Do not worry. Your plant has not started to produce cotton!
What is happening is that your plant is infested with mealybugs (Planococcus citri), one of the most common pests of our plants, particularly house plants.
Mealybug is a white insect that produces a cotton-like pad where it nests to lay its eggs. It feeds on the sap of plants and excretes a sugary solution called honeydew, which can attract fungi and bacteria – hence your plant is sometimes sticky and with a black powder (sooty mold).
You can usually find it on the underside of the leaves and on the insertion of their petioles with the stem, so you should pay attention to this when you are in your weekly plant care moment.
How can I control this pest?
Mealybugs are not a very severe pest if controlled in its initial stage. However, it is a very persistent house plant pest, requiring patience and perseverance to control it.
The way to treat without synthetic chemicals will be to use our Leaf Protector neem oil. It acts as a contact insecticide against soft-bodied insects, including mealybugs. This means that the Leaf Protector neem oil has to come into contact with the insects so that it can interfere with their respiratory mechanism and cause their death by asphyxiation.
Mealybugs photo credits: University of Maryland Extension.