The phalaenopsis is an example of an orchid that grows in the US hardiness zone of 10 and 11.
This plant is stunning to look at, but many things can come after it to harm its appearance and life. Problems such as white spots can become common in this plant if it is not taken care of properly.
White Spots on Orchid Leaves
The main cause of white spots on Orchid leaves is mealybugs. Though they don’t spread white spots as commonly as powdery mildew, they’re still harmful. You can’t easily spot them either as they’re extremely tiny. Use neem oil, soapy water, and insecticides to get rid of them.
Things to Know if Your Orchid Plant Has White Spots
The Appearance of the Enemy
Mealybugs have a very distinct appearance since they are tiny insects that can cause fuzzy white patches on the foliage of Orchids.
These pests are not easily spotted with the naked eye since they are usually one-fifth in size and have a whitish color.
Some mealybugs have long tails that resemble antennae’s, others have an immature crawler that looks similar to an antenna, but it’s a little smaller.
All these make the mealybugs even harder to spot.
The Other Signs Leading to Infestation
Many different reasons can cause white spots, but to know if you’re right, you must first inspect the plant.
Look at all the flowers, buds, and foliage for some evidence of feeding done by mealybugs.
The biggest sign would be the yellowing of the leaves, which eventually fall off and die, but other problems can also be seen after a while.
The most obvious sign is honeydew, which is a sticky material left behind by mealybugs once they’re done feeding.
This honeydew can attack fungus and more insects as time passes. The fungus growth leads to white spots.
The simplest way to get rid of mealybugs is by adding alcohol to a cotton swab and cleaning the leaves with it. If you do not want to rub the leaves with a cotton swab, then you can also use a toothbrush.
Do not use a rough toothbrush, and make sure you rub the folds on the leaves and all the hidden spots in the plant. Hard-to-reach spaces are the favorite spot for mealybugs to lay eggs.
Long Term Prevention Against White Spots on Orchid Leaves
In order to stop a large infestation of mealybugs in the future, you must start treating your Orchid plant. But, before anything else, repot your Orchid plant first.
This is because mealybugs may have even laid eggs in the soil, which can cause a second infestation. To use more natural prevention methods, rub the whole plant with insecticidal soap and horticultural oil.
You can also prevent mealybugs by treating the Orchid plant with synthetic insecticides. Some of these are specifically used for ornamental plants.
This is because these synthetic insecticides do not damage flowers and buds. However, use them only as the last resort for infestations.
Powdery mildew is another cause behind white spots. For powdery mildew, you can use some similar methods as well to remove this from your orchid leaves.
Keeping Orchid plants surrounded by plants that are resistant to powdery mildew can be a good idea. However, if your plant is infected with powdery mildew, then keep it isolated.
Pruning the plant parts that were infected earlier can also help prevent the spread of mealybugs and powdery mildew. This will also increase the air circulation around the plant, keeping humidity levels constant.
Wettable sulfur can also be used as a prevention method, but it should not be used as a cleaner for white spots. The wettable sulfur will be a good prevention method, but it can’t stop the spread once the plant is infected.
Apply the wettable sulfur after every ten days and put it on all the leaves.
Controlling the Spread of White Spots on Orchid Leaves
You can spray your plant with fungicides to kill off any mealybugs and powdery mildew present on it. Organic fungicides can also work wonders against mealybugs and powdery mildew.
Organic fungicides such as potassium bicarbonate are a good start for your plant’s care. These organic fungicides work better before white spots occur on the plant but can also be used later.
You can also create your own solutions at home to get rid of mealybugs and powdery mildew. One easy solution recipe is soapy water.
Take one tablespoon of dishwashing liquid and 2 cups of water. Spray this solution of the leaves to get rid of all the mealybugs and powdery mildew.
To create another solution, you should also mix a quarter of water with 1 teaspoon of baking soda. Then spray the whole solution on the plant, and it will kill off the fungus.
It is better to always focus on preventing the cause rather than trying to control it later on. Once your plant is infected with either mealybugs or powdery mildew, recovering them safely is not easy.
If your plant has been infected heavily, then it is better to cut off all the infected foliage, fruits, and stems. It is also best to throw away all pruned parts and keep them as far away from the original plant.
Frequently Asked Questions about White Spots on Orchid Leaves
Why did my Orchid plant get white spots on it?
Your Orchid plant may have been a victim of a mealybug attack, or a lack of care and attention can also cause white spots. This is because not observing your plant invites other fungus and bugs to attack it.
Does over-watering cause white spots on Orchid plants?
Over-watering is never the cause behind white spots on Orchid plants, but it can cause other problems that can eventually lead to white spots.
Marcel runs the place around here. He has a deep passion for houseplants & gardening and is constantly on the lookout for yet another special plant to add to his arsenal of houseplants, succulents & cacti.
Marcel is also the founder of Iseli International Commerce, a sole proprietorship company that publishes a variety of websites and online magazines.