Leaves are spotted or mottled

The problems listed below assume that pests are not present on the plant in question. If you suspect that pests may be responsible for your problems, please refer to the Pest Page for more details.

Symptom/Detail Link/Cause Description/Solution
Only leaf tips are brown and/or dead. Over-fertilization
Excessive build-up of fertilizers in the pot can lead to the plant absorbing more minerals than it can cope with. To alleviate that, the plant will push all these excess minerals to the ends of the leaves to try and get rid of them. Reduce the fertilizing if the plant is actively growing, or if the plant is dormant stop fertilizing completely. You may use a clean sharp knife to trim off these tips to make the plant more presentable. If you are sure that fertilizers are not at fault, you might consider a potential toxic reaction as being responsible.
My plant belongs to the Oncidium/Odontoglossum group Cool water and/or temperatures
Certain members of this family are very susceptible to spotting of the leaves, especially towards the tips. This is particularly common during the cooler months of the year. To reduce this problem, use only warm water and try to keep the plant in an area with more moderate temperatures. In particular do not let the leaves sit wet overnight. Oncidium Sharry Baby, for example, is very prone to this problem.
Leaves are covered in fine spots. Toxic Reaction
Both mature and young leaves suddenly developed fine spotting distributed over the surface. The occurrence may be more prevalent on young or emerging leaves, than on the older ones.
Leaves and/or pseudobulbs have irregular dark spots. Fungal problem
Plant parts suddenly developed irregular dark blotching or spotting distributed over the surface. The occurrence may be more prevalent on young or emerging leaves, than on the older ones.
Leaves and/or pseudobulbs are flushed red or purple High Light
Many genera have adapted to increasing the pigment levels in their plant parts as a means to diminish high light. In particular, this is very common with plants belonging to the Cattleya group. It is perfectly normal, and you only need to ensure that the light levels are not so high that sunburn occurs. You can find out more about sunburn here.
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