No one wants to witness their beloved succulents deal with annoying pests or fungal diseases. But unfortunately succulents do develop issues from time to time and we need to be equipped to get them through the tough times as quickly as possible. This guide will list out some of the most common pests and diseases faced by succulents and cacti as well as how to treat them.
Mealybugs on the stem of a plant. Photo via Planet Natural
Mealybugs are the tiny fuzzy white substances you see crawling on the stems of your plant. If left ignored, the mealybugs can spread and affect many different parts of the plant, causing it to slowly wither and eventually die. Mealybugs are one of the most common pest problems for succulents and a stubborn one that requires a long and thorough fight to get rid of them. You should get alert when ants start crowding your plant area as ants like the sweet water discharged by mealybugs. Another sign of your plants being infected is when they start looking unhealthy for no obvious reason (with adequate light and water). To avoid this mealybugs issue, keep your plant area dry, clean, and free of rotting leaves or flowers.
Treatment of Mealybugs
If you grow your succulents outdoors, you should worry about the possibility of rodents attacking your plants. Mice tend to take a bite out of your succulents or break them into small pieces. As a result, your plants can be mangled and disfigured after one night serving as food for mice.
How to get rid of mice
You can set up mouse traps near the walls of your garden. There are various options to choose from: live traps that catch the rats alive, conventional traps that kill the rats, or some poisonous baits. You can also use some wire mesh to cover your succulents if you don’t want to use lethal methods to keep rodents away, though it’s not the best in terms of the aesthetic aspect. Bringing a cat into the scene might also be an effective way to scare off rats.
Photo via israel21c.org
Red spider mites are tiny red mites that leave a silky web that looks like a spider web on the plants. The spider mites are extremely tiny and you might even need a magnifying glass to be able to see them. You need to verify whether the web you see on your plants belongs to a real spider or red spider mites. If it is from spider mites, you will notice the appearance of brown spots on the plants and the new growth also turning brown. If left ignored, red spider mites will continue to eat the entire outer layer of your succulents, after this point it might be hard for the plants to survive.
Treatment of Red Spider Mites
Scales refer to species of insects that look like flat or slightly mounded waxy, brown scales on the leaves and stems of the plant. The insects hide under the protective scale feeds on the plant sap and can transmit virus diseases to other plants. The protective covering strongly attaches to the plant tissue so it can leave a scar behind when you remove a scale insect from the plant. Scale insects reproduce rapidly and can cover the entire surface of a succulent in a couple of days, especially on the new growth parts of the plant.
Scale insects on succulents. Photo via Sublime Succulents
Treatment of Scale
Snails can be found on the side of your plant containers or hidden under a fleshy succulent or even spiky cacti. They can be quite destructive if they come in large numbers to eat the flower buds, ingest the tender new growth of your plants or scrape off large chunks of tissue from the plant body. It is easy to detect if snails have visited your garden last night: once the snails move past your plants, they leave a slime trail behind, which dries out and glitters when seen in daylight.
Photo Credit: debraleebaldwin.com
Treatment of Snails
Aphids are those species of greenfly and blackfly that can reproduce very quickly and commonly seen on garden plants. They feed on the plant sap and produce sweet honeydew which might encourage black mould. Aphids are often found on the flowers, flower buds, and tender new growth of succulents and cacti. You should worry about aphids affecting your succulents when ants start crowding your plant area.
Black aphids on a Coral aloe flower. Photo via Succulents and More
Treatment of Aphids
You can easily get rid of aphids by using a high-pressure garden hose a couple times. Be careful not to damage your plants while you do it. If the aphid problem continues, try spraying the plants with soapy water or a systemic insecticide. Repeated treatments may be necessary for several days to eliminate any survivors.
For succulents and cacti, cold or damp conditions caused by a fungal attack or overwatering may cause rotting of roots and stems. When there is a high level of moisture in the growing environment of the plants, rot is likely to occur because bacteria and fungi develop vigorously in this type of condition. The rotten tissues tend to turn red, brown, or black. The parts that have gone rotten are usually soggy, slimy, and emit a bad odor. Rot usually starts from the root up, thus when you notice any obvious changes on the plant, there is probably no way to save it.
A rotten Echeveria. Photo via Garden Answers
Control of Rot