White spots on basil leaves can be a worrying sight for many herb gardeners. The condition is enough to warrant an anxious check on the plant and its surroundings.
White dots on basil leaves are not ordinary occurrences and can be symptomatic of basil problems.
Today, our gardening experts will explore different causes for basil with white spots, as well as how to remedy these issues, so read on to find that all out.
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- Why Are Basil Leaves Turning White?
- How To Fix White Spots on Basil Leaves?
Why Are Basil Leaves Turning White?
Basil white spots can be attributed to a lot of reasons. So, before you become unnecessarily and overly concerned, we will explore the different possibilities of why your basil has white spots. Below, we’re listing the following reasons for basil plant white spots occurring:
– Natural Variegation
Sometimes, the reason for white patterns or markings on your basil leaves could be one of many basil diseases, but other times, the reason could be the variety of the plant itself.
Basil plants can sometimes come in variegated forms. If you have bought one and conveniently forgot about this, the white spots on your basil leaves could be due to variegation.
Variegation can be exacerbated when your plant is exposed to higher levels of sunlight. Thus, you will need to check if your basil plant has variegation tendencies. If you think that this is not the case, you will then need to explore other possibilities of why the white spots are there.
– Insects and Infestations
Several insects have been known to cause white spots on the beautiful basil green leaves and stems. Many insects can be easily seen, whereas some require more careful observation. Here are some insects that are common pests to the basil plant that can also be the reason behind the issue:
Aphids are one of the most prevalent pests in plants. They are small insects that suck the sap right out of the leaves with their sharp mouths. Young aphids show up as white and in clusters, whereas adult aphids come in a variety of colors, such as red, yellow, green, brown and black. In any case, you now know how to identify them and see if they are those white spots that appear on your basil leaves.
Mealybugs are identifiable by their soft white bodies that resemble tiny tufts of cotton. Also, they normally cluster on the undersides of the leaves and stems of the basil plant, sucking voraciously on the sap from the plant, and causing leaves and stems to curl up and fall off.
Mites leave white webs under basil leaves. These small insects live under the leaves and suck the sap from the leaves. A mild infestation of mites shows up as small white spots on basil leaves.
Thrips are small insects that are found on basil leaves and rarely on the stems. They are easily identifiable by their curved body shapes and semi-translucent white bodies. They hide and survive by using the leaves of the basil as covering to protect them from predators.
Whiteflies gather around the leaves of your basil plant and only fly off when they are disturbed. Despite their name, they are not true flies; whiteflies are soft-bodied insects closely related to aphids and mealybugs.
Moreover, those insects are usually found in clusters and are most active during the daytime. Whiteflies can suck the sap of the leaves, causing the leaves to yellow and fall off prematurely.
How To Fix White Spots on Basil Leaves?
Whether the causes of the white spots on basil leaves are due to insect infestation, fungal infections, or mildew presence, treating them can be quite easy. Here are some quick and effective remedies:
– Solutions to Insect Infestations
There are several ways to eliminate insect infestation, as well as prevent infestations in the first place. Here, we are listing some of the most popular and effective ones.
Ladybugs are natural predators to aphids, mealybugs, mites, thrips, and whiteflies, as well as other pests. Encouraging a large ladybug population in your garden can provide remarkable benefits, such as keeping pests away.
Ladybugs naturally go where their prey is in large numbers. You can also purchase ladybugs from physical and online commercial stores.
– Neem Oil
Neem oil can do amazing work on pests that ravage your basil plant. Neem oil is usually mixed with water and some dishwashing soap to create an emulsified solution that you can spray on your affected plants.
Do note, however, that the neem oil can cause the leaves of your basil plant to taste bitter. The bitter taste of the neem oil is also what makes the pests either leave or die due to the unappetizing flavor neem oil imparts. Neem oil is best sprayed early in the morning or late in the afternoon.
Basil leaves sprayed with neem oil may be edible, but it is not advised to consume them immediately. Allow the basil leaves a few days to have the neem oil washed off. Prior to use, wash off the basil leaves again.
– Insecticidal Soaps
Insecticidal soaps can provide a remarkable result in getting rid of pests in your plants. Made with potassium salts of fatty acids, insecticidal soaps do not harm the plants but are lethal to soft-bodied pests, such as aphids and mealybugs. Insecticidal soaps are best applied during the early morning or late afternoon.
Insecticidal soaps are non-toxic to humans and other large mammals, although it is recommended to wash treated leaves first.
Fungus is one of the biggest culprits in creating white spots on basil leaves. There are several types of fungal infections, which we will list down.
– White Fungus
White marks on basil leaves are often caused by white fungus. White fungus usually occurs when weather conditions are frequently wet and damp for a prolonged period of time.
When the white fungus is the cause of white spots on your basil leaves, remove the affected leaves immediately. Place the infected leaves where they cannot infect other plants. Then allow your infected plant to be exposed to more airflow and sunlight.
You may also choose to use baking soda and potassium bicarbonate as an anti-fungal spray, or you may purchase commercially available fungicides. Follow the directions on the package, and refrain from consuming sprayed leaves as a precaution.
– Powdery Mildew
Powdery mildew can also cause white spots to form on your basil leaves due to high moisture content in the hot or cold air. A very popular treatment for powdery mildew is to use neem oil solution sprays. Insecticidal soaps also provide strong protection for basil plants against powdery mildew.
– Other Basil Diseases and Issues That Are Equally Concerning
While the following do not always cause white spots in basil leaves, they can also be as lethal to your plants. Here are some basil plant diseases and issues you need to be aware of:
You can discourage the presence of slugs by introducing their natural predators to your garden. Animals, such as chickens, ducks, and toads, find slugs quite appetizing and will make quick work of them.
A popular method is to use a deep dish half-filled with beer. The yeast in the beer will attract the slugs and make them fall into the deep dish and drown.
You can also prevent slugs from sliding up your property by placing crushed eggshells or wrapping copper wire around your plants.
– Fusarium Wilt
Fusarium wilt is caused by fungal spores carried in the dirt or by the seeds from an infected plant. Fusarium wilt causes underdeveloped growth, yellow drooping leaves, brown streaks or spots in the plant stalks, and twisted stalks.
There is no remedy for fusarium wilt. You will have to destroy the infected plant. Some gardeners advise soaking the entire plant with a fungicide, allowing the spray to drip into the soil as well. You should use this approach with extreme caution for safety purposes.
– Root Rot
Root rot is often caused by prolonged periods of frequent overwatering. Sometimes, root rot can also be caused by fungal spores in the soil, which are activated from overwatering. Root rot causes the plant to perish.
You can prevent root rot by making sure your basil is planted in well-draining soil. Allow the soil to dry off slightly before watering.
– Bacterial Leafspot
Brown and black spots caused by the Pseudomonas cichorii bacteria can manifest in the leaves and stalks of your basil plant. There is no actual cure, but you can mitigate the damage by ensuring enough airflow between plants. Watering the soil is recommended instead of watering the leaves of the plant.
– Nitrogen Deficiency
Nitrogen deficiency causes basil plants to grow small and unhealthy. You can remedy this by ensuring that your basil plant receives an adequate amount of nitrogen through organic or inorganic fertilizers and soil supplements.
You can have your soil tested for certain deficiencies and amend the soil by treating it with the correct formulations to correct any imbalances.
How To Prevent White Spots on Basil Leaves?
Now that we have identified the possible causes of white spots on basil leaves, we will also list the various methods of keeping basil plants healthy. Here are some failsafe techniques to having a happy and healthy basil plant:
Provide your basil plants with their required amount of sunlight. Basil plants prefer 6 to 8 hours of sunlight a day to remain healthy.
Basil plants prefer to have good airflow to keep any kinds of pests and infections at bay.
The right amount of watering at the right schedule can impact your basil plant positively. Make sure your water is just enough to encourage growth and discourage fungal infestations.
– Use Pesticides When Necessary
Sometimes, no matter how hard we try, pests just find their way into our gardens. Use insecticides with care, whether they are homemade organic ones or commercial versions.
Are Basil leaves with white spots still edible?
Yes, Basil leaves with white spots are still edible, but it’s best to remove the affected areas.
Are the white spots on my Basil indicative of a Bacterial infection?
The white spots on your Basil could indicate a bacterial infection, so it’s best to remove the affected areas and monitor for further signs of infection.
White spots on basil leaves may be inevitable, but it doesn’t mean they are incurable. Let’s go over what we’ve learned so far on identifying the causes of white spots on basil leaves and how to remedy them
- White spots on basil leaves can be caused by insect infestations, such as aphids, mealybugs, mites, thrips, and whiteflies. Ladybugs, neem oil solutions, and insecticidal soaps are some of the best remedies for these pests
- On a basil plant, white spots can be caused by fungal infections. Fungicides can prevent the spread of the infestation
- Lastly, you can keep your basil healthy by giving your plant abundant access to sunlight and air while maintaining the correct watering amount and frequency
There you have it—the different reasons why your basil plants have white spots on them and how you can take control of the situation. Always remember to use insecticides and fungicides with caution, and soon you will have beautifully healthy basil plants to harvest and enjoy!