Aphids on Succulents and How To Treat Them

Aphids are a well-known annoyance for all gardeners. They tend to invade your flower beds and veggies and they do not hesitate to attack even the potted plants. Succulent plants are particularly tempting to these pests because of their flashy leaves. The presence of Aphids on Succulents can pose an even greater danger when the plant is in bloom.

If you are curious about how to recognize them, why they are dangerous to your plants, and how to get rid of them, keep reading, and you’ll find a suitable solution for your infested succulents.

What are Aphids?

How to get rid of Aphids on Succulents

Aphids are tiny, tear-shaped insects with long antennas, and their color may vary from white to black, but they are usually light green.

Sometimes, they are covered with wooly coats; sometimes, they have waxy surfaces. If the infestation is heavy and insects are too dense, some of them might develop wings, to fly away to another plant and source of food.

How Aphids can harm your Succulent Plant

Nymphs that look much like grown-up insects and adult aphids feed on plants’ sap, sticking their sharp mouth parts in juicy plants.

Shrivelign, stunted and misshapen leaves

Since aphids feed on plants’ juices, leaves might become yellow, curled, deformed, and stop growing.

Deformed flowers

Flowering succulents particularly attract aphids. They love to feed on their flowers so that any unusual growth can be a sign of their infestation. Make sure to check every part of the flower as they easily hide inside.

Sticky residue

Aphids produce sticky matter called honeydew that can attract ants. Honeydew is also a great base for sooty mold – a fungal disease that covers leaves and branches with black coating and prevents photosynthesis. It will lead to stunted growth and eventually plants’ death.

Galls on leaves and roots

Galls on Succulents

Some species build galls – round, hollow formations where aphids can survive for months. Plants’ parts with galls become deformed and distorted once the galls open.

Virus infections

Aphids can transmit viruses from one plant to other. As a result, leaves can display yellow patches, and new growth will be red and stunted.

If you’re interested in learning more about other common plant pests, check out our article on mealybugs and how to control them.

How To Get Rid Of Aphids

You can get rid of these insects in several ways, including manual removal, using natural products, biological methods, and chemical insecticides.

If you notice an infestation, and it’s not yet heavy, you can try less aggressive methods, and if they don’t work, you’ll need to use chemical insecticides.

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Manual removing

If you notice just a couple of insects, you can try to take them off one by one by hand and then destroy them. It can be very time-consuming, you will likely miss some, and this method doesn’t kill eggs.

Spraying with water

You can use a spray bottle filled with water and treat your plant repeatedly. It can be effective with a small infestation, but some insects might stay on plants or soil. This method can also be impractical, as the succulents don’t like humid environments, and you can easily damage tender new growth.

Stinging nettle broth

If you have a field or wood near your place, you can pick some stinging nettle leaves (wear gloves!) You will need 100-200 g of nettle leaves for the broth. Soak them in 1 liter of water for two days and spray on infected plants directly. You’ll probably need to repeat the process 2-3 times.

Bracken broth

This fern has a similar effect to the stinging nettle. Take around 60 g of leaves and mix them with 10 liters of water. It’s a great repellent and high in potassium and will serve as a fertilizer.

Black tea

Soak two bags of black tea in 1 liter of boiling water for 20 minutes for this remedy. Let it cool down, and spray your plants.

Garlic tea

Boil 50 g of garlic cloves in 5 liters of water and let it steep for 3 hours. You can use this mixture to spray your plant every ten days.

Another way to use garlic is to put small pieces into the soil around the plant. The smell of garlic would deter aphids, but it won’t work if they’re already infested plants.

Soft soap remedy

Soft soap is one of the most common home remedies for aphids. It doesn’t contain fragrances and other harsh chemicals, so it’s perfectly safe for plants. 

Dissolve 50 g of soft soap in 1 l of water to combat aphids and spray plants. To increase the effectiveness in cases of heavy infestations, you can add two teaspoons of ethyl alcohol.

Alcohol

To make an insecticidal spray, mix equal parts of water and alcohol. You should use 70% ethanol without any added chemicals. Spray only on affected parts of the plants.

Another way to use alcohol to combat aphids is to wipe infested leaves with cotton pads soaked in rubbing alcohol.

Horticultural oils

Horticultural oils and Neem oil can kill aphids closing their breathing paths. They can also serve to kill aphids’ eggs. Mix equal parts of oil and water and spray your plants for that purpose. The best time for this action is early morning before the weather becomes too hot.

Insecticidal soap

Insecticidal soaps contain potassium salts that kill aphids efficiently. Spray it directly on the insects; in 24 hours, all aphids should die.

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Diatomaceous earth

To kill aphids, you can put small amounts of diatomaceous earth in the potting mix. It will kill insects when ingested by dehydrating them.

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Companion planting

Several plants repel aphids or act as a magnet to them, and that way, aphids would leave your succulents.

Some of those plants are:

Beneficial insects

Ladybug eating Aphids on a plant

The biggest natural enemies of aphids are ladybugs. One ladybug can eat hundreds of aphids.

If your succulents are outdoors, consider attracting lacewings and parasitic wasps to your garden.

Organic pyrethrum pesticide

This pesticide is highly effective in cases of full-blown infestations. It kills all insects, including beneficial ones, so you should use it only when it’s absolutely necessary. The good news is that it breaks fast, so you can isolate treated plants to protect other insects.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is the best solution to kill aphids?

The best solution depends on how heavy the infestation is. If you want to be sure you destroyed all insects, use organic pyrethrum pesticide, which is highly effective, and doesn’t stay long on the plant or soil.

Does vinegar kill aphids on succulent plants?

Vinegar does not kill aphids, it can wash them down the plant, but in most cases, insects will stay alive (although they wouldn’t find their way back onto the plant.) Another downside of vinegar is that it’s acidic and could damage plants and change soil pH.

Does dishwashing soap kill aphids?

Dishwashing soap can kill aphids by closing their breathing paths and suffocating them. However, If the infestation is heavy, it wouldn’t be sufficient.

What is the best natural defense to kill aphids?

The best natural defense is introducing natural predators. Ladybugs are especially efficient in getting rid of aphids, and you can order them from gardening centers.