Why Are My Basil Leaves Turning White? (9 Common Reasons & Best Solutions)

Basil is a popular herb both for cooking and medicinal purposes. It has many benefits, including reducing inflammation, boosting the immune system, and treating various ailments.

Basil contains antioxidants that help to protect cells from damage, and it is also a source of folic acid, which can help to prevent congenital disabilities in pregnant women.

You must have seen the basil leaves turning white if you have it at home. The leaves turn white majorly because of a fungal disease or an insect infection. Whitening can also be caused by too much water or fertilizer or an imbalance of nutrients in the soil.

Why Are The Basil Leaves Turning White
Basil Leaves Turning White

To prevent whitening, apply a smaller dose of water-soluble, balanced liquid fertilizer every two weeks during the growing season. When fertilizing basil, use a product specifically designed for vegetables.

There are many more reasons for basil leaves to turn white. Go through our detailed research and simple guide to learn more about the problem and the relevant solutions.

Basil Leaves Turning White (Reasons & Fixes)

Due to their numerous advantages today, every household has a basil plant. But unfortunately, due to varied reasons, the leaves of the plant turn white. Some significant reasons for leaves whitening and their solutions are mentioned hereunder. Take a look!

Nutrient deficiency 

The nutrient deficiencies most commonly seen in basil plants are nitrogen, potassium, magnesium, and sulfur. Nitrogen, sulfur, and iron deficiency result in the yellowing of the leaves and stunted growth, while potassium deficiency causes the leaves to turn yellow and become thin and weak. Magnesium deficiency causes brown patches on the leaves and can lead to dieback of the plant.

Nutrient deficiency of Basil Leaves
Nutrient deficiency of Basil Leaves


A small dose of water-soluble, balanced liquid fertilizer every two weeks during their growth will help to remedy the problem. Also, fertilize your basil before planting or repotting it. Fertilize with an all-purpose fertilizer made for vegetables or flowers. Use enough to make the soil around the plant moist but not saturated.

Watering issues

Overwatering or underwatering are other common reasons why basil leaves turn white. Basil is a member of the mint family and likes soil that is moist but not soggy. When the soil is too wet, it causes fungal growth that affects the basil’s leaves. And when it is too dry, it will affect its average growth.

Watering issues of Basil Leaves
Watering issues of Basil Leaves


Water your plants sparingly during droughts and only enough to keep the surface of the soil moist; refrain from saturating the plant roots. If you accidentally overwater your plants, try to correct things quickly by removing excess water with a towel or a bucket before it has a chance to rot your plants’ roots. 

Finally, avoid direct sunlight when growing basil; it encourages too much wilting. Also, remove the rotten root, if any, and constantly check the soil moisture level. 

Extreme temperature fluctuations

Basil thrives in temperatures between 20 and 27 degrees Celsius. This means that, in general, basil will be fine at room temperature as long as the humidity is high enough. However, if you live in an area with extreme temperature fluctuations (like during winter), basil may not do well if the temperature dips below 20 degrees Celsius.

Extreme temperature fluctuations of Basil Leaves
Extreme temperature fluctuations of Basil Leaves


Basil can turn white from the cold, but there is a way to prevent it. First, grow basil in a container that is filled with soil that has been prepped for basil. This will help to ensure that the basil doesn’t experience extreme temperature fluctuations and will stay bright green all season long.

Overexposure to sunlight: Does basil like the full sun?

Basil like indirect sunlight. Direct sun can cause basil leaves to turn white and become crispy. If you notice your basil leaves turning white and becoming crispy, you have likely overexposed them to sunlight. Basil should be planted in full sun if you want strong coloration in the leaves, but partial shade will also work.


Monitor how much light the plant gets, Here are some steps you can take to monitor how much light the plant gets and help prevent the leaves from turning white: 

  • Keep an eye on the plant’s foliage. If you notice that the leaves are starting to pale, reduce the amount of direct sunlight the plant receives.
  • Place your basil in a location with plenty of indirect light. This will help keep the leaves healthy and green.
  • Talk to your local garden center about ways to protect your basil from excessive sunlight, such as using shade cloth or planting in a shady spot. 

Infection or disease

Basil leaves turning white commonly indicates that the plant is infected with a virus or disease. The most common viruses that cause this phenomenon are black rot, crown gall, and stripe rust.

The best way to determine if your basil is infected is to take a sample and run it through a virus detection kit. If the test results return positive, you will need to take appropriate steps to protect the plant and prevent further damage.

Infection or disease of Basil Leaves
Infection or disease of Basil Leaves


Basil leaves turning white can be caused by several reasons. Infection or disease is the most common, but excessive light causes this problem. To prevent basil leaves from turning white, you must monitor how much light the plant gets. If the plant receives too much light, it will turn white instead of green. You can also protect the plant from excess sunlight by covering it with a cloth.

Pests and Insects

Basil can be susceptible to several pests and insects. These include aphids, beetles, leafhoppers, whiteflies, and mites. Aphids are tiny green or black insects that suck plant juices. They reproduce by laying eggs on the leaves, which hatch into nymphs that feed on the plant juices. Beetles eat various kinds of foliage, like basil leaves. 

Leafhoppers are tiny brown or green insects that feed mainly on nectar and pollen from flowers. They can cause damage to plants by sucking plant juices and damaging their foliage. Whiteflies are small, winged insects that feed on flower nectar and can cause severe damage to plants.

Pests and Insects of Basil Leaves and solution
Pests and Insects of Basil Leaves and solution


Here are three easy solutions to managing pest control: 

  • Use natural products like garlic or neem oil to reduce pest populations. These products will fight off pests without harmful chemicals. 
  • Harden your plants by removing any excess moisture from their leaves. This will make them less susceptible to pests and diseases. 
  • If you find pests are becoming a problem, consider using an organic pesticide like pyrethrum or rotenone on a limited basis. These organic pesticides are less harmful to humans and the environment, but they may still require some follow-up care.

Wrong soil

Many people are unaware that basil prefers soils with a pH of around 5. Though the plant can grow in soils with a pH as high as 7, it is better off growing in soils between 5 and 6.

This is because when the soil reaches a pH of 6, it becomes more acidic, which helps to kill harmful bacteria and fungi. In addition, basil grows best in soil that has good drainage and is rich in organic matter.

Wrong soil
Wrong soil


There is a solution that can keep the soil healthy and prevent this from happening. Basil likes fertilizers high in nitrogen, so it’s essential to keep the soil well-nourished with these nutrients if you want your basil plants to stay healthy. You can also try adding organic matter to the soil to help absorb moisture and boost fertility.

Salt Accumulation

Salt can accumulate on basil leaves, making them look white and limp. This condition is caused by a buildup of salt on the leaves’ surface, which inhibits the plant’s ability to photosynthesize. Over time, this can lead to wilting, stunted growth, and even death. To prevent salt accumulation on your basil plants, water them well and apply a high concentration of freshwater fertilizer.


Salt accumulates in plants when it’s not properly flushed out. To help prevent this problem, try using rainwater, filtered water, or distilled water to water your plants. Also, remember to make frequent water changes to keep the soil moist and encourage good root growth.

Insufficient amount of light

Basil leaves turn white and wilted in the light, indicating insufficient light for the plants to grow. This is caused by a lack of sunlight reaching the basil leaves. If you have an east or west-facing window, try moving your plants so that they receive more light. Alternatively, use artificial lighting if you don’t need more natural sunlight.

Insufficient amount of light of Basil Leaves
Insufficient amount of light of Basil Leaves


One way is to increase the amount of sunlight that reaches the basil plants by using a taller trellis or fencing or by growing basil in a location that receives more sunlight. Another solution is to move the basil plants closer to a window where they can receive more light.

Is It Ok To Eat Basil Leaves With White Spots? 

Basil is a herb that can be eaten fresh or dried. Fresh basil leaves are typically a bright green color and can have small white spots on them. However, some believe the white spots on basil leaves are poisonous and should not be eaten.

Some people say that the spots are stalks that were missed during harvesting, but others believe that the spots are caused by infection and should be avoided. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How do you fix yellow leaves on basil?

Leaves on basil may turn yellow and curl, indicating that the plant is losing water or nutrients. There are a few ways to fix this problem.
One is to water the basil more regularly; another is to add a fertilizer specifically for leafy plants. If watering doesn’t solve the issue, try fertilizing with an organic acid such as sulfur or copper sulfate. 

Why are my basil leaves turning silver?

Basil is a popular herb in many cuisines and is often used for its aromatic properties. However, basil can also be susceptible to various pests and diseases, including silver leaf disease. This disease causes the leaves on basil plants to turn silver-white and often results in the plant dying. 

What does Overwatered basil look like?

Overwatered basil will have wilted leaves that are limp and have a dull appearance. The center of the plant will be hollow and waterlogged, affecting the overall health of the plant. The smell of over-watering basil is often intense and unpleasant. If left unchecked, over-watering basil can lead to root rot and the death of the plant.


It is essential to take proper care of basil plants before their leaves turn white. Proper watering, fertilization, and shade can help prolong the life of this attractive herb. However, be sure to harvest basil when the leaves are a deep green, keeping in mind that older leaves will be more flavorful.

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