White spots on plumeria leaves mean that your plants may be infected by fungi and other microbes.

White Spots on Plumeria Leaves

The spots could also mean that your plumeria plants are growing in bad environmental conditions. It does not matter the cause; you can fix your plants. Read this article to find out how.

Why Are There White Spots on Your Plumeria Leaves?

There are white spots of your plumeria leaves because of a host of reasons. They can be under attack from fungus, get too much sunlight or even suffer from nutrient deficiency. Use the information presented to accurately diagnose the problem.

– Fungal Attack

The first thing that you should watch out for when you see white spots on your plumeria leaves is a fungal infection. Fungi such as powdery mildew and sooty mold frequently attack plumerias, especially those growing in poor conditions. For example, powdery mildew frequently attacks plants that grow in places with high levels of humidity.

Powdery mildew starts by covering the underside of your plumeria leaves with mold before spreading to the top. The fungus also makes spots on the upper part of your plant’s leaves. Fungi come in different forms and colors, but their mold is mostly white, pale, or tan.

– Plant Edema

You know that high humidity attracts fungi. Another harmful effect of high humidity is plant edema. This occurs when the humidity is too high and your plumeria leaves cannot release water droplets trapped in them through transpiration. You will see the little droplets of water stuck in the leaves and they appear as white, pale-green, or yellow spots.

Plant edema is dangerous, as the cells in the leaves can burst and this can lead to a bacterial attack. Plant edema also makes your plumeria plants very unattractive to look at, as it usually affects the upper leaves.

– Too Much Sunlight

When your plumeria plants are exposed to more sunlight than they require, they start to curl up and burn. They also have pale spots around their edges and tips. Too much sunlight can cause sunburn or sunscald on your plumeria leaves, so you want to check that the plants are growing at the right spot.

How many hours of sunlight do your plumeria plants receive daily? How do you protect the plumerias from the hot summer sun? The answer to these questions can tell you if you need to shift your plumeria plants away from the sun or not.

– Not Enough Light

Even though too much sunlight can cause sunburn and pale leaves in your plumeria plants, a lack of light can get a similar result. Every plant needs sunlight to produce energy through the process of photosynthesis. What happens when the plumerias do not get enough sun is that their leaves turn pale, as photosynthesis also gives them their green leaves.

If you notice that your plumerias, especially the young ones are etiolated and have large pale spots on their leaves, you should check how much sunlight they receive daily, as they may not be getting enough.

Why Are There White Spots on Your Plumeria Leaves

– Sudden Temperature Change

Stress is a major factor that affects the appearance and health of your plants. A sudden change in temperature stresses your plumeria plants so much that their leaves can turn pale or even fall off. This is why you want to select the right spot for the plants.

Are you growing your plumeria plants near an appliance? Are your potted plants in a spot where the wind can disturb them often? Put these into consideration when finding the cause of white spots on the plumeria leaves. Also, note that growing your plumeria plants in the wrong conditions can lead to stunted growth or even death.

– Insects and Other Visible Pests

Some pests such as spider mites, aphids, whiteflies, and thrips attack plumeria plants and they can be deadly to the plants.

Spider mites may be red, but they hide inside white silk. Other pests are white, so they all appear as white spots. As for weevils, they lay white eggs on your plumerias and their larvae can be very disastrous.

You should note that the presence of one pest on your plumeria can indicate that there is so much more. Also, note that not every pest will leave bite marks on your plants, as some pests are suckers and not biters. 

– Bacterial Attacks

Bacteria are microbes that you should watch out for. These microbes can cause white, yellow, pale green, or even black spots on your plumeria leaves.

The bacterial leaf spot starts as yellow or white spots before they become brown or black. These bacteria are usually soil-borne, so you should check your substrate.

Have you previously grown a sick plant with that substrate? Did you recently prune your plumeria leaves? Remember that bacteria are looking for exposed plants, so try to remember if you have ever exposed your plumerias to any microbial attack. You should also check for viruses.

– Overfertilization

When you give your plumeria plants more nutrients than they need, you can attract pests such as the powdery mildew fungi. Nutrients, especially nitrogen, are essential for fungal and bacterial growth, so they attract microbes.

This is true, especially for organic nutrients that are yet to be decomposed. This means that you should check what you feed your plumeria plants with if you see spots.

When last did you feed the plants with organic nutrients? If you are using rotted manure, did you wait until it is truly rotted before using it? You need to put these into consideration before you can tell if your plumeria plants are overfed or not.

– Not Enough Nutrients

Too many nutrients, especially nitrogen can attract fungi to your plumeria plants. Well, too little nutrients can also get a similar result, as plants need nutrients to produce fresh and green leaves. Nutrients such as nitrogen and iron can cause your plumeria plant’s leaves to turn pale because plants use these nutrients to produce chlorophyll.

What are the components of the fertilizer you use for your plants? Are nutrients in your fertilizer readily available? If you do not give your plants the right nutrients at the right time, they may get pale spots on their leaves.

– Accumulation of Dust

What if the spots are just accumulated dust and you should not be worried too much? To know if the white spots are dust or not, use a rag to wipe the leaves.

If the leaves get cleaned easily and the spots do not return in the next few days, you have nothing to worry about. Dust and minerals are not harmful to your plants.

Well, dust-like minerals are harmful if they were present in the water. Are you watering your plumeria plants with hard water? If so, use only dechlorinated water for the plants so that you do not expose the plants to too many minerals in hard water.


How Do You Fix the White Spots on Your Plumeria Leaves?

You can fix the white spots on your plumeria leaves using some of these methods – pruning the affected leaves, making use of fungicides, using insecticides and giving your plants enough sunlight. First make sure to diagnose correctly and then go on to treatment.

– Prune the Affected Plumeria Leaves

The first thing that you should do as soon as you see white spots on your plumeria plants is to isolate the plants.

Isolation is only possible for potted plants, so you can opt to prune off the branches or leaves with white spots. Instead of disposing of the plumeria cuttings, keep them far away from the healthy plants and carefully examine them.

You should examine the spots and make use of the tips above to know the exact cause of spots on the plumeria plant. Please remember to clean and disinfect your pruning shears after pruning the sick plant just in case.

Fix the White Spots on Your Plumeria Leaves

– Make Use of Fungicides

If you have a fungi problem in a lot of your plumeria plants, you should make use of fungicides. Fungicides are products that you can use to inhibit or control powdery mildew and the population of other types of fungi.

Fungicides will surely work so long as you know the exact fungi attacking your plants. You can take samples to an extension office or experienced garden to help you identify the disease.

Please follow the instructions in the product so that you can effectively kill the fungi as well as keep your plumeria plants safe. Also, buy the fungicide from a gardening store so that you can be sure that it is plumeria-safe.

– Make a Baking Soda Solution

Just in case fungicides are too expensive and you need a cheaper alternative, you can make use of a baking soda solution.

Baking soda solution helps to prevent powdery mildew and other types of fungi, as its active ingredient (sodium bicarbonate) is effective in fighting fungi. It is a cheap product that you may already have at home. All you need to do is to mix the powder with water.

If you have recently-pruned plants, you can make a paste with the baking soda and rub it on the fresh cuts of the plants. Well, you should spray the affected and healthy plants with the baking soda solution so that the growth of fungi can be inhibited.

– Maintain Proper Air Circulation

Air circulation is important in the fight against fungi and other microbes because most microbes thrive in humid places.

Your plants have white spots mostly because of high humidity, so you want to grow the plants in a place with good ventilation and air circulation. Plumeria plants growing outside do not have a high humidity problem, so focus on the ones growing inside.

Install a fan in the room if the room feels stuffy. Also, only water the plants when you are sure that they need water, as overwatering can lead to a high rate of evaporation. Remember that evaporation increases humidity.

– Use Insecticides

If your plumeria plants have white spots because of pests, go to a gardening store and buy an effective insecticide.

Insecticides are the best products to use if you have a pest problem because they kill insects and other pests immediately and keep your plants safe for a very long time. Insecticides are guaranteed to work, so long as you know the exact pest attacking your plants.

Remember that most insecticides are chemical-based. This means that you should carefully follow their instructions so that you do not harm your plants. Also, if your wish is to have an organic garden, you should look for organic alternatives.

– Make and Use Homemade Repellents

Just in case you need cheaper or organic alternatives to chemical insecticides for your pest problem, you can make use of neem oil or insecticidal soap. Neem oil is an organic alternative that is also effective in repelling pests off your plumeria plants. However, note that its effect wears off quickly when compared to insecticides.

If you are looking for a very cheap product to rid your plumeria plants of pests, you can use insecticidal soap. “Insecticidal soap” is just a fancy term for soapy water. You can make this by mixing any cheap soap of your choice with water. Spray your plumeria leaves with it whenever you see pests.

– Properly Feed Your Plumeria Plants

If your plumeria plants have white spots due to nutrient problems, you want to give them as many nutrients as they need.

Remember that giving them too many organic nutrients can lead to a fungal attack. For plumeria plants, you can use balanced fertilizer or one slightly rich in phosphorus, especially when the plants are in bloom.

If you want to use organic nutrients such as rotted manure for your plumerias, wait for at least two weeks until they have decomposed before you feed your plants with them.

– Give Your Plants Enough Sunlight

If your plumerias are pale or white because of their light exposure, shift their pots to a better place or remove the shade for your plants growing in the ground. Plumeria plants should get around seven hours of daily sun.

If there is a heatwave in summer, you can temporarily use shade cloth to protect the plants from the sun. However, remove the cloth as soon as summer is over.

– Amend the Potting Mix or Soil

Just in case you have grown sick plants in a pot before, do not grow other plants in that same pot or substrate without first fixing the substrate.

Get rid of White Spots on Plumeria Leaves

One cheap and effective way to get rid of pests (visible or microbial) in substrates is to bake the substrate in an oven or stove. No matter what you do, just make sure that your new plants will grow in a disinfected potting mix.


Now you know why your plants have white spots and how you can help them.

Remember the following:

  • The first thing that should come to your mind if you see white spots on your plumeria leaves is a fungal attack.
  • Asides from the risk of fungal attack, growing your plumerias in high humidity also makes them prone to plant edema.
  • Other growing conditions that you should watch out for are light, nutrients, and water, as these factors can stress your plants when they are not right.
  • Immediately after you see white spots on your plumeria plants, prune the affected leaves and ensure that you isolate the plant if possible.
  • Just in case your plumeria plant is not responding to treatment, dispose of it so that it does not transmit the disease to other plants.

Go check your plumeria plants right away and make sure that they are hardy and healthy.

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