Mealybugs on Succulents: How to Identify and Kill Them
If you’ve grown succulents for any amount of time, you’ve likely come across these little pests. Mealybugs on succulents are very common, especially indoors. Although I have found them to be just as much of a problem outdoors.
So continue reading to learn how to identity and kill them.
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I love succulent plants. I love making arrangements, I love growing my own collection, propagating, and sharing cuttings.
But what I do not love is dealing with the mealybugs.
In fact, there have been a few times when the mealybug infestation was so bad I just threw out the entire plant because I didn’t want to deal with it.
But that is never a good situation. So in this article I’ll go over my process of effectively getting rid of these common pests.
How to Kill Mealybugs on Succulents
Once you spot these pests it is crucial to act quick and take the following steps.
First, if possible, you should move the infected plant away from any others until the mealy bugs are gone.
Second, if the plant is extremely infested, take the garden hose and with a strong stream of water spray off all of the bugs.
Third, put 70% isopropyl alcohol in a spray bottle and spray down the entire plant. This should kill any remaining bugs.
If there are only a few bugs you can also use a cotton swab and dab on the rubbing alcohol to specific areas.
The rubbing alcohol is a great solution because it won’t damage or burn the succulent like some insecticides often will, and it is effective in killing the pests.
After spraying down the plant with the alcohol, check back on it each day and if you notice even just one mealybug, spray it again.
Repeat the treatment until your mealybug problem is completely gone.
If the plant was really infested you may even want to spray down the soil as well in case there were any eggs laid or bugs hiding out that didn’t initially get hit.
Other Treatments to Get Rid of Mealybugs
If you don’t have alcohol you can use a mixture of dish soap and water. This is not harmful to the succulent but it is not always quite as effective.
You can also use a diluted solution of water and neem oil.
I’ve used neem oil in the past and it has worked well but if it’s not diluted enough it has burned my succulents.
There are also insecticidal soaps you can buy that work well, but if they are used in excess or are too strong they may damage your plants.
So to be safe, my favorite and most effective treatment for killing mealybugs on succulents has been to spray the plant with 70% isopropyl alcohol.
What Are Mealybugs
They are insects that usually appear in a white cotton looking substance on the leaves and stems of your plants.
Mealybugs enjoy warm and moist climates so they are common indoors and in greenhouses, but they can also be found on your succulents outside.
They typically like to hide out most near the stem where the succulent leaves attach, but as they populate you will begin to see them more clearly all over the plant.
Tips for Keeping Your Succulents Healthy
1.) Make sure you plant your succulents in a well draining soil made specifically for succulents.
Try making your own homemade succulent soil or try out this Bonsai Jack Succulent Soil Mix.
2.) Make sure the pot has a drainage hole. One of the most common problems with succulents is overwatering and roots rotting. So if your pot doesn’t have a drainage hole you can easily drill your own.
3.) Don’t overwater. Succulents can almost always make a comeback if they’ve been underwatered. But it’s almost impossible to save them if you’ve overwatered.
Check out this great article from Succulents and Sunshine to learn how to correctly water.
If you have any more questions about succulents feel free to ask in the comments below. I’d love to help out!
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My succulent is over grown. Can I cut some off and place in water to start roots for a new plant?
No, don’t cut them off and stick them in water. This could cause the new cuttings to rot, however, you can clip them off and stick them in a well-draining succulent soil mix and they will start growing roots.
Be sure to let the new clippings sit in the soil for about 2 weeks before watering and then water about once a week. Before long if you gently tug on the clippings you’ll feel that roots have started to form keeping them in the soil.
What does a mealy bug look like
I had the same question as Kerri & very much appreciated your answer. Just taking it a little further, I have some rosettes that have formed long, hairy snaking stems that I want to bring indoors. Can I lop off the terminal rosette with a length (how much) to replant as you recommended? And how about cutting the rest of the stem into segments to repot? I know some plants can be propagated by laying them in a pan covered horizontally and others stuck into soil vertically. What do you think?