Snake plant is one of the easiest succulents to grow, which is one of the reason why it is so popular both in US and Eurasia. When hundreds of thousands of people grow certain plant, however–which is the case with Snake Plant no doubt, at least some will experience issues. One of those issues–a rather mysterious one, are white spots on the leaves. Let me clarify something right at the binging: Many people confuse white spots with white leaves. If the entire leaves of your snake plant turn whitish, it is mostly due to over-exposure to extreme sunlight. White spots are a completely different matter though, and have nothing to do with sun.
Before we dive into details, let me briefly summarize the three main common reasons for white spots on a Snake Plant: Insect or fungi attack, impact of a wrongly chosen fertilizer or solution you applied on the leaves, mechanical damage. In my experience and also observing what other experienced growers have to say, one of the three is to blame for 90% of all cases when you spot strange white spots on the leaves of your snake plant. In some instances though something else is to blame, or the combination of different factors, since each plant is unique, and certain snake plant may react in this way to a form of stress other snake plants won’t react to. Anyway, let’s analyze the three main causes.
Insect or fungi attack as a no. 1 cause of white spots on snake plant
White spots that aren’t evenly spread, and appear more on some leaves and less on others, are typically a result of insect attack, or some fungal disease. We know many fungal diseases and insects that attack succulents (think powdery mildew, southern blight, spider mites to name just a few most common that can cause white spots on leaves). And while you can apply some solutions (home made or from the shop) trying to treat the problem (check how to treat powdery mildew for example), my advice in this case is the following:
Unless you have a special attachment to the plant, such as that you got it for your first lover, or as a gift to fifteenth birthday, or whatever, you should throw it away. Let me explain this: Even if you remove the apparently attacked leaves (those with white spots), you never know if there aren’t worms or eggs of the parasite in the soil, or hidden inside the plant. They can crawl out of their holes at anytime, and attack not only the remaining leaves of your snake plant, but also other succulents and plants located nearby.
You can be 100% sure that you got rid of the parasites or fungi only when you throw the entire plant away, including the soil, and disinfect the pot. If you have some attachment to the plant, however, remove all leaves on which you see some damage, and isolate the plant. You can also try to apply some home-made solution to the surface of the leaves, such as 50% vinegar and 50% water. As I said though this may not solve the problem, and since Snake Plant isn’t a rare or expensive succulent, your best bet is to just throw it away and prevent damage to other of your plants.
Wrongly chosen fertilizer or solution you apply on the leaves as no. 2 reason for white spots on the leaves of your snake plant
It may sound strange but most snake plants thrive in neglect. Regardless of big chemical producers say (obviously they have pockets deep enough to pay any advertisement), snake plants do not need any fertilizers. As long as you plant them is right soil (arid, with good aeration, ideally for succulents, or you can make your own soil mix at home), and in a pot with a drainage hole, they will be just fine.
Some people care too much though, or following the old school big-pharma advice, they fertilize the plant twice a year and even apply some chemical solutions on the leaves of snake plant. In my experience, this can cause burns on leaves, or a specific stress reaction in the plant–since it doesn’t like the chemicals you apply to it, and such a stress reaction can materialize in whitish spots on the leaves. Hence if you fertilized your plant recently or sprayed it with some chemical substance (following some “expert” advice), you have found your culprit for the white spots.
Luckily enough, the remedy is simple in this case. Just stop the practice that caused the issue, and repot the plant if you feel the fertilization was excessive and the acidity of the soil isn’t right anymore. You can also place it outside when it rains for half an hour, so the rain cleans the leaves from the residues of any chemicals you applied on them earlier.
Mechanical damage as no. 3 reason for strange white spots you see on the leaves of your snake plant
When you rule out the insects and chemical use, think about any possible mechanical damage to the plant. What can cause such spots on the leaves? For example a hailstorm. Sometimes you may even not notice hail falling from the skies, as these storms are often local and brief in duration. However, crystals of ice falling from the sky on the leaves of your plants can easily damage the tissues in the area of impact, which can later manifest in white spots, or even some tear on the leaves. In some cases, when strong wind carries some particles in it, such as sharp particles of dust, the impact can also result in white spots on the leaves.
Last but not least you should not forget on your beloved pet 🙂. I once saw a cat split-opening a leaf of a snake plant with a single move of the paw, so I know what these little creatures are capable of. Cats or other pets aren’t naturally attracted to snake plants. However, when they are inside and do not find other objects of interest (such as toys, balls of wool, etc), they may take interest in the snake plant, and damage it in some way. In certain cases this can result in white spots. If you have a cat (or another pet) at home, and it has access to the snake plant, you should not doubt consider this.
Also in this case the remedy is simple. If a hail storm is to blame, just remove the heavily damaged leaves. The plant will recuperate on its own. And if you suspect your cat, make sure that it always has some other object of interest nearby, and doesn’t need to play with the plants… Hope it helps, and good luck with addressing the issue!
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