What are the white dots on plants and should I be concerned? Over the years I have received many questions from people wondering why they have white spots on the underside of Pilea Peperomioides leaves, and how to get rid of them. Are you facing the same problem with your Pilea? then continue to read below.
When you first discover that your captivating Pilea Peperomioides has strange small white spots under the leaves, the immediate reaction for many is to freak out ever so slightly and grab the phone to dial 911 pest control. We are used to dealing with pests on our indoor plants, that it’s easy to imagine that this is the case for our Pileas as well.
There definitely are cases where you will have problems with bugs that have decided to make your Pilea their new home but in most cases white dots on Pilea Peperomioides a common biological reaction for the plant. It’s also worth noting that this is not a problem that is unique to Pilea – it’s also often seen on succulents.
Why does my Chinese money plant have white spots?
The most likely reason why you are seeing white dots on the leaves has to do with mineral deposits, and this is completely normal. If you’ve been looking around online you’ll notice that many other people are experiencing the same. But why does it occur in the first place?
Mineral deposits on a plant leaf can have various causes. Too much water, too much fertilizer, imbalance in soil, or if you live in a city with high levels of calcium in the tap water that is used for watering plants.
Tap water or too much water
In the city I live in we have extremely high levels of Calcium in the water (hard water), and it’s not uncommon to buy water filters for the shower, sink, and water containers. The majority of my plants however are being fed unfiltered tap water, high in calcium. This results in a slow build-up of minerals that show themselves at the stomata or pores of the plant. Water diffuses through these pores (transpiration), and in the end, you will notice small white dots on the leaves that can be scraped off with a nail.
If you water your plant more than it needs, you may also witness salt deposits building up on the leaves as excess water evaporates. From my experience with Pilea Peperomioides care, they prefer slightly dry soil over moist soil, so a recommendation from here: let them dry out ever so slightly in between watering and you’ll get a much better-looking plant.
Too much fertilizer
Another possible cause of white spots on plants can fertilizer. If you overfeed your plant with fertilizer this can result in a mineral build-up as well, but the plant will typically show other signs of distress as well. Some fertilizers are slow releasers, meaning the minerals and nutrients will be absorbed in a slower rate through the soil, and in these cases, you want to make sure that you don’t feed too often.
Oedema is a disorder that I have personally yet to see on any Pilea, but I have seen it on vegetable plants. It’s caused by roots taking in more water than the leaves can get rid of through transpiration. As a result, water will be trapped in the pores and when the cells break it will look like small crystalline eruptions in a rusty or white colour, or water droplets, depending on the planter.
It’s likely to happen if you generally water too much, or let’s say when you go from warm months into colder and the plant no longer transpires as much but watering levels are the same. It’s worth keeping in mind, that for water to evaporate your plant needs leaves, and the balance of intake versus output can be affected negatively if you for example remove leaves.
In the case of white spots on Pilea, they typically look significantly different than Oedema does, so I would argue that if you are wondering what could be the real cause for spots on your plant, that it’s more likely to be mineral deposits.
How do I get rid of white spots on my Chinese Money Tree?
Keep in mind that the plant with mineral deposits is not suffering, if it otherwise looks healthy. In these cases, you don’t have to do something. The spots are always on the underside of the Pilea leaf and not that noticeable. So unless you are a plant-perfectionist you may as well just leave them.
If you insist on getting rid of them, you can simply remove the white spots with a nail or a moist cloth.
A better way of dealing with the spots would be to prevent the build-up, and here the ideal solution is to give your Pilea rainwater or if that is not an option, filtered tap water.
One thing that’s actually an easy fix for those white deposits. Just brush them off. They’re actually removable and not an outgrowth of the plant.