Aphids are tiny, soft-bodied insects that feed on the juice of plants. They can be found on indoor and outdoor plants but more often invade your succulents and cacti than other houseplants.
Aphids leave behind a sticky residue called honeydew as they eat, which attracts ants and makes it harder for plants to absorb water.
It also attracts sooty mold fungi that can rot your plant if left untreated. Luckily, many safe options are available when trying to get rid of aphids from succulents.
Look For Signs of Aphid Infestation.
Look for signs of aphid infestation. The first sign of an aphid problem is usually white, cottony growth on the leaves and stems of your succulent.
This is called honeydew, a byproduct of the sap that aphids feed on when they’re sucking from your plant.
You may also notice yellowing foliage or even dead leaves near where you see the honeydew.
This can happen if the sap has been completely drained from leaf cells due to the excessive feeding by these pests.
Isolate Affected Plants.
If you have a lot of succulents, you may want to isolate only some of the plants affected by aphids.
But if your succulent collection is small and compact, it’s quite easy to separate them from one another so that only the pest-riddled ones are removed from their pots.
Place an infected plant into a water bucket and ensure it stays moist during its quarantine period. If the plant has no drainage hole at the bottom, don’t worry.
You can add rocks or something similar to weigh down your sickly specimen while it receives treatment.
Alternatively, put them in a greenhouse where they won’t be exposed to other plants or insects that could spread the pests further through your collection.
Squashing The Aphids
To remove aphids from succulents, you need to use a paintbrush like a broom.
Clean up the aphids as if you were sweeping them off your plant (their bodies are very soft and fragile).
If there’s one or two, don’t worry about it—they will likely die soon on their own. However, if there are more than that, the best thing to do is get rid of them immediately.
If you use your fingers instead of a paintbrush, ensure they are clean and dry before doing so.
After removing them manually using these methods, wash yourself and anything else that may have come into contact with insects (such as clothing) thoroughly.
Hence, no traces remain behind when dealing with future infestations.
This will help prevent residue on your hands and keep everything sanitary in case any bugs decide they want to move onto other plants in your home.
Spray Plants with Water.
If you have a hose available, spray the plants with water. This can be done daily if necessary but should be used sparingly as it could damage your succulent plant’s roots.
You may also use a spray bottle for this purpose, though make sure that you don’t get too close to the plant with the stream of water so that it doesn’t hit any other part of its body besides the insect (this would cause damage).
It is recommended that you use tap water at room temperature—water from outside sources can contain chemicals or bacteria which could harm your plants.
Use a fine mist or coarse mist setting on your spray bottle, depending on how much coverage you want.
This will help keep things consistent throughout your garden and prevent any stray insects from getting away.
Use A Systemic Pesticide If Needed.
If you’re dealing with many aphids or have tried the natural methods above and still aren’t getting rid of them, you may need to use a systemic pesticide.
These are absorbed by the plant and distributed throughout its tissues.
This makes them more effective than contact pesticides, which only kill insects that directly come in contact with them.
They can also be less harmful to beneficial insects like ladybugs, but they’re more likely to harm beneficial insects than contact pesticides are.
Systemic insecticides are toxic to humans and animals because they enter through plants’ roots, leaves, and stems, making it easy for pests like aphids to transfer from one plant to another and exposing anything that eats something from those plants (like us).
Predatory Bugs Are Also Helpful.
If you have a bunch of aphids, you can also find add predatory bugs that prey on them. These are:
- Aphid lions
Kill Aphids on Succulents with Soap
You can also use soap to control aphids on your succulents. This is a safer alternative to pesticides that won’t harm the plants or the soil.
To apply soap:
- Mix up about one part of liquid dishwashing detergent with two parts of water in a spray bottle.
- Spray it liberally onto the plant’s leaves and stems, focusing mainly on areas where you see aphids congregating.
- Reapply every couple of days until all of the insects are gone.
Killing Aphids with Alcohol
If you have a large infestation, you will need to use rubbing alcohol similarly. Mix 50/50 water and alcohol in a spray bottle and apply it to the succulents, just like dish soap.
You can add some essential oils like peppermint or tea tree oil for extra potency against aphids. Repeat this process until all of the aphids are gone from your plant.
Diatomaceous Earth for Repelling Aphids
Diatomaceous Earth (DE) is a natural pesticide that keeps pests away from your succulents. It’s made from fossilized diatoms and microscopic sea creatures’ skeletons.
DE is a fine powder that looks like talcum powder and contains sharp edges when broken down into smaller pieces.
When applied to plants, these sharp edges cut through an insect’s exoskeleton, causing them to dry out and die within days or weeks after exposure.
In addition to being an excellent pest deterrent for aphids, DE works well against scale insects, mealybugs, and thrips—all common for succulents.
The best way to apply it? You can use a small hand duster or sprinkle it directly on top of your plants just before watering them.
This way, you don’t have to worry about washing it off later on down the road (which could potentially harm your plant).
One way to naturally keep pests away from your succulents is through companion planting.
Companion planting is a technique that employs certain plants, like marigolds, to lure certain pests away from other plants.
The beauty of this method is that the beneficial insects stay in your garden and don’t fly off into the rest of your yard and cause problems there.
For example, planting marigolds around your houseplants or succulents will attract ladybugs (a natural pest control).
They will eat aphids, and many other bugs attracted to your home. Marigolds are also attractive to bees which pollinate all kinds of flowers, including those grown indoors.
Removing aphids from your succulents is a simple process, but it’s important to be careful when handling them.
Always use gloves or tongs when handling plants, as some species of aphids are poisonous and can harm humans.
You should also ensure you sanitize your tools between uses, so they don’t spread harmful bacteria from one plant to another.
Take a closer look at the insect itself before attempting removal—if you spot eggs or larvae attached to leaves or stems, do not try removing them with your hands, as they may hatch into new pests that will infest other parts of the succulent later on.
Instead, contact an expert to find out what type of pest has taken over and advise accordingly.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Can succulents survive without soil?
Yes, succulents can survive without soil. Cactus, succulents, and trees do not require soil to grow. Succulents are one of the many plants that can live in a non-soil environment. They are best grown in porous pots.
Is it ok to leave succulents in the rain?
Yes, as long as the plant is not in a plastic pot. If in plastic, the plant will soak up the water and rot. If it’s in the soil, the plant will be fine.