant
Spider mites are relatives of spiders spreading their webs on the leaves and sucking tissues. They are oval-shaped, reddish-brown, or pale in color. Due to the continuation of an infestation, the leaves can turn yellow and have white molds.
Following are a few ways to treat and control the infestation of spider mites.
Isolate the infested plant, prune infected parts, and discard them. Wash the plant with a strong stream of water. This will help you to get rid of the pests in large numbers.
Using biological insecticides, they attack a long-list of troublesome pests.
Apply weekly to prevent and control insect population explosions and provide protection better than chemical pesticides.
Mix pure neem with water and spray the mixture all over the infested plant parts. They will kill pest eggs and interrupt the pests’ reproductive cycle. Re-apply every few days for complete eradication.
Hydrogen peroxide mixed with water will treat the spider mites.
Dab rubbing alcohol on visible pests to kill them.
Preventing pest attack in snake plant
You can save your plant and yourself from the hustle by preventing the issue from setting in and suck the life out of your plant.
Please keep checking the plant regularly to control any infestation or other issues before it takes over.
Do not overwater and over-fertilize your snake plant and provide proper indirect light to the plant. Use insecticides as a preventive spray on the plant every month to keep the pests away from the plant.
Also, keep the plant in good airflow and keep the humidity level average around the snake plant to avoid pest issues.
Horticulture oils for treatment of scale infection
Horticulture oil is an eco-friendly and effective way to treat scale infection. It can be mixed with water to make it safe for the plant. These oils are combined with an emulsifying agent so that it can be easily mixed with water.
Horticulture oil suffocates the scales and disrupts eggs’ metabolism, which helps control and treats the scale infection. They should be used as directed and shouldn’t be overused as they can be bad for the plan too.
Spray the diluted oil on the scales directly for better results. The excess oil on the plant will evaporate rapidly. Keep applying the mixture every few days for complete control.
White mold on snake plant
White molds can be identified on snake plant leaves as reddish-brown, sunken lesions or white web-like growth, which seems unsightly and makes the plant look ugly.
Over time the plant will give up and can die. This condition is supported by unfavorable cultural conditions, pests attack, or improper care. These could be the reason for this fungal disease, which you might be unaware of.
Fungal spores from fluffy white stuff on the plant parts spread in the air and also through water sitting on leaves. This problem should be fixed soon as they are contagious and will become a threat to the plant’s health.
Preventing mold on snake plants
White molds are harmless but are an unsightly view of your beloved plants. Sometimes it can become problematic to your snake plants and can also attract more plant-related problems. With proper care, you can prevent white molds in the first place.
Provide proper light to your plant with the right amount of water. The excess water should be drenched completely to prevent water from sitting in the soil for long. This attracts pests and also leads to white mold.
The soil mix should be well-draining, pasteurized, and the plant should get a good airflow around them. Avoid misting around and on your snake plant.
Buy disease-free plants and scrub the pots with soap and water with a bleach solution and water to avoid any contamination. Keep checking your plants periodically for disease symptoms.
How to identify the cause of white spots in snake plants?
It is essential to know what signs are telling you that your plant is unwell.
Through the right knowledge, you can immediately know the issue and take quick action.
Following are the signs through which your plant is telling you that they need your support:
- Foul smell from the soil and roots, indicating root rot.
- Plants might develop tan brown lesions, which mean watering issues.
- Bushy and very dull plants, then pruning and lighting routines need to be looked after.
- Fertilizing is usually the issue when everything else seems right; still, your snake plant has white molds on it.
Preventing white spots in snake plant
Go through the following factors that need to be taken care of to prevent white molds on your snake plant.
Lighting is a significant factor that your snake plant needs to grow and to stay healthy, and maintain the perfect conditions they like. The light could be low, moderate, or high. Your snake plant flourishes in bright light but filtered light.
Snake plants don’t like to stay moist for long, and moistness can support fungal growth, white molds, etc. The proper sun will help the accumulated moisture to evaporate rapidly. That will prevent white mold on the plant.
Pests and fungal cannot easily attack the plant if the plant is in dry conditions and gets proper light.
Put the snake plant in a spot where it can receive full-day indirect sun. You can keep the plant near a window and use sheer curtains to filter the direct light. East and north-facing windows are an excellent option for your snake plant.
During winters, keep the snake plant away from the window as cold drafts can attract the pests and lead to fungal growth.
Also read: How much light do snake plant need?
Fertilizing the snake plant is a must because the soil might not be able to provide all the nutrients to the plant. The fertilizer will provide adequate supplements to the plant to boost its growth.
But sometimes, plant owners fertilize their snake plant too much to see fast growth. That affects soil quality and makes the plant vulnerable to pest, fungal, and bacterial growth, which lead to white molds.
Fertilize your snake plant during the growing season with a basic fertilizer, i.e., an organic all-purpose houseplant food, once every two months. Follow directions on the package to avoid an overdose.
This way, you can keep your snake plants healthy, prevent pest infestation, and fungal growth on your beloved plant.
You do not need to fertilize your snake plant during winter as it might harm the plant and even attract pests and support fungal growth.
Repotting your snake plant frequently is a big mistake. Frequent repotting has a bad impact on the roots of the plant. The rhizomes, along with leaves and roots, store water. If you keep repotting them again and again, they might end up getting weak and vulnerable.
Don’t rush on repotting your snake plant every year or two or whenever you feel something kosher. Give them time if you feel your plant is unwell, try other methods to render the issue.
Do not repot your snake plant in winters, as it is a resting period for the plant. Wait till you see roots coming out of the pot, which signals that the roots need more room to thrive and better airflow.
If you repot your snake plant, then make sure you are repotting in a pot one size bigger than the existing pot. Spray fungicide in the soil and roots to avoid any future contamination.
Also read: When should I repot my houseplant?
Snake plant’s leaves are thick and firm and are hardy plants overall. These plants usually do not get easily affected due to external factors.
But sometimes, the plants suffer due to prolonged ignorance, leading to brown leaves, yellow leaves, or curled leaves. This condition of leaves should be cured and pruned as it may attract pests and encourage fungal growth.
The roots may overgrow and will look awkward, and will affect plant growth as well. This condition also attracts pests and fungal growth.
Prune the damaged and dead leaves as soon as you see them on your snake plant. If the damage is less, you may snip off the dead parts of the tip. Make sure the leaves look good after pruning. If the leaves are severely damaged, then trim off the entire leaf at the soil line.
Use sharp, sterilized scissors when trimming leaves and roots, wear gloves as they can be poisonous and irritant for the skin.
Keep checking the plant leaves and roots every few weeks to prune overgrown parts timely and prevent pest infestation and fungal growth.
Water your snake plant as and when required rather than following any watering routine. If you overwater your snake plant, the excess water will accumulate in the soil, leaving it soggy.
This condition can lead to fungal growth and root rot, which can develop white molds on leaves.
The excess water then gets stored in the leaves, that burst as white spots. You need to be very careful when watering your snake plant as they do not like to stay moist, and when kept soggy, they can become vulnerable.
Water your plant thoroughly. The excess water should be entirely drained from the drainage holes within 2 minutes. Put a finger inside the soil up to a few inches to check soil moistness and water only when the soil is completely dry.
Remember to water minimally when the season is dormant as they are in a resting period and there is not enough light and heat, so the soil dries slowly.
Also read: Overwatering vs. Underwatering
Tips to keep snake plant thriving
- You can use any organic fungicide and insecticide on the plant every few weeks to prevent any fungal growth and pests attack.
- Water the snake when required, and check the soil every few days.
- The light should be moderate but should be given to the plant the whole day long for better growth.
- Repot the snake plant at least a five years gap.
- Do not mist the snake plant as it will keep the leaves moist, which snake plants do not like.
Source: The University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture, University of Minnesota, Snake plant profile.