If you’re a plant mom or plant dad to a beautiful mint plant, you’re probably aware that leaf discoloration is a big problem. If you’re seeing white spots on your mint leaves, this is an issue that needs to be solved as soon as possible!
But what is causing these white areas to sprout up? What can you do in order to prevent them and to get rid of them once and for all?
Read on to find out what is causing your natural, beautiful green mint to acquire those ugly white spots.
Why Are My Mint Leaves Turning White?
There are two main reasons that your mint leaves could be turning white. Each of these has its own unique causes, effects, and ways to fix and prevent them. It is extremely important to diagnose which type of leaf damage your mint has. This way you’ll be able to target and fix these problems with specific solutions that are effective for the exact type of damage your plant is experiencing.
The first reason your mint can have white spots is the presence of bugs! These aren’t normal, visible bugs like fruit flies, but much smaller, suckling bugs that love the taste of your mint. These are mostly spider mites, but other types of bugs could be present as well.
These bugs love to make their homes on your mint leaves and suck the mint flavor out of the leaf, leaving small white spots all over them.
If you’re still unsure based on a cursory glance whether or not bugs are the problem, there are a few other ways to identify them. Webbing or any other kind of bug habitat near your mint plan is a surefire sign that your white spots are being caused by suckling bugs of some kind.
If you can’t find any webbing, try to find a magnifying glass that zooms at least 10x. This should be enough to see the spider mites crawling around, as they are too small to be spotted as anything more than tiny, tiny specs with the naked eye. If you do see little bugs crawling around, it’s time to act fast!
The second major cause of white spots on your mint leaves is powdery mildew. This powdery white substance is often mistaken for dirt or dust, especially in its beginning stages when it still a grayish color. However, it is not simply harmless dirt or dust.
This mildew is often the result of your mint being in an area that lacks humidity. Once the leaves of your mint dry out, it will begin to form the fungus known as powdery mildew on its surface. This can further damage the mint leaves, so it needs to be dealt with as soon as possible!
Powdery Mildew will become more obvious as time moves on, so it isn’t too hard to identify with the naked eye. It will spread all over the leaves and begin to cover most of the surface area of the leaf, far more than the smaller marks from the suckling bugs. This can help you clearly identify powdery mildew as the problem as opposed to the bugs.
How To Get Rid Of White Spots On Mint Leaves
So, now you know what kinds of damage your mint plant can experience, but the more important question is this: how do you get rid of them? Well, that depends on which type of damage your mint is experiencing.
There are a number of ways that you can deal with each issue, but it is important to know which issue you are experiencing before you dive into trying to solve them.
Cutting Back The Plant
The first solution for getting rid of white spots actually works for both types of damage. Simply trimming the damaged leaves off the mint plant before moving it to a more suitable place will fix the issue. However, there are obvious drawbacks to this method.
You won’t be able to use the mint plant for a while. This is because the leaves will take a significant amount of time to grow back. Remember, you aren’t trimming just part of the leaf. The entire leaf needs to be cut off to allow it to grow back again anew.
This is a great solution if you aren’t looking to use your mint plant any time soon, and it has time to grow back to where you need it to be before you want to make a dessert or cocktail with it.
However, if you do need the mint from your mint plant sooner rather than later, fear not! There are some other solutions that you can try.
Getting Rid Of Bug Damage
In order to get rid of the damage caused by suckling bugs such as spider mites, you’ll need to first get rid of them. There are a couple of effective ways of doing this, each with its own merits and reasons to use them.
Simply cleaning the mint plant will work for removing the white spots from suckling bugs such as spider mites. A mix of soap and water, with a lot more water than soap, should do the trick. Simply spread it on the top side of the leaf, where the damage is, and then the bottom, where the bugs love to stay and suckle on the mint.
Remember, you don’t have to scrub the mint plant. Simply generously coat it in the diluted soap mixture and rub gently. You aren’t trying to scrub off the white spots. All you are trying to do is get rid of the bugs and protect the plant so it can restore itself to its former color naturally.
Bringing In A Beneficial Insect
This is a far more creative and radical strategy for getting rid of spider mites and other bugs that might be damaging your mint plant. However, it can be extremely effective.
If you can find an insect that will eat spider mites or whatever bug is posing problems for your mint plant, this can solve your problem rather quickly. However, make sure to do your research on what kind of bug will be best for your home.
You do not want to get a bug that will harm you, your pets, or your mint plant. You also do not want a bug that will reproduce too much and create an infestation of its own! Be careful with this strategy if you want to use it, but remember it can be very effective in ridding your home of spider mites.
Cleaning Powdery Mildew
Powdery mildew can be cleaned in a multitude of ways. This mostly comes in the form of different solutions that are great for getting rid of the fungus.
There are plenty of chemicals that will advertise that they can rid your mint of powdery mildew and other fungi, but there are plenty of holistic solutions that will work just as well, and cost a fraction of the price, without putting chemicals all over the mint you mean to eat.
Combining a tablespoon of baking soda with a teaspoon of soap and a gallon of water will create a solution that is great for treating powdery mildew. The fungus has trouble growing in the presence of soap and baking soda. This is also a great preventative measure!
Germ-killing mouthwash is also great for killing the spores of the powdery mildew fungus. This is a more powerful method of killing the fungus, but be careful! The mouthwash can also slow the healthy growth of new leaves if used in a too highly concentrated state.
Make a solution that is one part mouthwash to three or four parts water. This should be enough dilution to keep your mint safe while still dealing with the fungus well.
How to Prevent Mint Leaves from Turning White
There are plenty of ways to deal with white spots on your mint leaves, but none of them will ever work as well from preventing the problem from happening in the first place!
The best way to prevent mint leaves from being damaged is to take good care of your mint plant. Keep it in a shady, humid area and water it on a consistent watering schedule. This will prevent it from drying out, which is what causes powdery mildew to form.
To prevent spider mites, spraying your plant with certain solutions such as water and neem oil can deter bugs from your mint leaves. Likewise, spreading out your mint plants can make it hard for large colonies of bugs to damage all of your leaves at the same time.
Is It Safe To Eat Mint With White Spots?
It might surprise you, but the short answer to this question is yes. Mint leaves with bug damage might lack flavor, but as long as there aren’t bugs currently on the leaf, they should be safe to eat. However, if you want the full flavor, it might be best to let them heal first.
Powdery mildew should be cleaned off first, but again, you won’t get sick or die from eating it. You may get a mild stomach ache, but this can be avoided by simply cleaning it off with the above methods. Again, the main loss from powdery mildew, just like spider mites and other suckling bugs, is flavor.
So, if you have white spots on your mint leaves, it is not the end of the world! Simply follow the above steps to clean them and then prevent it from happening again. They can still be used, though they might be a little ugly! Make sure your mint plants are growing in a proper environment, and use the right materials to clean them should anything go wrong!
So what are you waiting for? Cocktail night is going to be ruined without some of your delicious mint. Clean those leaves up and get your mint ready to roll!