Houseplant health
April 11, 2016 10:06 AM   Subscribe

What are these white spots on the leaves of my braided money plant? The spots are not holes, and appear on some leaves only. Indoor plant facing a southern window (bright light all day), and has thrived there for 3 years. I water only when the topsoil is dry. It appears to drain itself well.
posted by nologo to Home & Garden (3 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
If the white spots are mealy bugs, you can spray leaves with white oil to repel them.
posted by a lungful of dragon at 10:31 AM on April 11, 2016

After looking around at a lot of plant forum-type sites, I've found that this is something that a lot of people see with Pachira aquatica, so you're not alone. My best guess is that you've probably not repotted it in the time you've had it, and the soil has broken down to the point where it's causing problems for the roots, in which case the solution is to find a pot about 2 inches / 5 cm wider than the pot it's in now, and some fresh potting soil, and up-pot it.

I couldn't say for certain whether your plant had bugs or not, but I can say that I don't see any mealybugs or scale in your photo, and both of those would be large enough to see if they were on the leaves shown.

Spider mites are an outside possibility, though the leaves still look pretty green, and there's no visible webbing, so I doubt it.

Thrips would be unusual, but they do happen on houseplants (especially if you've had the plant outside, or left the window open: they're small enough to be able to get through a screen), and they do sometimes leave irregular tan or silvery patches on leaves where they've fed. Thrips are usually too small to see with the naked eye, though if you get close and blow little puffs of air at the leaves, sometimes you can see adults suddenly start scurrying around.

The only other thing I can think of that's remotely close to what you're seeing is edema, which is most likely when the plant is both wet and cold, in high humidity. If you haven't had edema in previous years, that's probably not what it is this year either, but it's still theoretically possible.

My advice would be to up-pot (shake off whatever old soil will shake off easily, too) and give it fresh soil and see if it keeps doing it. Keep an eye out for thrips, but I wouldn't spray unless/until you definitely see some.
posted by Spathe Cadet at 1:00 PM on April 11, 2016 [2 favorites]

Mine does that too. I don't think it's bugs. I agree with spathe cadet (amazing name, esp for a plant question) that we probably need to re-pot or at least throw some new soil on top.
posted by pseudostrabismus at 3:12 PM on April 11, 2016

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