White spots on palm leaves may indicate that your palm trees are being attacked by pests such as fungi and insects. The spots could also be harmless, as some palms secrete wax on their leaves.
It does not matter the cause of the spots, you need to know how to fix your palm trees so that they do not get sick. Read this article to learn how to identify the cause of white spots on your palm trees as well as how to fix the spots.
- Why Are There White Spots on Your Palm Leaves?
- How to Fix Your Palm Tree’s White Spot Problems
Why Are There White Spots on Your Palm Leaves?
There are white spots on your palm leaves because of the presence of fungi, sunburn, excess nutrients, scale insects and other pests and a host of other reasons. You have to be sure to diagnose the problem correctly before moving on to the remedies.
– Presence of Fungi
Fungi such as graphiola leaf spots cause black spots on your palm leaves initially. After a few days, the spots erupt and produce white filament through which they can spread to other leaves.
The white spots on your palm trees could indicate that the fungi are ready for reproduction. Another white fungus is powdery mildew and this one covers your palm tree leaves with white mold.
Most fungi attack plants that are weak, growing in the wrong conditions, or already dying. This means that white spots on your palm trees may be caused by fungi, but they surely have an underlying cause.
– Scale Insects and Other Pests
Scale insects regularly attack palm trees and they look like white spots, as they mostly stay anchored to a spot on the leaves.
Palm trees with a scale infestation will become weak and might die if the scales are many because these insects suck energy and nutrients off the plants. Other white insects that you should watch out for are whiteflies, aphids, and mealybugs.
Insects such as weevils lay their white eggs on your palms. The larvae of weevils are very disastrous to your palms, as they can destroy the leaves before they turn adults. You should also watch out for spider mites that cover themselves at the back of your leaves.
– Hard Water
What if the white spots on your palm fronds are just deposits of lime or chlorine? If you water your palms with mineral-rich water, they will absorb the water (with its components).
However, when the water is evaporating off the palm fronds through transpiration, the minerals remain on the leaves. These minerals on your palms look like dust and may gather to become white spots.
What is the pH of the water you use for your fronds? What is the water’s hardness? Remember that the higher the pH of the water, the higher its hardness. To know if the spots are mineral deposits or not, use a dry rag to wipe them off. Mineral deposits should go off easily, just like dust.
How exposed are your palm plants to the sun? While palm plants are tropical plants, they will appreciate shade, especially in the summer months when there is a heatwave.
Overexposure of palm trees to the sun can burn their leaves and this condition is known as sunburn. Sunburnt palms have curled fronds and white, yellow, or brown spots on their lead edges and tips.
If the white spots and curled fronds are only appearing in the summer months, you can tell that your palms have sunburn. You can also tell that it is sunburn if the spots only appear on the upper leaves that are more exposed to the sun than others.
– Lack of Nutrients
Your palm leaves turn pale, yellow, or white when you do not give them as many nutrients as they need. Palms need a lot of nitrogen and other nutrients to produce green and beautiful leaves. If they do not have enough nutrients, their leaves will get spots until the entire surface of the leaves turns pale.
When last did you feed the palms? What type of fertilizer do you use for your palms? The answer to these questions can tell you if your palms need nutrients or not. Nutrients that can cause white spots on your palms when they are missing are nitrogen, potassium, iron, magnesium, etc.
– High Humidity
High humidity is the underlying cause of white spots appearing on so many plants, including palm trees.
High humidity encourages the growth of fungi and other microbes, so if you are growing palms in a humid place, the palms have a higher chance of getting attacked by harmful microbes. These microbes will then be responsible for the white spots appearing on the palm fronds.
High humidity also has a direct effect on your palm fronds. In a humid place, plants find it more difficult to release water through their stomata in transpiration. The trapped water drops in their leaves will show as white, yellow, or pale-green spots. This condition is known as plant edema.
– Excess Nutrients
Do you know that excess nutrients can give your palm trees white spots? If you overfeed the trees, their fronds might burn up and you should see brown, yellow, or white spots on the leaves. The fronds might also curl and burn in the tips. All these things happen because your palms are collecting nutrients instead of water.
Another reason why excess nutrients can lead to white spots on your palm leaves is that organic nutrients attract fungi. If you feed your palms with a lot of undecomposed nutrients, fungi will come to decompose them. In the process, the fungi can harm your palms.
– Scurf on Pygmy Dates
If you are growing pygmy date palms, you may have nothing to worry about if you see white spots on their leaves. Pygmy date palms (Phoenix roebelenii) naturally secrete a waxy substance that hardens on their fronds. When the wax hardens, it usually becomes white and resembles a scale insect infestation on your palm fronds.
This secretion which is known as scurf is not harmful to the palms, so do not be afraid. If you want to confirm if the spots on your palm leaves are scurf or not, collect one and observe it with a lens. Scurf does not have legs and other appendages like pests do.
How to Fix Your Palm Tree’s White Spot Problems
To fix your palm tree’s white spot problems you can isolate and prune the affected palms, use fungicides, fix the nutrient deficiency, and maintain proper air circulation. Note that you should precisely diagnose the problem before embarking on a cure.
– Isolate or Prune the Affected Palms
Immediately after seeing white or pale spots on your palm trees, isolate the trees if they are growing on pots or prune off the leaves with the spots.
Remember that these spots may be scurf for pygmy palm trees, so you do not need to prune pygmy palms if they have natural spots. However, you want to keep your healthy palms safe by pruning the leaves of trees with infected spots.
After pruning the leaves of the sick palms, examine the spots or take the leaves to an expert to help you identify what caused the spots. Only dispose of the leaves after identifying the cause of the spots.
– Maintain Proper Air Circulation
Remember that palms and other plants suffer when you grow them in humid places. To help stop the spread of fungi from one leaf to another, increase air circulation and try to reduce the humidity around the palms.
The more arid the environment is, the less likely fungi and other microbes grow and spread from one leaf to another.
If you are growing potted plants indoors, you can help them by opening the window and installing a fan. As for outdoor palms, reduce the watering rate just in case you have been overwatering them.
– Use Fungicides
Just in case your palms are suffering from a fungal infection, you should head to a garden shop and buy a chemical fungicide.
These products will wipe out fungi from your palm trees and keep the trees safe from fungi for a very long time. They are also easy to use, you just need to make sure that you get the right product.
The right fungicide for you is one that is plant-safe. It is also one that is suitable for the fungi on your palms. For example, do not get a fungicide specifically made for powdery mildew and use it for a graphiola leaf spot problem.
– Make an Insecticidal Soap or Use Neem Oil
Are insects the white spots on your palm leaves? You can easily get rid of them with so many products. Insecticidal soap is a favorite of so many gardeners, as it is easy to make and also effective against a lot of palm pests. You can easily make this product by mixing soap and water.
Neem oil is the extract from the neem seed and it is very effective against pests. You can dilute it to half or quarter strength and it will still be effective. This product is great for getting rid of so many types of insects and invertebrates.
Just in case insecticidal soaps and neem oil are not as effective as the way you want them to be, go to a nearby garden shop and buy insecticides. Be sure that the insecticide that you buy is plant-safe so that you do not kill your palms while using the product.
– Fix the Nutrient Deficiency in Your Palms
You can easily fix the deficiency of nutrients in your palms. All you need is a foliar or water-soluble fertilizer. After diluting the fertilizer to your preferred strength, spray it directly on the palm leaves that look pale. You should see significant improvements in a few days.
You can quickly fix nutrient deficiency with the leaves of your palms, as palms and other plants can absorb nutrients from their leaves. Just make sure that the fertilizer you choose to use has readily-available and water-soluble nutrients.
Also, try to mist the leaves in the morning so that the nutrient solution does not stay on the fronds for a long time, as the sun can help to dry it up.
Your palms can now grow in good health, as you can prevent insects and other pests from attacking them.
Here are some reminders from this article:
- Remember that pygmy date palms produce scurf naturally, so do not bother when you see the scurf on their leaves.
- Scale insects and other types of pests attack palms, so always check your palms and protect them from pests.
- Fungi such as powdery mildew and graphiola leaf spot regularly attack your palms, so ensure that you protect the palms from them.
- Prune off the affected fronds from your palms so that the white spots do not spread to others.
- To get rid of fungi quickly, make use of chemical fungicides.
Now, you can grow areca palms, pygmy date palms, or any type of palm of your choice because you can grow them free from white spots.
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