The Q&A Archives: White Spots On Leaves

Question: My eight year old son brought home from school a lima bean plant that he has grown indoors from the seed. It has been transplanted into a bigger pot. I placed it outside to catch mild sunlight and now the leaves have white spots. Many leaves have died although the plant looks healthy and maintains growing. I can't let his plant down, please let me know how to help it, including sunlight and water requirements.

Answer: The plant may have developed powdery mildew, a fungal disease. It's common on bean and squash plant leaves late in the season, and seems to occur most often in my garden when nighttime temperatures are cool. You may be able to prolong the plant's life by providing artificial light and warm, dry indoor temperatures. The plant may or may not recover. You might have to explain to your son that lima bean plants are annuals. That is, they grow, flower, set seed and die, all in one growing season. Lima's need all spring and summer to grow and produce seed pods. They especially need full sunlight and warm temperatures to help them grow and develop. It's too late in the season for your plant to grow to its full potential. Next spring find a nice warm sunny spot and plant more lima bean seeds. Together you can nurture the plants to maturity and harvest the fruits of your labor.

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