Loaded with a bunch of health benefits, having spinach in your garden is worth it.
But, it is worrisome to watch white spots on spinach leaves. Those tiny dots on dark green leaves of spinach may raise many questions.
Is it safe to eat spinach with white dots?
To determine, you must first diagnose the cause of white little spheres on this green leafy vegetable plant.
Rebecca Sideman (Horticulture State Specialist) states that white spots or fuzz on young spinach plant leaves are trichomes. They are nothing but a part of leaf, can be seen in many plant leaves including spinach. (Source)
Spinach trichomes are tiny hair like structures that have some purpose. However, in case of spinach it isn’t studied widely. They are commonly seen in younger leaves and not at all harmful.
Other side, white spots or white rust can also caused by fungus.
Albugo Occidentalis is the fungus responsible for development of white rust on spinach leaves.
This parasite attacks the spinach plant and starts feeding on it. It draws its nutritional requirements from the plant, thereby, obstructing the growth of the plant.
You need to differentiate between trichomes and fungal infection.
Also Read: Why Spinach Leaves Turning Yellow or White
What Causes White Spots on Spinach Leaves?
The white spots or white rust primarily appears on spinach plant during cold weather.
Spinach is a tropical plant and grows better in warmer weather.
Cold and moist weather allows parasites, such as Albugo Occidentalis to reproduce at a quick pace and attack plants. Continuous rain, replanting and over irrigation are some of the causes of white spots on the spinach leaves.
Let us have a look at the causes of white spots on spinach leaves in detail.
#1 Cold and moist weather conditions
As we have already discussed, moist weather favors the parasites and they reproduce at a great pace in such conditions. As a result, the chances of an attack on spinach increase manifolds.
The Albugo Occidentalis reproduces through zoospores. The zoospores require 55-62F temperature to attack and infect a plant.
Thus, a cold weather is most likely to bring infections to your spinach plant.
These attacks are more common during spring and winter season. As in these seasons, the humidity level in the air is high and temperature is constantly low. Frosty mornings give an added advantage to the fungal parasites.
In the initial stages, the attack by parasites causes chlorosis, a situation in which the plant is unable to produce sufficient amount of chlorophyll to meet its requirements.
This turns the leaves yellow and the continuous cold weather further allows the parasite to germinate and form white spots.
Eventually the spots cover all of the leaves and hinder the growth of the plant. If proper prevention measures are not taken, the fungus could potentially kill the plant.
There are different fungi that can cause white spots on spinach leaves, some of them are listed below:
- Cercospora leaf spot appears small white patches on your spinach leaves, but as the fungi matures white spot turns grey.
- Downy mildew is one of the common fungal diseases that cause grey or brown spots on leaves.
- Anthracnose causes tan lesions on spinach leaves.
- In white rust fungal infection, white blisters can be seen on spinach leaves.
You can use store available fungicides to treat white spots on spinach leaves that are caused due to fungal infestation.
How to determine the cause of white spots on spinach leaves?
Pro Tip: if you can easily rub off the white spots, then they are common trichomes that are safe to eat.
#2 Replanting similar plants
Planting similar plants, in the same soil mixture can lead to the re occurrence of similar infections.
Most of the pathogens that affect spinach are soil borne, and therefore planting similar species of plant increases the chances of infection.
The parasite that causes white spots or white rust on spinach plants is present in the soil and affects the leaves at the base of the plant in the first place. most gardeners believe but if they remove the infected plant and replant a fresh spinach add its place, the freshly grown plant will be free from infection.
This is a mistake, as the parasite is still present in the soil and replanting the same plant will only invite infection to the freshly grown plant as well.
Uprooting an infected plant and replacing it with the same plant is not a solution to preventing white spots from occurring, rather it worsens the situation.
Unless the soil is completely mixed and replaced completely, and proper hygiene of the plant is maintained, it is impossible to eliminate the occurrence of white spots/rust.
Fungal parasites thrive in damp places. They travel quickly in water and attack plants at a faster speed. It is therefore crucial that you do not over water your plant, as this does not help the growth of your plant in any way.
Rather it invites parasites, which is something none of the gardeners want for their plants.
Spinach plants require a substantial amount of water to grow but over watering should be avoided.
You should understand the requirements of your plant and water it only when needed.
As gardeners, we all want to provide suitable growing conditions to our plants but in doing so we should not forget that anything in access does more damage done any good to our plants.
So, to avoid overwatering of your plants you should check the moisture level of the soil before adding water to it.
If the soil is damp skip watering it as this has the potential to damage your crop. Only water the spinach when the moisture level in the soil is low and you feel that your plant needs water.
Also Read: How to Grow Malabar Spinach Plant in Pots?
How to Treat White Spots on Spinach Leaves?
You can treat white spots on leaves by using fungicides. What is more important is to prevent them.
Maintaining proper hygiene, using scientific irrigation techniques and crop rotation are a few of the techniques which can be used to prevent white spots or white rust from occurring on spinach.
Along with these methods there are also other ways of preventing white spots from upgrading on your spinach.
Read on to find out the ways in which you can protect your plant from these parasites.
Fungicides are an effective way of controlling the fungi in your garden. Regularly spray fungicides in your garden to prevent the parasites from attacking your plant.
Consult an expert and use the best fungicide available in the market. The major ones in use against the Albugo Occidentalis are pyraclostrobin and azoxytrobin.
Use Copper Compounds
Gardeners should use liquid compounds of copper to prevent or treat white spots.
These copper compounds are proven effective against the parasites which cause white rust and therefore every gardener must use them against pathogens which can harm their plants.
As we have already discussed the damage is caused by overwatering your plants, to prevent such damages from happening one should not over water the plants.
Continuous damp soil, wet leaves and an overall humid environment is extremely favorable to parasites.
If these conditions persist your harvest will be completely destroyed by the attacks from pathogens.
Therefore add water to your plants only when necessary and do not sprinkle water on the leaves of spinach rather, just water the roots.
Sulfur is effective against the parasite which causes white rust on spinach and therefore when you notice the presence of white spots on your spinach leaves you should spray sulfur to cure them.
It is advisable that while Springs Alpha you take necessary precautions like covering your eyes and mouth.
Although sulfur is not very harmful to the skin and eyes, spraying sulfur can cause irritation to some people.
Accordingly if you’re using sulfur always cover your eyes protect your mouth and skin.
Continuous planting of plants of the similar species increases the chances of similar infections in the freshly grown plants too.
Therefore gardeners should use crop rotation as a way of bringing back the nutrients in the soil so that it could help your plant in growth.
Do not grow similar plants over and over again as it rips off the soil from its essential nutrients and also increases the chances of damage to your plant.
Ensuring proper plant hygiene is necessary if you do not want attacks from parasite on your plant.
Regularly cut out the weeds in your garden, spray pesticides to free your garden from the presence of pests and clean the leaves of her plant from dust.
If you follow all of these measures regularly, your spinach plant we will not be attacked by parasites and you can enjoy a healthy harvest.
However it is important to note that you should spray sulfur or fungicides only when you notice the presence of white spots in the first place.
Also make sure that you do not overspray your plants with chemicals, otherwise it could impact your plants negatively.
Irrigate the soil properly and have a check on the moisture level of the soil before watering to prevent the occurrence of parasites in your garden.
Also Read: How to Grow Parsley From Seeds Indoors?
Is It Safe to Eat Spinach with White Spots?
- White spots are indicative of the fact that your plant has been attacked by parasites or fungus.
- By washing the leaves the spots might become less visible, but it does not change the fact that the spinach leaves have been attacked by parasites and that the parasites are still present on the leaves.
- Such plants should not be consumed in any situation as these are infected by parasites and consuming them, raw or after steaming, can also infect you and prove to be detrimental to your health.
- Throw the infected spinach right away and do not consume it. The parasite has attacked the plant and fed itself on the nutrients present in the spinach plant. What you have now is just an infected plant with no nutritional value. Plus there are parasites present in it. So you should never consume infected plants.
Other Spinach Related articles:
- How Long Does it Take to Grow Spinach?
- Will Spinach Grow Back After Cutting?
- Why Spinach Leaves Turning Yellow or White?
- What Vegetables to Grow All Year Round?
Spinach plants are loaded with health benefits and should be included in your diet. You can consume or eat spinach leaves with white spots if they are just trichomes.
But, if you notice white rust or downy mildew disease, they you should destroy the affected leaf to stop further spread.
While growing spinach use the necessary preventive measures, to avoid the occurrence of white spots or rust.