Elephant Ear (Colocasia esculenta) is a gorgeous indoor plant that can complement your house decor without much care.
Despite being relatively maintenance-free, it can sometimes develop white spots, which can ruin its beauty and reduce its aesthetic value.
This article examines the causes of these white spots in the plant and some easy remedial measures. Keep reading.
The Elephant Ear Plant
The “Elephant Ear” is a group of tropical perennial plants in the Araceae family. They are grown for their thick heart-shaped leaves that resemble elephant ears.
These comprise Colocasia, Alocasia, and Xanthosoma. The genera differ in nativity, with the Colocasia and Alocasia originating in the tropics of Southern Asia while Xanthosoma is native to tropical America.
This article is mainly about Colocasia, which is usually grown indoors.
The standard and widely grown species of the Elephant Ear is the Colocasia esculenta, also referred to as Taro. This species has been cultivated in Asia for thousands of years.
It naturally grows in the wetlands and quickly matures within a few months, with the leaves growing up to three feet long and extending to a width of two feet. To achieve fast growth, it is wise to grow the plant from tuberous rhizomes.
The plant prefers moist, rich soil, partial shade, and a large container to accommodate its fast growth. However, you can do smaller pots for smaller varieties.
Elephant Ear can also grow well outdoors in favorable soil and sunlight.
What Causes White Spots on Elephant Ear Leaves?
Multiple factors can lead to your Elephant Ear forming white spots. The typical ones include:
- Fungal Infections
- Pests And Insects
- Nutritional Deficiencies
- Environmental Conditions
Let’s take a more detailed look at each of the factors below:
Fungal infections are the prime suspects for causing white spots in your Colocasia plant. The two most common fungi include powdery mildew and leaf spot.
These grow on the surface of your Colocasia leaves, forming a fuzzy white coating or powdery white substance. Under intense infection, the leaves spread and coalesce, leading to yellowing and wilting.
Pests And Infections
Several pests and insects can also induce white spots on elephant ear leaves.
Spider mites feed on your Colocasia leaves’ upper and lower sides, sucking chlorophyll, resulting in countless white and yellow spots on the leaves. Hot and dry conditions favor the infestation of spider mites.
Another common culprit of white spots on your plant is the Mealy bug. The tiny white insects suck sap from the plant resulting in the formation of a powdery white substance on the leaves.
Scale insects are notorious for attacking broad-leaved houseplants and other ornamentals— your Colocasia is no exception.
The tiny parasitic insects vary from white, orange, black, green, or brown and typically feed off the plant’s sap. This results in white and yellow spots.
Adverse environmental factors can also induce white spots in the plant. Some are listed below:
Moist soil is essential for the continuous growth of Elephant Ear. We recommend watering your plant once to twice a week during summer to keep the soil moist while keeping it from getting soggy.
However, overwatering and underwatering can riddle the plant with yellow, white, or brown spots. It is advisable to water the plant at the root zone rather than the tip.
A common indicator that you have overwatered the plant is water dripping from the leaf tip, which results from Edema.
Edema is caused by too much water being trapped in the plant’s tissues. Excess moisture also causes root rot, inhibiting the continuous flow of water and nutrients from the roots to other plant parts.
Underwatering your Elephant Ear plant causes dry leaves and damaged roots resulting in yellow or white spots on your leaves that eventually spread into the entire plant.
Different species of Colocasia prefer varying sunlight intensities. Some can grow under full sunlight, while others prefer partial shade.
The light green-type varieties love more bright light when compared to the dark green ones, which do well in filtered light.
Regardless, you want to be wary of direct sunlight, which causes your Colocasia to scorch and die. Too much sunlight also leads to brown spots that gradually spread to the entire leaf.
On the other hand, less sunlight affects chlorophyll synthesis leading to yellow and whitish spots on the leaves.
Elephant Ear plants prefer high humidity levels, as expected from a tropical variety. Lack of moisture in the air can cause the leaves to turn brown, yellow, and eventually white.
However, if the cause of whiteness is a fungal infection, high humidity levels can further accelerate the formation of white spots.
Prevention and Treatment Of White Spots
There is a raft of measures you can take to ensure your Colocassia sparkles again.
As mentioned earlier, overwatering and underwatering are common factors for a spotty elephant ear. You want to maintain a regular watering regime for the plant.
Lighting requirements for your Colocasia will depend on the species you are propagating in your yard. If propagating light-green Colocasia, ensure it is kept in bright sunlight in your yard for the best results.
Well-Draining Soil Mix
A well-draining mix helps prevent potential problems with root rots and Edema by channeling excess water away from the roots. Excess water makes the roots unable to function efficiently, leading to nutrient deficiencies.
Additionally, the soil must have an ideal pH. Acidic soil with a pH of 5.5 to 6.5 is best suited for Colocasia.
Avoid Overcrowding The Plants
Avoid overcrowding your Colocasia plants together since this spreads the white spots to unaffected plants.
Control And Treatment
Use Commercial Fungicides And Pesticides
You can use trusted fungicides and pesticide products from your local garden center to treat your precious plant. Always read labeled instructions and strictly adhere to them to prevent more damage to your plants.
For fungal infections, a copper-based fungicide can typically work well when applied weekly or bi-weekly, depending on the degree of infestation.
Spray Insecticidal Soap
Spray thoroughly on the plant, covering all the leaves and infested stems. Repeat the spraying for a couple of days for effective results.
Apply Neem Oil
Neem oil is an effective natural fungicide that can rid your plant of nasty white spots. Depending on the severity of the infestation, apply the oil weekly and constantly monitor the progress.
Remove And Dispose of Affected Leaves And Plant Parts
Some of your Colocasia leaves will be severely affected compared to others. We advise disposing of leaves that have a high degree of white spot infestation to avoid the spread to healthy ones.
Treat your Colocasia plant with an appropriate systemic insecticide if insects are the culprits.
Elephant Ear is a gorgeous tropical plant carrying distinctive heart-shaped leaves. However, it is prone to white spot infestation commonly caused by fungal infections, insect infestations, and adverse environmental factors.
You can prevent and control this infestation with proper care and maintenance. You must provide appropriate sunlight, sufficient water, adequate humidity, and a well-draining soil mix.
However, in case of a severe infestation, you can use the remedial measures highlighted above to ensure your plant is glossy green again.
Job Kiniale is a certified crop scientist and gardening enthusiast with a passion to help beginning gardeners navigate their newfound hobby. Let’s talk about plants, backyard ideas, and general gardening advice. Outside work, Job loves spending time with family.