White spots on jade plant leaves and stems are always disheartening for any plant owner. That’s because they immediately mess up the look of your beautiful plant.
The good news is diagnosing the cause and fixing the problem is often easy.
Why are there white spots on your jade plant leaves? The most common reason why jade plants have white spots is powdery mildew.
Using water with high salt content also causes white spots to happen. This includes hard water and highly mineralized tap water.
Finally, pests and edema can likewise be the reason.
Below, I’ll take you through each of these causes and discuss why they cause white spot. More importantly, I’ll explain how to solve each of the issues.
Why are there White Spots on Jade Plants?
Powdery Mildew Causes White Spots on Jade Plants
Powdery Mildew is the most common cause of white spots on jade plant.
If you’ve been gardening for a while, you’re probably familiar with it.
This white powder-like substance that grows on leaves looks very unique. And it is a type of fungus that’s considered as white mold.
Powdery mildew starts out as small white spots on foliage.
But if not treated, it will keep spreading and getting bigger.
As such, you’ll see the white spots turn into white patches. These can eventually cover entire leaves if you do not intervene.
You’ll likewise see more and more leaves get afflicted the more you allow the mold the spread.
And it will eventually reach the other parts of the plant.
Although, powdery mildew looks a bit different in the leaves than in does in other areas of the plant. White this fungus appears as spots then batches of spots on foliage, they look like fluffy strings once it reaches different parts of your jade plant.
Powdery mildew grows in damp conditions. As such, excess moisture is what usually allows it to develop and spread.
Low light and cold temperature likewise help as they prevent wet areas from drying faster.
Similarly high humidity also increases the risk of fungal infections like powdery mildew by keeping moisture in the air high.
Thus, try to avoid keeping your jade plant anywhere cool, with low ventilation and extra moisture.
If you notice white spots on your jade plant that resemble powdery mildew, immediately isolate the plant from your other houseplants.
This will prevent it from spreading.
Powdery mildew is notorious for quickly infecting nearby plants because it spreads via lightweight spores.
As such, a gust of wind from the window or a slow breeze from an electric fan is enough to carry some spores from the infected plant to nearby houseplants.
This will likewise infect them.
Similarly, do not mist the plant, as spraying moisture will help the spores get airborne.
Because standing moisture or damp conditions is what allows powdery mildew to thrive, the goal is to move your affected jade plant to a better location.
Ideally, choose a spot where there is good lighting. Bright, indirect light helps any wet areas dry faster.
Similarly, choose somewhere with good air circulation. Ventilation will help the soil dry and leaves dry faster.
Avoid cold or cool temperatures. Instead look for warmer spots in your home.
By keeping the plant’s environment fairly dry, you’ll prevent the powdery mildew from spreading.
If you don’t want to wait for the plant to heal itself, you can give it a hand.
To do so, mix a combination of:
- 1 tablespoon of baking soda
- ½ teaspoon of liquid soap
- 1 gallon of water
Shake well to mix in a spray bottle. Then spray the solution on the leaves.
Make sure you don’t over wet the leaves.
Instead, the solution should dry within a few hours.
You can likewise go with a combination of baking soda and vinegar. Then spray the solution on the leaves with white spots.
Avoid watering from overhead as this will wet the leaves and leave water spots.
Instead, water directly onto the soil when you hydrate the plant.
Too Much Salt Buildup Can Cause White Spots on Jade Plants
White spots on jade plant can also be caused by too much salt content in the water you use.
This often happens if you’re using hard water or highly mineralized tap water.
You can also see this phenomena occur when you over fertilize your plant. That’s because in addition to nutrients, fertilizer contains salt.
Why does this happen?
White spots on jade plant leaves occur because the plant is a succulent.
Therefore, like other succulents, jade plants store moisture in their leaves. This is why they have thick, fleshy leaves.
Storing moisture allows the plant to get through drought and dry environments which is where they are native to.
As such, if you water your jade plant using tap water that happens to have a high salt content, its leaves will store a lot of salt along with the moisture.
Once the leaves start losing moisture due to transpiration, what you’re left with are the salt particles.
Thus, you’ll seeing the salt reside. And they’ll appear as white spots on the leaves of your jade plant.
How many white spots you see will vary depending on the salt content of the water you use.
If you notice white spots on your jade plant’s leaves and have tried eliminated all the other causes, consider checking you tap water.
Hard water or highly mineralized water will cause this issue, along with other problems later on.
Basically, these types of water contain excess amounts of salt, chlorine, fluoride and other minerals. Many of which the plant does not appreciate.
Since the roots absorb nutrients through water, the salt in the water is likewise taken in by the plant.
This is what causes the white spots on leaves to appear.
It is important to fix this issue otherwise, the problem will keep repeating itself once the salt deposits build up.
The best option here is to switch from hard water or highly mineralized water to other sources that do not contain high amounts of salts.
This is also the reason why you do not want to use beach, sea or ocean water. And why most plants do not grow near beaches.
So, what are your options?
Soft water, distilled water, filtered water or rainwater are good choices.
I don’t recommend distilled water since it will get expensive over time. You can set up a faucet filter to remove the impurities from your tap.
If it rains regularly in your area, you can collect rainwater in a rain barrel and use that to water your plants as well.
A common option is to collect the tap water. Then let it sit overnight.
Doing so will allow the excess minerals, salts and chemicals to evaporate by morning. This makes is safe to use on your jade plant.
What about the existing white spots on the jade plant?
These are much easier to get rid of.
Just take a slightly moist cloth then gently wipe the leaves. The white dots should go away since they are salt deposits that have come to the surface of the leaves.
Note that the white spots will eventually reemerge over time if you keep using hard or highly mineralized water.
On the other hand, if most of the white spots stay on the leaves when you wipe them, you’re likely not looking as excess salt deposit buildup.
Instead, if you’re seeing fluffy white spots, it may be powdery mildew instead.
Pests are another reason why you may notice white spots on jade plant leaves.
Here, there are two possibilities.
One is when you see tiny white spots that are actually the bugs themselves. This is especially true for mealybugs, scale insects and some spider mites.
Because these insects are very miniscule in size, spotting them on a singular basis is rare, unless you regularly check the plant using a magnifying glass.
However, there are instances where you’ll see these bugs in a bunch or grouped together.
This makes them easier to spot.
Another reason why your jade plant has white spots is chlorosis.
Chlorosis is an issue where the plant does not produce enough chlorophyll. This can be due to a variety of reasons including lack of sunlight or pest infestations.
Since chlorophyll is what gives a plant’s leaves their green color, the lack of it causes pale, yellow or even whitish leaves.
In short, the leaves will lose their natural color.
How light they leaves get will depend on how deficient the plant is of chlorophyl.
Since jade plants attract sap suckers like mealybugs, spider mites and scale, these pests rob it of moisture and nutrients.
As a result, the leaves do not get enough moisture and nutrients to stay healthy.
Unfortunately, houseplants are not immune to pests.
In most cases, these bugs will hitch a ride with the plant. One common instance is when you first take the plant home from the store or nursery.
Since there are lots of people that pass and look at the plant and all the houseplants are grouped together, pests can easily get to the jade plant.
Another common occurrence is if you take the plant outside during the summer.
Pests in the yard normally will hitch a ride with the plant back into your home when you bring your jade plant indoors for the winter.
As such, it is very important to always debug your jade plant before taking it into your home.
This ensures that the plant does not have any pests or insects on it.
Not only does this prevent white spots on its leaves from developing, it also lets you avoid the troubles that come with pest infestations.
With jade plants, mealybugs, spider mites and some scale insects can look like white spots on leaves.
Mealybugs are white, cotton-like tiny creatures that look like flat, white bugs on the leaves and crannies of your jade plant.
Spider mites usually begin by looking like tiny white spots as well.
But if you have a magnifying glass, you’ll notice that these pests look like miniature spiders with several legs on each side of their torso.
After a while, you’ll see seeing webbings develop in your jade plant.
This is a sure sign that there are spider mites attacking your plant.
Some scale insects also look like white spots on jade plant leaves because they have silver bodies.
The important thing here is that if you see any pests present, no matter how few they are, it is important to immediate start treatment.
These bugs will reproduced fairly quickly. By then, it becomes more difficult to eliminate them.
Depending on the type of pest you get, the treatment will vary.
In most cases, I like to start by spraying the bugs off using as water hose or a shower head.
This will dislodge the pests and get rid of most of them.
You can repeat the process every 4 or so days until all the insects are gone.
You can likewise use a mixture of rubbing alcohol with water. This solution will get rid of the bugs. But it needs to come into contact with the pests themselves.
Another option is neem oil, which is a popular pest solution for plants.
You can spray a neem oil solution on the affected areas every 3-5 days until all the insects are gone.
Keep in mind that to eradicate pests, you need to get rid of all the adults, larvae and eggs. If any one of them is left, the cycle will start over in a span of days or a week.
If you see bumpy or elevated white spots on your jade plant, it may very well be edema.
Edema is swelling or bloating.
And it can happen to jade plant leaves when the roots absorb more water than the plant normally uses up and loses through transpiration.
As a result, you don’t only end up with puffy, fully leaves that store lots of water, you’ll also see uneven, bumps on the leaves.
Some consider these bumps blisters while others call them warts and different things.
The point it, the white spots are actually small lumps that are caused by excess water. But they are unevenly distributed around the leaves and come in different shapes and sizes.
So, there is no uniformity to them.
This makes your lovely jade plant look unsightly.
The problem is that if you do not adjust your watering schedule, you’ll see more and more edema appear.
And after a while, when the plant’s tissues cannot stretch anymore, you’ll see some of these will burst leaving the leaves with permanent damage.
The good news is that it is very easy to fix edema. The key is not to let it last too long.
An overwatered jade plant will experience more serious problems if the overwatered environment persists.
By then, you’ll be busy trying to fix the more serious issues besides edema.
That said, when it comes to edema, the best solution is to reduce water. Allowing the excess moisture to drain and the soil to dry will fix the problem.
The downside is that edema scars are permanent. So, even after you fix the edema and excess moisture, the blisters won’t go away.
Thus, you have a few options here,
The most common fix is to prune the leaves to encourage new growth.
Since the excess watering issue has been remedied, the new leaves should not have any blisters.
Some plant owners will just leave the leaves with the blisters there.
Because of the permanent aesthetic damage caused by edema, the ideal solution is to avoid it altogether.
To do so, make sure not to overwater your jade plant.
Instead, allow the soil to dry between waterings.
Also, use well-draining succulent soil. This prevents the soil mix from retaining too much moisture.
Ensure that that pot you use has drainage holes at the bottom to allow excess moisture to drip out.
Similarly, choose a good location. Ideally, find a spot with plenty of light, warm temperature and good air circulation.
Together, these factors will help the soil dry faster as well to avoid standing water.