How to Get Rid of White Spots on Money Tree

The money tree is easy to care for and can thrive under various conditions without any problems. However, it can develop white spots on the leaves under some unfavorable conditions. But why do the leaves of your money tree turn white?

White spots on money trees are mainly caused by powdery mildew, watering using tap water, improper lighting, or pest infestation. Cut off the affected leaves and treat the plant using a fungicide such as propiconazole then provide proper care to get rid of the white spots on the plant’s leaves.

Below, I’ve elaborated further on the possible causes of the white dots on money trees, their signs, and the best ways to fix the problem and get rid of the white patches.

What causes white spots on money tree leaves?

White spots on money tree

Here are other possible causes that you need to look at to ensure you provide the best prevention and treatment to your money tree.

Powdery mildew

The common cause of white spots on money trees is a fungal infection known as powdery mildew. The disease grows on the debris of the tree’s perched areas, resulting in fungal spores. These fungal spores reach the leaves and attack the foliage to cause an infection. Infected leaves develop small visible white spots and a white powdery coating across the surface.

Powdery mildew blocks out sunlight from reaching the cells. The money tree leaves cannot thus get sufficient sunlight for photosynthesis, which leads to leaf discoloration or yellowing and browning of the leaves.

Other fungal infections

Apart from the Powdery Mildew, some fungi and viruses will cause white spots on the leaves of your money tree. They include;

  • The mosaic virus makes the leaves turn from green to white and yellow, usually with colorful spots. It forms on the young leaves and can spread quickly to the rest of the tree.
  • White root rot develops due to overwatering or too wet soil, causing the roots to rot. Root rot affects nutrient uptake to other parts of the money tree, leading to white spots.
  • Septoria leaf spot- This fungus thrives in humid and wet environments and causes white patches on the surface of the tree leaves.

Underwatering

Being a tropical plant, money trees require a wet environment and adequate watering. Careful watering is advised because excessive watering creates a soggy medium that can also cut off the oxygen supply to the rest of the plant. If you don’t drain excess water from the pot or change it regularly, you will see brown spots around the leaf tips.

On the other hand, underwatering your money tree can cause severe damage to the plant. The drought-like environment causes discoloration and withering of the leaves. As the money tree loses water, it becomes vulnerable to diseases, which manifest as white spots on the leaves. 

Poor water quality

Money trees require both excellent quantity and quality of water for proper growth. For instance, tap water leads to problems in a money tree because the minerals in tap water – such as calcium, sodium, and chlorine – accumulate in the soil. Excess salt increases the osmotic potential in the soil, pulling out the water from the tree’s tissues.

Poor water quality will make the money tree wilt, turn brown, and even die.

Improper fertilization

Fertilizers are a crucial element in the growth and sustenance of plants since they are a source of food for plants. Proper fertilizing feeds the money tree with essential nutrients and minerals necessary for healthy growth and foliage. 

The most vital micronutrients necessary for money tree include:

  • Iron- Helps in producing chlorophyll, crucial for photosynthesis. A deficiency of iron causes slowed metabolism, leading to white patches developing on the leaves.
  • Manganese- Important for germination and the food-making process and stabilizes the plant’s immunity. Lack of enough Manganese causes white spots on the leaves’ upper surface.
  • Copper- It is essential for respiration, metabolism, and photosynthesis. Copper deficiency increases the money tree’s susceptibility to diseases and spotty leaves. 
  • Calcium- Although vital, excessive calcium on the leaves could cause white patches. Too much calcium is usually caused by watering the money tree using tap water.

Poor ventilation

Money tree needs good ventilation with adequate sunlight and a temperature of about 50- 90°F. Sufficient ventilation is essential for balancing soil and atmospheric moisture. Placing money trees near cold drafts and air vents with too much heat will cause damage and discoloration to the leaves. 

The ventilation system should ensure that the plant receives adequate light, not too little and not in excess. Direct sunlight can lead to sunburn and scorching of the leaves, causing white spots.

Pests

Pest infestation is another cause of white spots in the money tree plant. Some of the common pests that affect the tree’s leaves include:

Mealybugs – These are tiny white insects that feed on the plant by sacking the sap from the leaves, leading to weakening, wilting, and whitening of the leaves of your money tree.  Mealybugs produce a sticky honeydew which leads to increased mold growth. They also cause leaves to drop, ultimately slowing the development of the whole plant.

Thrips – Similar to the Mealybugs, Thrips also suck sap from leaves. These insects cause damage to the leaves leading to discoloration,  pale spotting, and premature dropping of leaves. Tell-tale signs of a money tree infested by Thrips include damaged shoots, leaves, and visible spots on the leaves.

Leaf miners- Leaf miners include sawflies, flies, and moths. Working individually, these pests are harmless to money trees. However, they use the leaves’ surface to lay eggs that hatch into many moths. Damage by leaf miners can be severe on young leaves of the money tree.

Some pests can also make the leaves of money trees curl and appear deformed, especially if the infestation is severe.

How to get rid of white spots on money trees

A money tree with white spots requires optimal care to regain its outstanding foliage. Here are some ways to ensure the tree gets back healthy.

1. Water once a week in summer and twice a week in winter

Ensure your money tree receives enough water in every season. Water the plant once every week in summer and once every two weeks in winter. Avoid overwatering and drain the pot water to prevent oedema, pests, and insects. 

Also, do not water the plant using tap water unless you’ve left it in a container overnight. If possible, use rainwater or distilled water for your money trees.

2. Place your money tree in bright, indirect light

Place the money tree along the window facing the south to receive sufficient light. And since too much light is harmful, ensure the windows are covered with light curtains to filter excess light and avoid direct exposure. Overexposure to sunlight can cause sunburns and leaf discoloration. Ensure the tree is under a light shade in the garden or outdoors.

3. Apply a balanced fertilizer once a month

Dilute and apply a water-soluble balanced fertilizer to the houseplant. Use different quantities for various climate seasons.

For Spring and Summer, apply fertilizers monthly, while in winter, reduce the frequency to once every other month. Before and after fertilizing your money tree, water it to protect the under-developed roots from burning.

4. Spray the tree with neem oil, liquid soap, and water

Dip a swab in alcohol and use it to rub off visible pest-infested areas. You can also use a solution of dishwashing liquid, neem oil, and water to spray the plant. Neem oil is effective in treating pests and fungal infections. 

On larger infestations with older pests, spray the leaves with a solution of equal parts alcohol, water, mineral oil, and liquid soap, and repeat after every ten days for a month.

In addition, remove dead or diseased money tree leaves and keep the healthy ones dry.

5. Cut off the affected foliage

Pruning effectively fights plant diseases and spots as it involves removing dead parts. Cutting away money tree dead leaves or branches will enhance new and healthy growth and allow the plant to maintain a good shape. If you don’t prune the money tree in time, the leaves will develop discoloration issues and stunted growth, attracting pest and fungal infections. 

Use sterilized scissors to remove the dead parts regularly, including stems, branches, and leaves. Remember to be gentle and careful not to destroy the whole plant or the remaining parts. The rule of thumb is not to remove more than ⅓ of the leaves in one pruning session.

Repot in well-draining soil

Money trees require balanced and well-draining soil for healthy and robust growth. Dry soil causes cracks and death of the roots, and excessively wet soil also causes damages such as rotten roots. Use a mixture of ordinary potting soil, peat,  and river sand for the tree.

There are various reasons for the appearance of white spots on money tree leaves, and there are ways to discover, prevent and treat these white spots. It all depends on the causes and the severity of the damages.

References

Clemson Cooperative Extension. (2021). Houseplant Diseases and Disorders. The Royal Horticultural Society. (2021). Oedema.

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