What Is White Fuzz on Succulents
Have you ever come across a white cottony substance on your lovely succulents now and then? They seem to appear out of nowhere, without actually any cause… you see them either around the succulent stem or in between the pallets. They are actually a parasite called Mealybugs; they first appear on the stem of your plant right in the middle of the base and slowly destroy your plant.
After that, you will notice your succulent start to get dry or weird-shaped leaves will grow. If anything funky starts to happen to your lovely succulent, It might be an excellent idea to check your plant; even though it looks healthy, Mealybugs might be on a mission to destroy it. Mealybugs affect all plants, from fuzzy bunny ears succulents to modern-looking dolphin succulents and even premium rose succulents.
Effects of Mealybugs on Succulents
Expectedly from a parasite, Mealybugs will feast on your succulent leaves. You may end up having dried leaves and weird-shaped leaves, losing your flower buds prematurely, having necrosis of stems and roots, being open to the transmission of viruses, have wounds in tissues that are infested by bacteria and/or pathogenic fungi and lastly, killing your plants. Let’s not talk about bad, really bad scenarios.
Types of White Fuzz on Succulents
After some time, your succulent leaves turn into more pastel colors from bright green. You can see it pretty clear if you are growing bushy Haworthia succulent. This is called Epicuticular wax that coats the surface of the leaves. To understand if it is Epicutilar wax or something else is to check the uniformity of the coating. If it is uniform, then it is most probably wax.
This is actually a fungal disease that looks so similar to the investion of mealybugs. It is usually white, but it can also be brown or yellowish. Unlike regular epicuticular wax, though, it does not spread evenly on the leaves. It seems not to hurt your plant a lot, but it will cause your plant to lose nutrients and that will cause your plant to die in the long term.
These are basically tiny insects, well flies, that you can find around your succulents. They reproduce so fast that you need to act fast as soon as you notice them. Their eggs seem brown-yellowish. They are responsible for dark mold to appear. If you ever notice a sticky substance on your plant, you probably have a fly investion.
These are the worst type of parasites that kill your succulents. They feast on your plant’s leaves. They are tiny and if you are not giving enough attention, very hard to locate.
Methods to Prevent a Mealybug Infection
Water Your Succulent Moderately
Succulent being a cactus-like plant, actually don’t need a lot of water to survive and very low maintenance. However, with this being said, mealybugs love water so to keep them away, get a little slower on watering.
Keep Your Succulents’ Environment Clean
Any plant will appreciate cleanness. But, when it comes to succulents, they really appreciate clean water and a clean environment.
Succulents don’t actually need fertilizer to survive, so overly fertilizing your plant actually causes pests to appear more.
Methods to Treat Mealybugs Infection
Solution of Isopropyl Alcohol
You can use isopropyl alcohol on your succulents. Basically, prepare %70 alcohol and spray it all over your plant. Within a couple of minutes, your plants will be bug-free.
This is basically a very effective ecological insecticide.
Solution of Potassium Soap
The soap is obtainable in the supermarket. The soap is completely ecological and harmless to your plants as well as you and your pets. Just foam it like a normal soap with water and rub your plants with it.
Water is amazing at getting rid of bugs. It sounds funny, but a little bit of mechanical power really works well. If you are worried about putting chemicals on your plants, you may try spraying some water at the bugs. You really need to squirt the water fast to get those sticky bugs. Keep in mind that mealybugs can survive underwater, so water treatment is only removing them. Not actually killing them.
Especially the pure one is a very effective insecticide. It is completely natural, ecological and won’t hurt your plants or your pets. Neem oil is a strong antiseptic, antifungal and anti-insect. It needs to be diluted before using and you can find directions on the bottle or online.
This is simply the commercial version of the neem oil. Azamax is safe to use on your plants and you won’t need to worry about your application or dilute it. It is effective and harmless.
You can find both commercial soaps and home remedies for this. To make it, you can make a %2 solution from liquid soap. Don’t use dish soaps or detergents. You can spray it to your plant and keep going every day until the bugs completely go away. Don’t leave the plant directly under sunlight to prevent burns.
Ladybugs! Yes, ladybugs! They are not only so cute looking but also the number one enemy of mealybugs. However, you can have them through amazon and they will fight perfectly with your little mealybug problem.
How to Detect Mealybug in Your Succulents
First, we need to know where to look before it is too late. But, don’t worry; most of the time, with a little support, succulents are amazing at recovering from these parasites. So here is a step-by-step guide about how to detect mealybugs:
Step 1 – Detect white web substance
Look for a cotton-like white web substance primarily at the very base of your succulent. Depending on the type of plant, it might be harder for you to detect it because of the sequence of the leaves. If that’s the case, you can directly look at the root.
Step 2 – Check for mealybugs
If you find any white cotton, it is most likely you have mealybugs. If they are already adults, you may notice 4-5mm large white-beige colored bugs around the white cottony substance. If they are not adults yet, it’s tough for you to see them since they are so small.
Most often the time bugs are really hard to see. So you better look for different signs of dying succulents, such as weirdly shaped leaves and dried ends.
How to Eliminate Cotton Mealybug on Succulents
Don’t worry if you came across one of these nasty bugs on your succulent. There are many effective ways to eliminate them. Let’s get started.
Step 1 – Check the leaves and stems
Take a good look on and around the leaves and stems of your succulents. Mealybugs can be very good at hiding and they are definitely very good at spreading.
Step 2 – Quarantine infected plants
After you understand which plants are affected by the investigation, then you can quarantine them. One thing we all learned from 2020-2021 so far: You don’t want sick ones to be around and make everyone sick. So social distance for plants.
Step 3 – Minimize watering
Mealybugs LOVE moist areas. So even minimizing the watering time as much as possible will drastically affect the mealybugs (obviously, don’t leave your plants starving on water).
Step 4 – Apply a treatment plan to your invested plants
Any treatment plan that you find effective or like doing is completely fine as soon as you take care of your plants and kill mealybugs.
EXTRA STEP: Always check for mealybugs if you are bringing another new plant into the pile. We often get infected by pests when we are bringing in new members.
How to Eliminate Cotton Mealybug With Isopropyl Alcohol
We don’t care that you weren’t great at chemistry in high school. We are not professionals either. Isopropyl is so easy to obtain and easy to use. Your succulents will love you once you start using it. It is truly a life-saver.
Step 1 – Obtain isopropyl
Since the chemical can be obtained easily from the market, it wouldn’t be hard, but if you obtain %100 isopropyl, you need to dilute it to %70. To do so, mix it with water.
Step 2 – Spray your whole plant
If your succulent has dense leaves, you may want to take special care of those since the bugs might be hiding in there.
Step 3 – Alcohol will evaporate soonly after you apply it
So don’t even worry about it. You will be able to see the white substance disappear and bugs will be dead. Don’t leave your succulent under sunlight so much at this moment as the sun exposure can cause burns together with alcohol.
Step 4 – Give your succulent a rough wash to wash off the dead bugs
Check on your succulents regularly to see if you removed all the bugs and any others left. If so, treat your succulent with alcohol once again. If you are unsure whether or not if alcohol burns your succulents, you can start the alcohol treatment with %50 isopropyl.
Do’s and Don’ts When Treating Mealybug Infection
- Check your plants regularly
- Exposing your succulents to light
- Testing soil before using fertilizer
- Get affordable succulent grow lights to prevent sun damage
- Over water your succulents
- Over fertilize your succulents
- Bring new plants in the pack without looking for mealybugs
FAQ About White Fuzz on Succulents
Why does my succulent have white fuzz?
Your lovely succulent might have Mealybugs. That’s the number one thing to be concerned about, but also it can be natural such as some Echeveria can grow white hair.
Will vinegar kill mealybugs?
It actually does kill them, but you will need to apply a lot of it. Make sure that it’s pure and not diluted. Water will weaken the vinegar and will make it harder to kill the bugs.
What is the best way to get rid of mealybugs?
So far, the best remedy you can do for mealybugs is %70 isopropyl alcohol. It is easy, effective and cheap.
Will dish soap kill mealybugs?
The answer is maybe …. Yeah… possible. But the important thing here is that can you apply that to your plant? BIG NO! Dish soap is harmful to succulents; it will burn their leaves and cause them to dry up. So NO.
Can mealybugs infest your house?
Well, they are parasites for many plants, so if you have several plants in your home, they certainly can. Not like they will infest your “house” like ants or something, but they will surely attack all of your plants.
Are mealybugs dangerous for me or my pets?
The bugs will not bother your pets. However, keep in mind that some commercial chemicals can harm your pets, so better play safe and take care of your bug problem away from your pets. Also, apart from mealybugs, certain succulents can threaten your pet’s health; you need to do proper research about your plant friends, considering your animal friends.
Succulents are easy to maintain and the world’s best cacti for beginners (well, not all succulents are cacti but whatever). One of the worst enemies of succulents is mealybugs, but they are actually very easy to prevent and get rid of. You can understand them with the white-fuzzy substance on your succulents and with the help of a couple of homemade remedies, you can save your succulents and make them as healthy as before.
Photos from: sweemingyoung / depositphotos.com, IgorVetushko / depositphotos.com, nopparatz / depositphotos.com and Photofollies / depositphotos.com.