Ultimate Guide: How to fight succulents Diseases and Pests

It is important to fight pests and diseases as soon as you see or experience them. The first step is identifying what pests or disease that your succulent is experiencing. Often times dealing with pests and diseases is quite easy and will not require a lot of work on your part, but some times it may take a little more effort.
Succulents Diseases And Pests

Succulents mainly comprise cactuses and fleshy-leaved plants. Gardeners love these plants because they are difficult to kill. However, there might be instances where your succulents’ plants appear less healthy.

It might be because of pests and diseases, regardless of how well you water them. Pests trigger different diseases, some of which are difficult to deal with. 

Learning how to deal with these diseases ensures your succulents’ plants look healthy. Succulents’ pests and diseases have different symptoms. Understanding these symptoms may help detect pests and conditions before they spread to the entire plant.

The below tips help prevent pests on your succulent collections:

  • Using fertilizer during the growing season: Fertilizer makes succulents healthy and strong. This reduces the chances of your plants succumbing to pests.
  • Dead leaves are one of the breeding grounds for pests and molds. Therefore, remove dead leaves that might be near your succulent garden. 
  • Don’t reuse dead leaves or soil from a previously used infected plant. Some eggs might have survived to infect your plants.
  • Using pesticides is another popular technique for preventing pest infestation. Consider pesticides made from natural products. There are two types of pesticides to choose from, namely systematic and contact pesticides. Systematic pesticides get absorbed on the roots and poison pests when they feed on them. On the other hand, contact pesticides require physical contact to kill pests. 
  • Keeping your succulent plants and soil dry: Pests like gnats and mealybugs are some animals that breed in wet conditions.

Common Pests Infestations in Succulents Plants 

Pest infestations are prevalent, especially if you love gardening. Therefore, don’t be shocked if pests infest your succulents, despite your gardening experience. Some pests develop resistance to pesticides, which is a common problem.

Luckily, pesticides are regularly enhanced to deal with mutating pests and diseases. Tiny pests also hide in unseen places, making it difficult to spot them. Some common pests in succulent plants include:


It is considered among the most dangerous succulent pests. These pets are small in size, generally between 1/3 to 1/5 inches in length. Mealybugs appear white with both a cotton and waxy appearance if you keenly look.

A mealybugs on the plant.
Mealybugs hide on the underside of leaves and joints.

This pest is common in succulent spines and veins. At times, mealybugs hide on the underside of leaves and joints. This pest sucks juices from succulent plants, hence the wrinkled and shriveled leaves.

Sometimes, the infestation can be severe, resulting in the death of the plant. Black mold is one of the common symptoms of Mealybugs infestation. You should also be on the lookout for Mold growth.

Mealybugs secrete a substance that promotes mold growth. Separate any succulent plant that displays these symptoms from the rest. Regularly inspect your plants because this pest can destroy them.

A systemic pesticide is recommended when it comes to treatment, significantly when your succulent plant is growing. However, those using contact insecticides should use high concentrations because of the protective covering on this pest. 

Fungus Gnats 

This pest looks like mosquitoes and usually is black. Their length can be 1/6 to 1/8 inches and mostly attack the succulent plant’s roots. Root damage slows down the growth rate of a plant or withers to death. 

Fungus Gnats  on the leaf.
Soil with a lot of moisture is the breeding ground for fungus gnats.

Soil with a lot of moisture is the breeding ground for fungus gnats. Therefore, choose only well-draining soil when planting your succulent collections. Avoid overwatering by giving soil enough time to dry out. 

Use pumice to drain any excess water and also regulate moisture. In addition, cinnamon powder contains anti-fungal properties, reducing the chances of fungus gnats’ infestation. So, sprinkle some cinnamon powder where you have planted your succulent plants.

Spider mites mostly attack succulent plants because of their sweet sap. They suck juices out of plants. Additionally, their length is 1/50 inch, one of the reasons it can go undetected when it attacks plants. 

Spider Mites 

A spider mite.
They suck juices out of plants.

Watch out for Brown dots and webbing in your succulent plants. These are among the warning symptoms of spider mites infestation. Eventually, the succulent plant might turn lighter and finally white. 

Quarantine your plant if you notice the above symptoms. This preventative measure ensures an infestation doesn’t spread to other plants. Cotton dipped in rubbing alcohol can remove spider mites from your plant.

Systemic pesticides are also used to prevent spider mites infestation. Place your plant away from direct light after using systemic pesticides. 


The common aphids are green in color. This pest is mainly found on the leaves or the soft tissues of succulent plants. Aphids excrete a white substance when feeding on plants, which promotes the growth of black mold. 

The common aphids are green in color.
This pest is mainly found on the leaves or the soft tissues of succulent plants.

Misshaped leaves and slow growth are the common symptoms of Aphids infestation. Systematic insecticides are recommended for severe infestation, but only during the growing season. Soapy mixture and high-pressure water are other popular ways of getting rid of aphids before spreading to the entire plant.


The scale pest mainly attacks the leaves and stems of a plant. It makes plants have wrinkled leaves because they suck out plant juices. Small brown bumps are the most common symptom of scale infestation.

Act when you see brown bumps on your plant because this plant multiplies quickly. Also, separate it from other plants so that this pest doesn’t spread. Apart from physical removal, systematic insecticide is another popular way of removing this pest from your succulent plants. 

Common Disease in Succulent Plants 

Like other plants, succulent plants are also prone to diseases. However, most of these diseases are unpredictable and appear when we least expect them. These diseases are divided into four main categories, namely:

Fungal Diseases

Succulents growing in humidity and cool temperatures areas are prone to fungal diseases. Black spot, Rhizoctonia rot, black spot, Anthracnose, pythium, and Epiphyllum mosaic disease are examples of fungal diseases. 

Succulent plants infected with fungal diseases exhibit spots. Webbing on the soil around the infected plant is also common. 

Almost nothing can be done when a plant is infected with a fungal disease. Therefore, uproot it from the soil so that it doesn’t infect other plants. 

Viral Diseases

Viral infections are very popular in succulent plants. Mainly, insects spread viruses when feeding on the plant’s sap. Therefore, controlling insects that cause viral infections is the best preservative method. 

Common symptoms of viral diseases are quick shoots’ growth and stunted growth. Discard any plant with viral infection since there is no remedy. 

Conditions Diseases

These diseases arise due to poor care of your plants. Desiccation, etiolation, over-watering, pot-bound roots, and sunburn are examples of these conditions. Over-watering is the top condition succulent plants encounter. It causes splitting or rots. 

Etiolation occurs when your succulent collections require more sunlight. In such situations, additional growth might be necessary.

Unfortunately, such growth is mostly deformed and sickly. Under-watering plants results in drying up or desiccation. 

Excessive sun can also trigger sunburn in your plants. Usually, the side facing the sun turns either brown or white. Crowded roots are another common problem for succulents planted in pots.

It prevents moisture from adequately moving from roots to other parts of the plant. 


Just like humans, succulents also require nutrients to survive. Lack of nutrients is one of the common diseases in succulent plants. Turning yellow is one of the symptoms your plant lacks some nutrients.

Measure the soil you will use for planting to determine if there are sufficient nutrient levels. 

 Effective Pests and Diseases Management Tips 

As earlier stated, pests and diseases may attack your plants when you least expect them. Understanding some management tips gives an idea of what to do when you notice your succulent plants are ailing. Below are proven management tips worth trying out:

Flowers being exposed in the light of the sun.
Pests and diseases may attack your plants when you least expect them.
  • Succulent plants have different climatic requirements. Growing your plants in the right region makes them healthy. A healthy plant can easily fight off disease and pests. Therefore, understand the water requirements, sun exposure requirements, and temperature requirements of a plant. It helps determine if a plant can grow in your region or not. 
  • Keep the pots and containers clean. Some pests hide on dead flowers and leaves. Therefore, get rid of flowers and leaves that might be around containers. 
  • Always quarantine any new succulent before mixing it with your plant collection. During this time, watch out for signs of diseases or pests. Treat your plant if there are pests or diseases before setting it next to your plants. 
  • Using insecticides and pesticides. This is one of the recommended techniques, especially when preventing the infestation of different pesticides and insecticides
  • Regularly inspect your plants for pests or diseases symptoms. It helps detect an infestation on time before it spreads to the entire plant or your garden. 
  • Correctly identify the problem in case of an infestation. Always be keen on the symptoms displayed by a plant. It helps detect the correct infestation and come up with the proper treatment. ‘The right treatment controls the infestation and prevents it from occurring again. Therefore, confirm the infestation before administering any treatment on your plants. 
  • When it comes to deficiency diseases, choose healthy soil when planting your succulent plants. Healthy soil promotes the healthy growth of plants, which can comfortably fight off infections and pests.

Fighting Succulent Diseases and Pests 

Generally, there are two common ways of fighting pests and diseases, namely chemical and biological. These methods have effectively fought off pests and diseases. Understand these two methods and choose the best.

Chemical technique 

The chemical method helps fight succulent pests and diseases. However, this technique is all about administering poisonous substances to the pests. On the other hand, chemical pesticides serve to purpose, namely preventing and treating. 

A chemical Pesticides being applied on the plant.
Protection pesticides minimize the chances of your succulent plants being attacked when you least expect. 

Overall, no one can predict pests or disease infestation. However, protection pesticides minimize the chances of your succulent plants being attacked when you least expect. 

Pesticides treat different infestations. Detecting an infestation on time determines if the pesticide will be effective or not. In addition, pests and diseases require different pesticides. Therefore, proper diagnosis is essential before administering any treatment. 

Pros about Chemical method

There are numerous advantages why this technique is commonly used across the globe. Below are some pros worth checking out:

  • They are affordable, making it pocket-friendly to treat or protect your succulent collections. 
  • Pesticides are available for different pests and diseases. In short, there is a solution for different kinds of infestations.
  • This technique has a positive track record. The effectiveness and stability of the chemical method are practically witnessed across the globe. Therefore, administer the right pesticide to your plants and slowly witness your plants regaining their health.
  • Pesticides are effective for a long time. Hence, you don’t have to administer a pesticide to your succulent plants regularly.

Natural Method

As the name suggests, this technique uses natural methods to both prevent and treat infestations. This technique traces its origin to the 4th century. Start by setting a suitable environment for your succulent plants. This entails healthy soil, the correct water levels, enough sunlight, and nutrients.

A pot with different sets of plants
Natural methods entails healthy soil, the correct water levels, enough sunlight, and nutrients.

Also, remove dry leaves or dirt that might be around your plants. This is an excellent breeding place for some pests and viruses. Finally, regularly boost the nutrient levels in your soil so that your plants can absorb different nutrients. Test your soil to determine which nutrients should be boosted. A healthy plant efficiently fights off both diseases and pests. 

Another natural method is draining off excess water in the plants. Excess moisture is an invitation to pests and different diseases. When watering your succulent plants, focus on the roots, not leaves. It determines when the water is enough for your plant. 

Regularly observe your plants. This natural technique helps detect infected parts of your plant. Then, use clippers to cut off infected parts in your plants and throw them away.

Soapy water is also another natural ingredient you can use to protect your succulent collections.

Pros about Natural Method

  • You don’t have to worry about health hazards attributed to chemicals.
  • It is always effective, especially if diseases and pests can b discovered early before spreading to the entire plant.
  • At any given time, you won’t use any amount. This makes it cost-effective at any given time. 
  • You can easily monitor results then determine if it’s working or not. 

How to Safely Use Pesticides on Your Succulent Plants 

Pesticides come in different forms. Safely is paramount at all times, especially when administering to your plants. Below is a step by step guide on how to handle pesticides:

  • Read the instructions on your pesticide. A lot of people ignore the instructions accompanied by a pesticide. Always read the instructions before consuming a product. You will learn how the pesticide should be used, the amounts to use, and how it should be administered, among others.
  • Pay attention to the warning label. Some pesticides are harmful to plants, pets, and humans. Reading the warning label helps avoid accidents. Some pesticides are highly flammable, whereas others irritate when they come into contact with skin.
  • Always measure the right amounts of pesticides. The quantities you measure determine if the pesticide will be effective or not. Low amounts might prove ineffective against pests or diseases. On the other hand, high doses might affect your plants.
  • Mix only the amount you intend on using. Pesticides are reusable anytime, provided they have not expired.
  • Use safety equipment, especially if you are spraying the entire plant. Some pesticides cause a lot of irritation if they come into contact with skin. 

Bottom line

As you start your journey of taking care of your succulent plants, be prepared to fight off pests and diseases. Some plants might be treated, whereas others might have to be plucked or thrown away. It depends on when the condition was detected. Unfortunately, there are instances when pests and diseases spread to the entire plant, and nothing can be done.

Try your level best to keep the environment clean. It minimizes the chances of pests or viruses breading around your plants. Get rid of any dirt that might be a breeding ground for pests. This applies to succulent plants in gardens or containers. 

A plant being sprayed with water on the leaf.
You have to keep the environment clean since it minimizes the chances of pests or viruses breading around your plants.

Ensure your plants grow in the recommended conditions. Research the succulent plants that grow well in your region, and choose from the list. Water, sunlight, and the type of soil should also be kept in mind. They contribute to the healthy growth of your plants.

Don’t allow pests or diseases to spread before you take action. Separate the infected plant from other plants. Determine the pests or disease as soon as possible and the infection level. It determines if treatment is necessary or it’s too late. Ensure your plant is free from pests and disease before integrating it back with your succulent collections. 

Lastly, understand the symptoms of different pests and diseases. You should also know how your plants look like when healthy. This makes it easy to detect if something isn’t okay. Follow this guide and have a happy time growing and maintaining your succulent plants. Remember, early detection increases the chances of the selected treatment working. 

Last update on 2024-02-06 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

read this next

Succulent plants are well known for their drought tolerance and water conservation. The roots of a succulent plant store water, giving it an advantage in periods of drought, low rainfall or slow growth. Understanding how you should care for them determines when and how often you have to water.
The spectacular blooming of a cactus plant can be the most breathtaking experience in your garden. That is, if you want it to bloom! If you are wondering how to know if your cactus will flower, this handy guide gives you the answers.
Propagate Ice Plant from an Ice Plant Cutting Ice plants are very simple to propagate from cuttings. Some people say it is tricky but it really is not. Propagating grows new plants for you, which will give you more ice plant to work with or share with others.
String of Pearls is a beautiful addition to any garden with its unusual and very attractive flowers. This succulent can be made into an indoor plant as well. Propagation is easy, as are its pruning and care requirements.
Along with being exceptionally resistant to harsh conditions and numerous weather elements, cacti have a unique feature: self-healing. It might seem impossible for a damaged cactus to turn healthy again, but in fact in some cases that is possible. This article will discuss what can be done when your cactus suffers damage.
Buddhas Temple plant
This plant, also known as a temple tree, comes from South Africa. It has striking leaves that usually range from red to pink to white and are either solid or variegated. In their native habitat, they grow on cliffs and rocky areas in the winter months and are deciduous. They prefer partial to full shade and well-drained acidic soil, making them a wonderful choice for bonsai culture in the home.
Cacti are among the most popular house plants due to their undemanding nature and lack of light preferences. These topped our list of best small cactus species for your indoors, which you can keep as a table or desk plant.
Blue spruce covered with snow.
Cold-hardy succulents are easier for many of us to grow than those native to the deserts and mountains of the southwest. Here, we list some of the most common succulent plants for container gardens who can tolerate a range of temperatures.
Terrariums are a fun, creative way to display live plants at home or in the office. They require little maintenance and can last for years. Although each living thing is different, there are some general guidelines to follow to ensure the long life of your terrarium. Here are some things you need to know about terrarium plant’s lifespan.
Cacti Vs. Succulents: If you’re new to the world of succulents, or are looking to purchase your first piece, it may be helpful to compare the two most common types of fleshy stemmed plants. Though they are similar in appearance, cactus vs. succulent stems have distinct visual differences that set them apart.
Jade plants are popular houseplants because they are so easy to take care of. Jade plants can survive almost all kinds of treatment, but often, jade plants do not grow as fast as expected. Make sure your jade plant receives the right amount of light, water and fertilizer for it to grow better. This ultimate guide will help you learn how to care for your jade plant.
Air plants are beautiful living plants that grow without soil. Their unique leaves absorb the nutrients they need from the air, so they can literally be hung in your window or on your wall. However, if neglected the leaves will begin to turn color and shrivel, so here are some tips on how to save a rotting air plant.
The root system of a cactus is very unique. It is necessary for the plant to get water deep into the ground and disperse it as widely as possible, so that the cactus can take in as much water as possible. Cactus roots will grow as deep as three feet into the ground and up to three feet wide as well as horizontally.

Receive the latest news

Get Our Cacti Newsletter

Stay updated with the latest facts, tips, advice, and more!

Your privacy is important to us.