Over the course of the past week I noticed spots developing on some of the new leaves. These start as faint yellow halos and seem to develop a brown core quickly over the course of a few days. The brown part is ~5 mm in diameter, while the halo can reach 2 or 3 cm.

The plant gets watered every 5 to 7 days (I have to admit I usually follow a schedule rather than checking moisture). The pot has no outflow, so there might be some standing watered at the bottom after each watering.

This condition has never been present on this plant before, and even now it has only developed on three or four leaves, all fairly recent.

In the last 3 years I have not given the plant anything other than water. I worry that this condition may be caused by a lack of nutrients.

My questions:

  • What is this condition? (My research points to "Leaf spot disease", apparently due to fungus)
  • Will flushing the plant help it recover?
  • Do I need to cut off and dispose of the affected leaves?
  • Can the fungus spread to healthy parts of the plant if I touch them after touching infected parts?
  • How can I heal the plant and prevent its recurrence?
  • Should I give the plant any supplements?

EDIT: I took the plant out of its outer pot and noticed there is a fair amount of roots sticking out of the bottom. Pictures added at the bottom. - Is this plant excessively root-bound? - Is this a potential cause of the disease? - Should I change anything about its current potting situation?

EDIT 2: I flushed the plant by spraying room-temperature water from the shower into the soil for about 5 minutes. I let the runoff water flow away and then put it back in its pot.

Pictures of the affected leaves (click to enlarge):

Root pictures:

2 Answers 2


Your plant needs to be transplanted into a larger pot. Absolutely. This plant likes a bit of constriction in its pots but this is indeed time to transplant. Not sure what the diameter of this pot is but you will need a pot at least 4 to 6" larger than this pot, use only potting soil, nothing else, I'd get a heavy clay pot or sand cast concrete for weight. Plant gets top heavy and will need a good base, heavy pot. No gravel or rocks in the pot. Just potting soil. Lightly firmed, completely watered as it is being re potted, unless there are branches in dire need of artificial support or the branch might break, do not stake this plant. Let your plant grow a thick and strong truck to support the top growth of this plant.

It looks to me that this pot was inside another pot, yes? You have to transplant it in a larger pot and from the amount of plant I am seeing you need a pot 6" bigger than this plastic terra cotta colored pot.

Next you have to go get some balanced fertilizer. And everyone gets tired of my simple fertilizer, extended release; OSMOCOTE 14-14-14. Use half of their recommended amount and half of the applications for now. Your plant looks incredible for having no chemistry with which to make its own food via photosynthesis.

Purchase plain old potting soil, cheapest is best. It is sterilized and provides the only medium potted plants should have. Make sure that that potting soil has NO fertilizer added. Also, don't get any of the water holding gimmicks like sponges/gel adding into your potting soil. No rock or gravel or styrofoam peanuts below the soil and above the drain hole. None. Lift the bottom of the pot off of the saucer or patio surface about a 1/4 inch using pieces of tile or cute 'pot feet'. That air space enhances drainage big time and dump out any standing water immediately.

Taking this plant into the shower is great. You should make sure to support your plant because the added water to the leaves could be too much weight for the trunk to bear. If you have a covered patio, your indoor plants would love the extra light they could get from a covered, roofed porch or patio. No direct sun. Then just take a hose and hose the entire plants down, supporting plants such as this one, high center of gravity? Grins. When you bring them back inside before any chance of frost, they will have stored far more energy than they could have while indoors and all that extra (food) energy will make your plants look like they just came from the nursery.

All plants in all types of gardens we humans grow for food or beauty, all plants need added fertilizer. Period. Too little, slow death, too much fast death. Osmocote is a sure fire way to safely add the chemistry plants have to have for photosynthesis especially in pots. I've used this in the garden and my landscapes as well. There are many kinds of fertilizers, formulations, some not so 'organic' and some very 'organic' and far more expensive. Plants need Nitrogen, Phosphorus, Potassium as well as over a dozen micro 'nutrients' or rather 'chemicals'; Boron, Iron, Manganese, Magnesium, silica, calcium...these aren't normally added until there are signs of deficiency or excess in these chemicals...Osmocote does just fine for now...extended release...use twice per year unless plant goes out of doors on the covered patio or porch then you'll want to do 3 applications (half the amount in the directions). Fertilizer is critical.

Watering, as you've already mentioned should only be done when the plant and pot are light compared to how heavy when fully watered. Best way to check. You'll see the difference right away. Rather you'll feel the difference right away. No watering on schedules is necessary.

Those spots could be a number of things...right now the least of this plant's worries. Normal spots. A plant that has had no fertilizer will most certainly not be able to fight disease or insects. And will have spots. What kind of lighting, what orientation of window? Drafts? I'd try to keep this plant in its original location until it gets used to new soil, fertilizer...

This guy will LOVE you for the new bigger pot and soil and a little fertilizer. Hope this helps.

  • Thank you very much for the very thoughtful response! Do you still suggest taking off the affected leaves?
    – kettlepot
    May 3, 2018 at 8:36
  • Take off leaves that are withering...the spotted leaves still have lots of photosynthetic factories to help 'pay' for that leaf's upkeep? If leaves aren't able to photosynthesize or are unable to get enough light to pay for their upkeep, the plant will start cutting it off anyway. Cut them off at the trunk.
    – stormy
    May 3, 2018 at 10:13
  • Quick update. From my limited research it looked like fusarium leaf spot disease, a fungal infection. I took off all the spotted leaves to hopefully curb it, and also thoroughly cleaned the high amount of dust off the remaining leaves. I removed roots sticking out of the bottom of the pot, cut the plastic away and took out the root ball, removed as much loose soil from the top as I could, and then placed it in a new pot about 3 inches wider in diameter. Thanks for your advice. I'll look into the fertilizer next.
    – kettlepot
    May 13, 2018 at 18:47
  • Here's an album with photos of the leaves and the end result! imgur.com/a/6fdx9VG
    – kettlepot
    May 13, 2018 at 18:48
  • I have little experience with fertilizers, do I have to buy Osmocote brand specifically? It doesn't seem widely available in Europe. Would any slow-release 14-14-14 fertilizer do?
    – kettlepot
    May 13, 2018 at 18:56

It’s important to make sure you have the correct soil, which needs to be well-draining. The pot also needs a drainage hole unless you want root rot.

Make sure to never move plants up to a pot that’s 6” bigger than the previous pot. That will also lead to root rot.

It’s also a important not to fertilize any plant that is already stressed. If you absolutely must, it should be heavily diluted first.

There’s also many studies regarding leaving foliage to fall off on its own because it gives nutrients back to the plant as the leaf dies off. I feel that’s more personal preference, but I tend to leaves a bit longer than normal because my plant’s health is more important than a stranger’s opinion of said plant.

  • Hi Ash, welcome. This site does not run like a forum. So please edit and remove your rant, otherwise this may get deleted. Quoting a reference will also improve your answer Aug 16, 2023 at 1:23

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