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Plant Leaves Turning White – What’s Happening?

Plant Leaves Turning White – What’s Happening?

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Plant discoloration is a sign that your plants are struggling. If you are a plant owner, you have probably realized the changes plants go through if they aren’t taken care of.

Plants droop, and in most cases, the leaves change color. It’s crucial to understand the signs the plant shows and interpret them well to manage the situation.


Plant Leaves Turning White

There are certain situations where plant leaves turn white, often due to infestation by powdery mildew or sun scorch. It’s also possible for plant leaves to turn white if the leaves are long. This leggy growth weakens the plant’s stem, causing the plant to receive insufficient light, affecting normal growth.


Understanding the Reasons Why Plant Leaves Turn White

While sun scorch and powdery mildew are common causes of plant leaves turning white, they differ in treatment options and appearance.

It’s, however, best to take measures to prevent discoloration of plant leaves through good practices and maintenance for an improved garden outlook.

This condition is called chlorosis, and it means that the plant doesn’t produce enough chlorophyll to have green leaves. Chlorosis in plants results from compact roots, poor drainage, nutrient deficiency, and high alkalinity.

The plant in manufacturing food uses chlorophyll, so discoloration means that the plant is distressed. Various reasons can cause plant leaves to turn white.


Due to Powdery Mildew

Fungal diseases are among the top causes of discolored leaves in plants. Powdery mildew is a plant fungal disease identifiable by a white or powdery grey coating on leaves and stems.

The infection starts with a few spores on plant leaves, and the fungi spread quickly to cover the plant’s surface.

Powdery mildew causes plant leaves to wilt and drop.

This fungal infection is prevalent in overcrowded gardens with excess shading and low circulation of air. Powdery mildew is easy to spot and sometimes even to wipe off.

As much as it rarely affects the plant fatally, there isn’t any plant that’s immune to it.

Powdery mildew affects several garden plants like gooseberries, strawberries, and grapes; and vegetables like marrows, cucumbers, and zucchinis.

It is common in gardens and results in reduced quality and quantity of fruits and flowers. Powdery mildew is a problem for cereal farmers, and although it causes little harm, it leads to ultimate drooping and death of plants if ignored.

Some species of plants are so prone to this fungal infection that it’s almost impossible to avoid. In such situations, some gardeners accept that there will be a powdery mildew infection almost every year.

In very extreme cases, powdery mildew leads to leaf yellowing and falling off. It also causes stunted growth, weakens the plant, and distorts blooms, buds, and fruits.

Powdery mildew has a narrow range of hosts, which means that the fungus affecting peas in your garden is different from that attacking apples.


How to Control Powdery Mildew

The best way to control powdery mildew infection on your plants is through proactive prevention. Once the infection has taken root, it can be hard to get rid of it, so prevent it before the infection spreads to other plants.

Infected plants’ foliage should be removed and destroyed by burning or throwing in the trash. If you compost the infected plant, chances are you are spreading the fungi in the compost manure.

Once you have pruned infected plant parts, keep the pruning shears away from healthy plant leaves to prevent infection.


Low Light Conditions

Plants require enough natural sunlight to grow healthily. Subjecting plants to partial light or completely denying them light causes them to stretch out to get as much light as they can.

As such, the stems elongate to increase the chances for the plant to get adequate sunlight. If planted indoors, plants receive low light, causing them to have long, weak, and leggy stems.

The lack of chlorophyll turns the plant pale, causing leaves to discolor as well.

How can you solve this problem? Site plants where they receive adequate light hours per day.

If possible, get rid of shades and trim shrubs and trees which prevent light from reaching the plants.

If your plants are new, avoid using excess fertilizers as new growth is more prone to infection and over-fertilization hinders controlled growth.



It’s common for plant leaves to turn white, which is sometimes the only symptom of sunburn in plant leaves. When plants are exposed directly to the sun, they get sun scalded.

This is especially common for perennial plants during spring, summer, and fall seasons and annuals after transplanting.

When plants get sunburnt, their leaves discolor. The condition could be a result of denying the plant enough time to harden before transplanting.

When plants don’t get enough time to acclimate to the sun before being subjected to it permanently, they scald. Sun scalds in plants mostly appear as bleached-out spots scattered around the fruit or leaves.

The condition is treatable, but if prolonged without treatment, it leads to leaf drop.


Frequently Asked Questions about Plant Leaves Turning White


How do I know when my plants are infected by powdery mildew?

Plant fungal diseases are common, with powdery mildew being easiest to identify and one of the most widespread. It’s prevalent in vegetable gardens, ornamental shrubs and trees, rose gardens, and ideally, every other type of plant.


What can I do if my plant’s leaves turn white?

The best way to treat leaf discoloration in plants is by first understanding what the cause is. In cases of mildew formation, factors like moderate temperatures, dry foliage, low light, and high humidity cause leaf whitening. To alleviate this risk, take proactive steps like using disease-resistant plant species and allowing adequate air circulation to the plant.


Can powdery mildew be prevented before it occurs?

Fungal infections cause minor harm to leaves, such as discoloration, withering, and weakening of the plant causing sluggish growth. You can control powdery mildew and prevent it before it affects your garden by improving plants’ air flow with adequate spacing between them for improved air circulation. Remove infected foliage and disinfect pruners after using to maintain a healthy plant.



Plant leaves turn white for various reasons, but commonly due to sunscald and powdery mildew infection. To prevent this condition, plants should be sited in proper sunlight depending on their needs.

If you are dealing with new growth, be careful not to cause a blast of new foliage by over-fertilizing. If you suspect that your plants are infected, don’t panic yet as the fungus is host-specific.

As such, you can find it in a certain plant species, and it doesn’t have to be a threat to other plants in the landscape.