Succulents are a group of plants that produce thick, fleshy leaves and stems. These plants, which include cactus, are highly drought-resistant because their fleshy leaves and stems act as water storage organs. Though succulents can survive long periods with little or no water, they may still fall prey to a variety of insect pests. Rather than treating your succulents with chemical-based insecticides, try a natural remedy such as garlic bug spray to ward off insect pests.
Succulents are bothered less frequently by insect pests than other houseplants, but certain pests have been known to affect succulents from time to time. Spider mites, for example, sometimes attack succulents and build fine white webs over the affected portion of the plant. These pests multiply rapidly and may damage the skin of the plant by piercing it to suck the sap. Scale insects such as mealybugs typically attack leaf cacti, Pereskias and Agaves. These insects lay their eggs in sacks on the leaves of succulent plants and suck the sap, weakening the plant often to the point of death. Other insect pests likely to attack succulents are root mealybugs, aphids, white flies and fungus gnats.
Garlic bug sprays are effective against a variety of insect pests including aphids, white flies and mites. To create your own garlic spray, combine 3 ounces (85 gr) of minced garlic with 1 ounce (30 ml) of mineral oil. To increase the efficacy of the mixture, let it steep for 24 hours or longer, then strain out the minced garlic. If you want to further increase the potency of your homemade bug spray, try mixing the garlic oil with 1 teaspoon (5 ml) of fish emulsion diluted in 16 ounces (473 ml) of water. Once you have finished mixing your garlic bug spray, store it in a tightly sealed glass jar for up to 2 months.
How to Use
To utilize your homemade garlic spray, combine 2 tablespoons (30 ml) of the garlic mixture with 1 pint (473 ml) of water. The easiest method to apply the spray is to pour the liquid into a handheld spray bottle and spray the mixture liberally over your succulent plants. Spray the underside of the leaves as well as the tops so the entire plant is protected. To prevent phytotoxic burn, a condition resulting from the toxicity of insecticide sprays, avoid spraying your plants when the temperature is greater then 80 degrees Fahrenheit (27 degrees Celsius).
To prevent an infestation of insect pests on your succulent plants, check them frequently and take action quickly if you discover a budding infestation. If you only see a few insects, pick them off by hand and drop them into a cup of soapy water to kill them. Infestations of mealybugs and aphids can be prevented by wiping down the plants with an alcohol-soaked cotton swab once in a while.
- Succulentopedia: Browse succulents by Scientific Name, Common Name, Genus, Family, USDA Hardiness Zone, Origin, or cacti by Genus
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