African violets are easy to care for plants that can thrive well under favorable conditions. Though they are low-maintenance plants, they still require proper growing conditions.
Improper care and unfavorable conditions are the most common reasons for your African violets to have white spots.
So, in this article, we will discuss why does my African violet has white spots and how to fix the same.
White spots on African violets are formed due to pest infestation like mealybugs and aphids or fungal infections like powdery mildew. Apart from that, genetic mutation, sudden temperature changes, improper fertilization, and poor water quality can cause white spots in African violets.
It would be best never to neglect any white spots on the leaves of your African violets as it can significantly impact their health.
You can fix this problem by providing adequate water and proper indirect sunlight and keeping them from pests. This article will comprehend why your African violets have white spots and how we can recover them.
What causes white leaves in African violets?
African violets struggle with a lot of problems that can cause white spots on their leaves. Here are some causes:
- Pest infestation
- Fungal infections
- Genetic mutation
- Improper fertilization
- Too much direct sunlight
- Sudden change in temperature and light.
- Poor quality of water
Let’s discuss each problem in detail, along with their solutions.
Pest infestation on African violets
There are mainly five common pests that are responsible for creating white spots on the leaves.
- Cyclamen mite
- Root-knot nematode
These pests suck away all the nutrients from the plant’s leaves and stem. Mealybugs make the plant weak and eventually kill the entire plant. This pest produces a sticky substance called honeydew.
Honeydew encourages fungus growth in the plant, due to which the African violets lose their color and can change their leaf color to yellow or white.
How to get rid of Mealybugs?
- Remove all the visible mealybugs by using cotton balls and swabs.
- Mix a cup of isopropyl alcohol and a little dish soap. Then transfer the mixture to a spray bottle.
- Spray that mixture on the entire plant, including leaves, top, and stems, for two weeks.
- Spray neem oil on your African violets.
- Cut back all the affected leaves for the speedy recovery of your plant.
Cyclamen mite is a tiny pest that the naked eyes cannot see. It is one of the common pests on African violets. These pests mainly attack in warm and humid conditions. Cyclamen mites are considered to be very harmful to African violets.
They suck out all the cell content present in the leaves by piercing with their mouth and cause injury to the leaves. The foliage which this plant infects will become discolored, and the area will turn white.
Once they attack the plant, they spread very quickly, so it’s better to get rid of them as soon as possible.
How to get rid of Cyclamen mites?
- Prune the damaged leaves of the plants.
- Spray insecticidal soap to your African violets.
- Repeat this process continuously for at least three days.
There can be another reason why your plant’s leaves are turning white. This might be because of root-knot nematode.
It is a parasitic worm that attacks the roots of a plant. These are present in the soil and mostly thrive in hot weather conditions.
This parasitic worm takes away all the nutrients from the plant, because of which African violet’s leaves become yellow and cause stunted growth to them.
Like cyclamen mite, this worm is also very tiny, and you cannot see them with your naked eyes.
Once your African violets are attacked with this parasitic worm, you cannot cure them. It is best to replace your plant with the new one and make a fresh start.
Thrips are tiny bugs, and it is challenging to notice them in the plants. They also suck out sap from the plant and make them weak. Thrips suck the plant cells and create small white spots in the area where they feed, damaging a plant’s foliage.
The leaves of African violets become pale, weak, and twisted. Feeding on this plant can cause discoloration of leaves and also affect the growth of a plant.
How to get rid of Thrips?
- Prune the injured leaves of the African violets. Pruning your plant periodically will help keep the thrips away.
- You can use insecticidal soap or neem oil to get rid of these pests.
- Water your plant thoroughly and keep the surrounding region of your plant clean.
Aphids feed on plant juices. They suck out nutrients from the plant sap and weaken the plant.
Due to excess removal of sap, the leaves of African violets wilt and turn yellow or white. Aphids harm the health of a plant, making it unpleasant to look at.
How to get rid of Aphids?
- Spray water on your African violets to knock them out.
- You can use both natural and organic sprays like a mixture of water and soap, neem oil, etc.
- You can also buy lady beetles as they feed on aphids.
Fungal infections on African violets
Fungal infections that cause white spots on the leaves of the African violets are:-
- Powdery Mildew
If you notice any powdery substance on the surface of the leaves of your African violets, it is probably because of this fungal disease.
The infected parts of the leaves turn yellow or white, and African violets lose their green color from the foliage.
If the disease gets severe, it can also cause stunted growth. If your African violets are affected by powdery mildew, you should immediately take measures to eliminate them.
How to get rid of Powdery Mildew?
- Make a mixture by taking one tablespoon baking soda and one tablespoon of non-detergent soap and mix it with one gallon of water.
- Apply the spray on the infected areas of African violets.
- You can also get rid of Powdery mildew by spraying regular mouthwash to the plant.
- Remove all the dead and infected leaves or stems of African violets.
- Don’t fertilize your plant as it encourages them to grow more.
Ringspot is created by a fungus called Mycosphaerella brassicicola. They mostly thrive in cool weather conditions. If white spots are present on the leaves of the African violets, your plant might be suffering from a ringspot problem.
Ring spots develop when you add cold water to the foliage. If you add cold water to the leaves of your African violets, it damages them. This happens because the chloroplast gets injured due to cold water, and the foliage loses its green color.
Due to ringspot disease, leaves become distorted and also damage the appearance of African violets. You need to take care of your plant to prevent them from Ringspot.
How to get rid of Ringspot?
- While watering your African violets, make sure you don’t water the leaves.
- You can also use a self-watering pot. This will reduce the risk of getting water on the foliage.
- Make a mixture of micro-organisms, including bacteria, yeasts, and photosynthetic bacteria, and spray it to the entire plant.
- You can also apply a spray of dimethoate to reduce the Ring spots.
Fertilization is essential for your African violets. If you don’t provide an adequate amount of fertilizer, they will lack nutrients. Providing these plants with excess nutrients can also create a huge problem.
Therefore, you should always fertilize your African violets correctly, not more and not less. Some nutrients that your African violets require for resolving the problem of white leaves are Nitrogen, Magnesium, Copper, Iron, Manganese.
Nitrogen: If there is any nitrogen deficiency in African violets, the foliage fades away and becomes lighter in color, and the leaves start to turn yellow.
In extreme cases, when the plant becomes extremely weak, the foliage can even turn white. You need to use manures or seed meals to provide your African violets with enough nitrogen.
Magnesium: If you notice that the lower parts on the leaves of African violets are discolored, this might be because of Magnesium deficiency. Magnesium is needed for regulating the process of photosynthesis. You can add magnesium sulfate to the plant for recovery.
Iron: Iron helps in synthesizing the chlorophyll in plants. If African violets do not get enough iron, they will produce faded leaves because of the slow metabolism rate and less chlorophyll. Use an iron-based fertilizer to solve this issue.
Manganese: Manganese is required for photosynthesis, respiration, germination, and to fight against pathogens. If you come across white spots on the upper parts of the foliage in African violets, it may be because of Manganese deficiency. Provide your plant with manganese sulfate to solve this problem.
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Genetic mutation can naturally change the look or appearance of any plant’s leaves, flowers, or stems. Your African violets might experience some genetic changes, which can cause them white leaves in the new leaves.
White leaves are caused mainly because of less chlorophyll present in the plant. Without the green pigment, the plant’s foliage will stop appearing green. It happens if your African violets are not getting adequate light.
To solve this issue, provide your plant with enough light. Replant or replace your African violets in an area where they will be getting enough indirect sunlight.
After getting an adequate amount of indirect sunlight, this plant will start producing green foliage again.
Providing your African violets with direct sunlight can cause damage to them. Direct sunlight can be the reason for your African violets having white leaves.
African violets only thrive in indirect sunlight. If they are exposed to direct heat, it will harm the health of a plant. Heat hampers the plant’s growth and causes too much moisture loss from the leaves.
Due to moisture loss, the nutrients in the plant get reduced, which results in less chlorophyll in the plant and causes white patches on the leaves.
Excessive sunlight will not only turn the leaves white, but it can also burn them.
- Cut all the white and burnt leaves as these won’t recover.
- If your African violets are getting direct sunlight, you can use a cover to shade them.
- Move your plant to the area where it will be getting indirect sunlight only.
- Provide them with a proper watering schedule.
- Mulch the soil to keep the African violets moisturized for a more extended period.
Sudden change in temperature and light
If there’s a sudden change in temperature and light, the plant might change its leaf color, and this change is commonly known as a spontaneous mutation.
African violets can get shocked due to sudden changes, and the color of the leaves will start fading and turning white. This change is not at all harmful to your plants and does not cause any external damage.
To prevent this issue, provide your African violets with enough indirect sunlight and maintain the correct temperatures.
Poor quality of water
White leaves can occur due to the poor quality of water. If you notice any chalky leaves in your African violets, it might be because of poor water quality.
Providing tap water to your plant is often harmful to them. Tap water contains high concentrations of sodium and chloride, which can be very harmful to your African violets.
Tap water has other minerals, which include chlorine, fluorine, calcium, sulfur, etc. All these minerals will not allow your plant to absorb water and nutrients, due to which your African violets will develop white spots on the leaves.
You should avoid using tap water. As an alternative, you can use rainwater or distilled water.
How to get the white spots out from African violets?
- Add 2 tbsp of apple cider vinegar to water and spray on the infected leaves of your plant.
- Repeat this process for few days until the leaves recover.
- You can also wipe the leaves gently with a wet cloth to remove white spots.
How to prevent white leaves on the African violets?
If you don’t want any white spots on your African violet, you need to take care of them properly. There are various factors you need to remember while taking care of your plant.
African violets require bright indirect sunlight. Make sure you don’t provide them direct light as they are sensitive to it.
If you keep your African violets outside, place them in a shaded area where they will get enough indirect sunlight for at least 4 to 6 hours straight.
And if you are growing them in the garden, you can transplant them in a shaded location under a good covering of leaves which will also protect the African violets from direct sunlight.
In the case of indoor African violets, avoid sunny windows or any sunny areas of the room to protect your plant from direct light.
You can also provide artificial light to your plants inside the house. You need to make sure your plant is getting enough indirect sunlight but to a specific limit. Not more and not less.
A proper watering schedule is essential for keeping your African violets healthy. Both overwatering and underwatering can create a significant impact on your African violets.
African violets do not prefer sitting in water for a long time. If the soil remains soggy for too long, you allow the growth of various kinds of fungi that can cause root rot to your African violets.
On the other hand, if the soil gets less water, the plant will not get enough moisture and nutrients. Due to underwatering, African violets get weak and can even die.
In case of overwatering, always check the soil’s moisture level before watering the plants and provide them with at least 4 hours of indirect sunlight for recovering the damage.
And in case of underwatering, water your plant every other day and make sure while watering, you thoroughly soak the soil, and the excess water drains out.
You should always check the soil every few days to monitor when your plant needs to be watered.
Fertilizing your African violet is necessary, but too much fertilization can cause stunted growth and weaken the plant. Due to excessive fertilization, the roots of a plant burn, and the foliage becomes brown and dry.
Similarly, an inadequate amount of fertilizer can also create a massive problem for your African violets. So, there should be a proper balance of fertilization in your African violets for proper growth.
Provide fertilizer with an NPK ratio of 15:30:15 for maintaining a proper balance. Avoid fertilizing your plant during its dormant period.
Pruning is essential for your African violets as it encourages plants to grow healthy. It controls unwanted plant growth and increases the blooming rate.
Lack of pruning attracts various kinds of pests and causes yellow leaves.
Use a sterilized scissor to cut all the damaged leaves or stems to encourage new growth.
Don’t be disheartened if you notice white spots on your African violets. Growing any plant comes with problems. You must be prepared to deal with those problems and treat your African violets.
Check for pests or fungal diseases. Make sure to provide the ideal growing conditions.
African violets are likely to develop white spots if exposed to unfavorable conditions like direct sunlight, overwatering, temperature fluctuations, etc.
Therefore, provide the correct living conditions to prevent white spots on your African violets. Get rid of the leaves that have white spots.
Spray a neem oil solution once a month to keep the pests away and use fungicides to treat fungal diseases.
Source: Wikipedia, African violet: Classical breeding, African Violet Society of America, In vitro propagation of African violet, University of Florida, North Dakota State University, The University of Georgia.