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Why are there White Spots on my Catnip Leaves?

As the name suggests, your cats will love munching upon the catnip leaves. And so will you! Brew a few catnip leaves along with your morning tea. There you have your minty refreshing potion to wake you up!

But what if your catnip leaves start developing white spots? Purr-fect herb is not so perfect anymore!

White spots on Catnip leaves most commonly signal spider mite infestation. However, they can be caused by thrips, sunscalds, and other pests.

White spots on Catnip leaves
Cat with a catnip plant (Source: Pixabay)

Well, now you see you are the only one fond of their strong minty essence.

When we hear the word “pest infestation,” it might sound like a disaster, and we assume our plants won’t get through.

However, that’s not true for catnips. They are aggressive herbs and can be restored to health with little care.

Now, let us find out how to treat your pretty catnip leaves and make them edible again!

What is Wrong with my Catnip?

Not to scare you or anything, but the white spots on the leaves are merely the early signs of sickness. If you ignore these red flags, your catnip plant might not make it on its own.

Although catnips are robust houseplants with heightened tolerance, sometimes inappropriate growing conditions make it hard for them to remain healthy.

Especially if you are a plant lover and have placed your catnips with numerous other plants, they might sometimes get infected from neighboring plants.

Reasons Behind White Spots on Catnip Leaves

White spots on catnip leaves are not very common; however, many gardeners report having come across this issue at least one time.

Several reasons contribute to it; however, the most prevalent one is spider mites.

Now, we have an excellent reason for loathing spiders!

1. Spider Mite Infestation

These are the miniature spiders that are white to almost transparent and extremely small. Spider mites can be very hard to identify as they are not very visible. However, they leave a concrete trace of existence.

Look for thin web-like structures on the backside of your catnip leaves.

White spots on Catnip leaves
A magnified spider mite (Source: Unsplash)

Now they don’t precisely munch on your catnip leaves but do much worse. Instead, they feed by sucking on the sap from the tissues of catnip leaves.

Because they have a very high reproduction rate, they can kill or weaken your catnips in just a matter of weeks.

Initial infestation begins with a few white spots on the leaves, and ultimately it gets frequent and denser in all the leaves leading to the death of your Catnip.

2. Thrips Infestation

There are a variety of thrips that can infest your Catnip. Their color ranges from black, brown, golden to orange. Thrips are very tiny, probably as thin as a sewing needle.

But, the best part is, we can accurately notice their presence before a bad infestation. Be aware because an adult thrips can fly and spread to another plant.

These thunder flies suck on the plant sap from the leaves and tender stems, leaving them dry and white.

They don’t only leave white spots on your catnips but are also capable of transmitting viruses! 

If you are having a hard time identifying the pests, get a magnifying glass. When magnified, they look like lobsters!

3. Sunscald

Just as humans get sunburnt, plants go through the same peril when exposed to extreme sunlight. So if your Catnip starts developing frequent white spots on the leaves, check the sun exposure.

If you have placed them outdoors, chances are the leaves have been damaged by the sun.

Sunscald can sometimes damage and scar the stem of the plants.

As a result, they might fall victim to fungal and bacterial infections. A lot of fungal infections also exhibit symptoms of white spots on the leaves.

Other times, sunscalds can also damage the transportation system in the plant body, restricting the flow of the appropriate amount of nutrients. Hence, the Catnip leaves also develop white spots as a sign of undernutrition.

How to Know if Catnip Leaves are Infected?

Identifying sunscalds is pretty straightforward. If you have placed your Catnip in the sun, remove them and put them somewhere shady.

Now, check the catnip leaves after a week. Chances are, the new leaves won’t have any white spots.

Now, the question is, how do you know that pests have infected your catnip plant? Here is a list of signs you might want to check with your Catnip.

1. Insects Eggs

Insects lay their eggs on the underside of the leaves, especially under the mature leaves that are broader and stronger.

If you see a cluster of tiny ball-like structures laid flat on the leaves, they are the eggs of pests. They come in a variety of colors like white, brown, yellow, golden, and more.

White spots on Catnip leaves
Insect eggs on a leaf (Source: Unsplash)

2. Tiny Insects

Bugs are more intelligent than we might have guessed. Hence, to remain out of sight, they tend to stay beneath the leaves. So, carefully check the underside of the leaf. Make sure not to be hasty, you know, thrips fly!

3. Spider Webcasts

If your Catnip has a fragile web-like structure on the leaves and stems, your plant is infested with spider mites. No doubt!

You can find the webbing mainly on the leaves and nodes; however, if the infestation is too bad, they could be everywhere on the plant.

4. Pests Sticky Residue

Some pests leave a sticky residue after consuming the plant sap. They are primarily in the form of tiny water droplets.

Inspect the leaves. If you see water-like spots that are sticky, trust me, it is not humidity!

White spots on Catnip leaves
Sticky droplet residue on catnip leaves (Source: Pixabay)

You can rule out Pest/Insect Infestation and Sunscalds if you do not find the indications as mentioned above along with the white spots. Maybe try looking into the roots and watch out for any root rot or soil problems.

Is your Catnip Dying? Do check this article: Why is your Catnip dying?

What to do if there are White Spots on Catnip?

Well, once you identify the problem, treatment will seem very convenient. Most of the pest infestations are treatable. The following steps will help you remove the bugs from your Catnip and help them thrive again.

1. Isolate the Plant

The very first step is to isolate your Catnip from other plants and check the other neighboring plants for signs of infestation.

2. Remove the Leaves with White Spots

Remove the leaves with white spots. Also, remove the leaves with the insect eggs. Finally, burn down the infected leaves to avoid the spread of bugs.

3. Streaming Water

It is best to place the plant under running tap water. Then, spray your infested catnip with a stream of water. Don’t drown your plant, though.

The catnip plant is drought tolerant and can resist the heat. However, make sure to drain any excess water, as damp soil can breed germs and other moisture-related problems.

4. Rubbing Alcohol

To physically eradicate any evidence of insects, clean the leaves and stem with diluted rubbing alcohol. Then, carefully clean the plant with a diluted rubbing alcohol to remove any webcasts or sticky particles.

You may get rid of pests that attach to your plant by rubbing isopropyl on them. Make a solution by mixing one part alcohol with three parts water and applying it to the bugs as soon as possible.

It will help if the infestation isn’t too bad.

5. Spraying Insecticide

Spray the plant with an insecticide. And, since Catnip is an edible herb, it is best to use a natural insecticide. You can also make your natural insecticide spray using diluted neem oil or diluted apple cider vinegar.

Make sure to spray the insecticide on your Catnip once a week for about two months.

6. Insecticidal Soap

Insecticidal soap is another useful plant cure that is both environmentally safe and non-toxic to your plants.

They became obsolete as the use of chemical insecticides increased. Organic insecticides, on the other hand, are gaining popularity as people pay more attention to them.

The following steps can be used to create insecticidal soap at home:

  • Get yourself a spray bottle first.
  • Fill the bottle halfway with water and one tablespoon of liquid soap.
  • Shake the bottle vigorously.
  • If you want to get rid of bugs quickly, don’t make it too harsh by adding more liquid soap. Your plants would instead become dehydrated and die.
  • Spray during morning and evening.

7. Place Few cloves of Garlic or Coffee

It is the natural remedy to get the insects and bugs off the plant. Place a few cloves of garlic or coffee grounds on the pot to keep the bugs at bay.

8. Replace the Potting Mix

After a pest infestation, it is best to change the potting mix as some insects have the habit of living in the soil for a moisture boost.

You can find these treatments on Amazon.

TreatmentPest Control TypeBrand
Isopropyl AlcoholChemicalMAXTITE
InsecticideChemicalBIOADVANCED
Sticky TrapsNaturalGarsum
Insecticidal SoapNaturalNatria 706230A

How to Prevent White Spots on Catnip Leaves?

As important as removing the pests from your Catnip, you also need to focus on avoiding re-infestation. Therefore, ensure that your Catnip is placed in a suitable environment that does not promote the development of pests.

The following points will help you rule out any future infestations.

Catnip plants (SOurce: Pixabay)

1. Adequate Light Requirements

Sunlight keeps the soil dry and kills pests by drying them too. No doubt the sun is called the natural bug repellent!

Although Catnips grow well indoors, it is advised to keep them outdoors to receive a few hours of sun.

2. Quick-Drying Potting Mix

It is always recommended to plant your Catnip in a quick-drying and light potting mix with plenty of air sacs. Incorporate cocopeat and perlite to keep your potting soil dry. Pests hate dry soil. Let us take this to our benefit!

Pro Tip: Almost all pests hate the smell of citrus fruits. Place a few oranges or lemon peels on the topsoil to keep them off your Catnip.

3. Avoid Heavy Watering Habits

If you have a medium-sized Catnip in a pot, 200 ml of water every five days works wonders!

Catnip plants do not prefer soggy soil but, bugs do. Bugs tend to reproduce and be happy in wet ground.

Therefore, make sure to water your Catnip when you see that the topsoil is dry. Make sure the soil is moist but not dripping.

If you have the habit of misting your Catnip, do not overdo it. And, make sure to clean the plant with a clean cloth after misting to avoid residual moisture for the pests to feed.

If you forget to water your catnips for a few days, don’t worry. They can go for a long time without water and will revive immediately upon watering.

4. Proper Use of Insecticide

It is essential to use insecticides to prevent bugs in plants. However, always choose a natural insecticide for edible herbs like Catnips.

Even if your Catnip does not have any issues with bugs, it is best to spray them with diluted neem oil every month.

Tips to Take Care of Catnip

White spots on Catnip leaves
A honeybee sucking catnip flower (Source: Pixabay)

Catnips are not fussy plants. They are considerably easy to grow and maintain. The following tips and tricks can give you the Catnip of your imagination. You will always have plenty of healthy leaves both for you and your cat!

1. Fertilize your Plant Monthly

Catnips love that extra boost of plant vitamins and slow-releasing fertilizers now and then. A well-fertilized catnip will look greener and healthier with broader leaves.

2. Pruning is Necessary

It is good to keep your Catnip bushy for a healthy look and growth. Hence, trim leaves off once in a while. A fuller Catnip will appear healthier than a leggy one! Also, it is best not to let your catnip flower.

3. Re-pot When Necessary

Catnip plants do not mind being root-bound for a short period. However, as soon as you start noticing roots creeping out the drainage holes, go on and re-pot them into a slightly larger pot.

4. Change Potting Mix while Repotting

Every time you re-pot your Catnip, use a fresh and sterilized potting mix. An old potting mix won’t benefit the plant as the nutrients will have been depleted.

5. Give an Airy Space

Catnip plants do not like to be crowded. Hence, please place them in a spot where there are not many plants around. Like some humans, they tend to enjoy their own company!

6. Overharvesting is a Big No

When you recently bring a catnip home, it might get a little overwhelming. You might end up consuming their leaves every day. And if you have a cat, that’s double trouble!

Make sure that your Catnip is consistent with its growth as you are with its consumption. The rate of harvesting and production should always go hand in hand!

7. Sticky Trap

A sticky trap is one of the best ways of catching the thrips and other bugs that fly around. Make your very own sticky trap by putting tacky glue on a yellow piece of paper. Hang the sticky traps close to your plant for best results.

Conclusion

Catnip is a brilliant addition to your plant craze. They are one of the low-maintenance herbal plants that have been used for generations.

You might be surprised to find out that humans use Catnip leaves for their calming effects. So, why not put in little effort and keep the leaves healthy and bug-free.

Now that we know the possible causes for white spots in Catnip let us treat them with the least toxic option available.

Keep your Catnip leaves healthy, and there is your 24/7 doctor to treat headaches and toothaches!

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