Succulents as we know are plants that are drought resistant as they have fleshy stem and leaves. Succulents require care and nurturing which is different from that of other plants. They are sun loving plants but too much of sun can cause sunburn. Too much of water also can lead them to rot, so they require all the natural elements in a moderate amount.
Every gardener’s worst nightmare is pests. Pests are of many varieties; they attack our beloved plants and can destroy it in manner of days if not taken care of. Succulents are not an exception, like other plants they also are susceptible to diseases and pests.
Among all the pests that exist we can say that spider mites on succulents are the absolute worst. They can multiply very fastly and can destroy the whole plant in a manner of few days. Let’s get to know more about spider mites and how they infect succulents and how to save the plant?
Spider mites, what are they?
Spider mites are a type of pest that infects our plants. Spider mites are of small size less than 1mm and vary in color. They live on the underside of the leaves of plants. They got the name as they spin a silk web which helps to protect the colony from predators.
They can feed on more than several hundred of plants species. They cause damage to the plant by piercing the plant cell and feeding on the contents. This results in the plant leaves having tiny yellow or white speckles and eventually causing the leaf to drop. If a plant is heavily infested this can result in stunt growth and may eventually kill the plant.
These mites are difficult to see with naked eye. The adult female mite can lay eggs on the plants and this can hatch in days to weeks. They can multiply and infect the host plant in an accelerating pace, soon the whole plant would be covered in mites.
From Where Do Spider mites come?
Spider mites are tiny insects that can come from anywhere. Some common ways they enter our plants are
- Using unsterile soils
- Moving plants outside in summer time
- They can come into the house through the screens from our garden as they are very tiny
- Buying plants that contain mites from garden center
Spider Mites Symptoms
The first step towards growing healthy succulents is to monitor them vigilantly for any changes or discolorations. Now spider mites as mentioned earlier are tiny creatures that destroy the plants by puncturing the plant cells and drinking the juice. So these tiny creatures are hard to spot usually they hide under the leaves and we only notice them when our plant growth stunts. So how to notice these creatures below are some signs that indicate that spider mites have invaded your precious succulent
- Check under the leaves once a week to spot tiny red or brown or yellow dots
- Small white spots or holes on the underside of leaves
- If infestation is aggravated then the leaves will turn from white to yellow to brown and finally fall off
- Another most important way to spot spider mites is by looking out for the silk webs mainly on new growth or leaves.
How to get rid of spider mites on succulents?
If you got mites infestation it’s not easy to save your plants, it will take a lot of hard work to get rid of these pests as they can hide in the smallest little nook and infest the whole plant within days.
Whatever treatment we are doing for these mite we have to repeat the process for many time to get the end result.
The first and foremost treatment after diagnosis is isolating the infected plant. After isolation we can start the treatment on the infected and start preventive measures for other plants. If one plant in the garden is infected be sure that it can spread to other plants. Now we have to follow the below steps to treat the infestation.
Method #1 – Pruning
pruning the leaves help control the infestation. If you notice the plant being infested with mites the first step after isolation is to prune the affected areas that are not salvageable. This helps to control the infestation to a extent. Throw away the pruned stem or leaves away from your another plants or burn them off. If the infestation is very high then it is best to just throw the whole plant away than keep it and spread the infestation.
method #2 – Flush with water
The best way to treat the spider mites is to isolate it and flush down the whole plant with water. If possible spray them with water at high pressure. The high pressure water spray will surely dislodge the spider mites from your plants. Be sure to give a through wash with water even under the leaves as it is the most common place they hide.
method #3 – Using organic insecticides
Neem is one of the best among many types of organic pesticides found in nature. It is a widely used bio pesticides. In organic farming the use of neem oil to control pest is increasing. Neem oil has a strong smell which repels most of the pests. Neem oil is safe to use as it does not have any effect on humans, birds or other animals. Neem oil is obtained from the seed of neem tree. As it is a oil its not easy to spray on to plants due to its sticky nature so the best solution to use it as spray is to mix it with a mild soap solution. To make a spray of neem oil mix 11/2 tea spoon neem oil concentrate with 1 table spoon of liquid soap or dish wash then mix them well in 1 litre of water. Now your neem oil spray is ready for use.
To get the best effect from mites continuously use the spray for a week time.
Method #4 – Insecticidal soap
This might not be as effective as the neem oil spray but it can get rid of small infestation of mites from your plant and don’t cause damage to your plant also. This is not harmful to humans or other organisms as it doesn’t contain any artificial insecticides. To prepare an insecticidal soap spray mix 1 table spoon of dish washing soap in 1 litre of water. Fill up your spray bottle and spray every nook and corner of your plant to get rid of the tiny creatures.
Method #5 – Lemon water sprays
This is another method that can be used to repel the spider mites away and not cause damage to your plants. To prepare this simply squeeze out half a lemon and mix it in 1 litre of water (remember the lemon to water ratio should be 2:3). Mix it well and spray the plant completely.
Method #6 – Increase humidity
spider mites as we said thrives in dry climate so another best way to deter the mite attack is to keep the humidity high around the plant or to mist the plant on a regular basis.
Method #7 – Alcohol spray
This is one of the best and most result obtained method to get rid of spider mites. This spray kills the spider mites and doesn’t damage the plants as the alcohol evaporates. The ratio to mix water and alcohol is 1:1. Some suggest even to spray the alcohol directly onto the plant, but as I don’t have the heart to do that I always mix it with water to dilute the concentration and then spray it onto the plants. You can also mix a small amount of dish soap to increase the output of the spray.
Method #8 – Natural predators
If you are able to stand insects then its best to use natural predators to mange spider mites and other pests. They are the safe way both for our plants and us. May be its not wise to use predators for house plants.
Some popular predators are:
- Lady bugs – These cute small bugs are a boon in any garden. They devour most pests like mites, aphids and scale. They are attracted to pollen and pest. So by planting flowering plants like chives, cilantro, marigold, calendula etc. we can attract the ladybugs.
- Lacewings – they are natural predators of mealy bugs, mites, whiteflies and thrips. They feed on insect larve, pollen and plant nectars. By not using chemical insecticides we can increase the lace wing count in our garden.
- Pirate bugs – These black or dark purple small creatures help rid our garden of many pests like aphids, mites and thirps. They also feed on the tender plant leaves but the damage they cause is small compared to the damage done by pests. By planting a selection of plants we can attract these creatures. Plants like marigold, cosmos, spearmint and fennel attract them.
- Predatory Thirps – They eat pests like mites, lace bugs, whiteflies and scale insects. They are normally found on ornamental or fruit bearing trees and vegetables.
Like this many other natural predators are there that helps keep our plants healthy and rid garden of the pest that destroys our plants. By stopping the use of chemical insecticides we can promote the growth of natural predators and also planting more nectar producing plants help in promoting their increase in number.
Method #9 – Using artificial insecticides
There are many man made chemical pesticides that help to destroy the pest in our garden. But we need to be careful while using these and take cautions before the use. It is always best to read the instructions given before using these chemical pesticides. Some insecticides are imidacloprid or acephate these help control the spider mite infestation. Always be cautious while using these products as they can affect us also.
Method #9 – Mouthwash
This is my personal favorite method to get rid of spider mites and also the most effective in my experience. I have personally used it on my plants for spider mite attack and found it most effective. This spray completely destroys the spider mites in few days. We can see the effect of this from the first day itself. The spray shows effect as it contain alcohol , so by mixing 2 part mouthwash with 1 table spoon dish wash in 1 litre of water we can create a marvelous concussion that gives a magnificent result. Like all other spray we need to spray it continuously for few days to get the best results.
How to prevent spider mites in the first place
Some preventive steps to reduce mite infestation is to
- Always isolate new plants
- Give newly procured plants a thorough wash with water
- Spray with bio pesticides
- Spray bio pesticides on all our garden plants in a regular basis
There are many pest that exist in nature some are a boon some are a curse. They destroy our favorite and precious plants by stunting their growth; some like the spider mites can kill the plants by sucking the plant juice out through the plant cells.
To keep your garden free from pests it’s always a good practice to increase the humidity by spraying or hosing them down once in a while with water. Another best method is to use bio pesticides that are deadly to pests but delicate on our plants. Neem oil is one of the best bio pesticides that are offered by Mother Nature herself.
It’s always a good option to go for natural ways to free our garden from pest than to take artificial methods. Chemical pesticides should never be used as they can deter the coming of butterflies, birds and other natural predators that help fight pests.