07/29/2012 11:42 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Sprout Home: What To Do About White Spots On Plants

Q & A -Powdery Mildew

Q: Help! My plants have white spots, and since I'm pretty sure they don't have strep throat, what's the deal?

A: Next time you're in the garden, keep a careful watch out for powdery mildew. It can pop up on plants that are too crowded or have been watered improperly. In high humidity or high water situations, this fungal disease may appear on plant leaves as small white circles that are powdery to the touch.

sprout home white spots on plants

Photo by Flickr user Jeff Kubina.

Q: So how do I get rid of it? Will it spread to the rest of my plants?

A: Yes, it can spread to other plants. Its small spores can attach to your hands, clothing or even just disperse in the air around it. It's easily transferred, so the best way to remove this nasty stuff is to use a scissor and cut out the infected leaves. Make sure to throw them in the trash, and don't leave them on the ground to spread to other plants.

Q: Is there anything I can do to guard my other plants from getting it?

A: There are many sprays and commercial products found at your local hardware store or your garden center, but one of the easiest remedy can be found in your kitchen. Mix up one gallon of water and one tablespoon of baking soda. Spray the combination on your plants along with your regular watering. Use once a week to keep your leaves fresh and clean and help keep this powdery villain at bay.

Q: What if I'm not sure that is what the problem is? Can I take it in to have the pros look at it?

A: Most garden centers will happily ID your problem, just be sure to put it in a plastic bag to keep it from contaminating the plants they have on hand. Otherwise, you won't make many friends!