Jade Plant Pest and Disease. Keep it Beautiful

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Jade plants are prone to attack by pests such as mealy bugs, scale, and spider mites. Diseases such as bacterial soft rot and Powdery Mildew are also common enemies of the plant.

Jade plant leaves are sensitive to chemicals contained in pesticides. Fungal infections and pests are easily treated using neem oil, among other homemade remedies. Diseases are difficult to control, and you must dispose of the entire plant.

Noticing early signs of pests, diseases, and pest attacks can help you control the spread.

To combat these pests and diseases, you must be aware of the signs of attack on plants.

This post will provide detailed information on jade plant pests and diseases to watch for, prevention, and treatment. Read on and find out.

What are Jade Plant Pests?

Jade plants are hard to kill even under neglect; however, attacks by insects or pests can quickly destroy the plant. Besides, these pests leave permanent ugly marks on the plants, stealing your home’s beauty and appeal.

Due to overwatering, most pests are attracted to jade plants, among other succulents. And as we are about to discover, four insects will likely attack your jade plants, including mealy bugs, mealy root bugs, scale, and spider mites.

Mealybug Pests

Mealybugs are very common among indoor jade plants.

These insects are pink, soft, and tiny, measuring 0.05 to 0.2 inches. For this reason, they are challenging to diagnose at the early stages of infestation.

They have elongated and segmented bodies and waxy filaments extending from their hinds to resemble a tail.

These insects’ bodies are also covered in white-grey cottony wax, making them appear as white/cream/brown fuzzy deposits on jade plants.

The color varies depending on the age of the insects and can be easily mistaken for fungus or Mildew.

Mealybugs are found in the stem axis, and the underside of the plant leaves.

These pests use their mouthparts, or styles, to pierce through the plant tissues and suck juices.

The insects multiply quickly, the number increases, and the plants deplete their food and water reserves.

As mealybugs feed, they also leave behind sticky secretions on the plant known as honeydew. The honeydew provides the ideal environment for depositing sooty mold spores of fungus disease. Therefore, the affected plants suffer from mealy bugs and fungus disease infestation. 

How do you tell if mealybugs infect your plants?

  • To identify plants infected with mealy bugs, look for white residue on the leaf and stem surfaces. The substance is often the insects’ eggs sacs or the insects themselves.
  • The plants will also have a sticky residue (honeydew).
  • Honeydew deposits on jade plants are also likely to attract ants to the plant.

Control of mealybugs on jade plants

You can treat mealy bug-affected plants using natural pest control methods, biological pest control, organic options, and chemicals. Here are some of the verified ways of controlling this pest among your jade plants:

  • Once you notice the white deposits on your plants, isolate affected plants to control the spread. Remove the white material as much as you can.
  • You can wash the entire plant with one alcohol to three parts water mixed with dish soap without bleach as a home remedy. Wash the plant using the mixture every few days and monitor the progress.
  • During the early stages of infection, you can treat the affected plant with cotton balls or Q-tips soaked with rubbing alcohol, which helps remove the insects and their cocoons.
  • In severe cases, getting rid of these insects becomes difficult, and you may have to dispose of the entire plant.
  • You can hardly use insecticidal soaps and oils on jade plants as they are sensitive to their application. These chemicals are not suitable for succulents as they damage the leaf surface. If you choose to treat infected plants with insecticides, you must identify ones that are safe for use on succulents, such as neem oils or organic insecticidal soaps.
  • Neem oil is effective, non-toxic, and best suited for indoor plants, and you can safely spray it on the plant’s leaves and soil without any cause for alarm. To use the oil, you must dilute it as per the manufacturer’s instructions, often involving the addition of dishwashing soap and water.
  • Introducing natural predators is another effective way of eradicating mealy bugs among outdoor fade plants. These predator insects include lacewings, ladybirds, and parasitic wasps.

Root Mealybugs

Root mealybugs are also prevalent pests among jade plants in warmer regions. These white insects resemble the normal meal bugs we saw above; however, they live at the root level of jade plants. It is essential to keep mealybugs and mealy root bugs entirely different.

Root mealybugs feed on the jade plant’s roots by sucking off the plant’s sap.

These insects are wingless, measuring 0.1 inches, and have a thin gray/white coating on their bodies.

The coating develops as the insect ages; younger ones are cream-colored and wax-less.

As the insects feed on the jade plant’s roots, they leave behind white deposits, known as honeydew. The honeydew attracts mold growth to the plant’s roots, damaging the plant.

In the beginning, mealy bugs generally are not a problem. However, it would be best to control the spread when you notice signs of infestation. The insect population grows very fast as it takes a maximum of two weeks for their eggs to hatch into nymphs.

These nymphs feed heavily on the plant’s sap by piercing the plant roots, and within nine weeks, they develop into mature adults who also reproduce. Consequently, their generations overlap, and colonies grow in no time.

As the adults and their young ones feed on the plant, they quickly deplete the sap containing food and water. Also, root rot occurs with white mold growth on the plant roots. Consequently, the plant’s ability to take up water and other essential minerals is limited, among other root functions.

You must know the signs of affected plants to control and save your plants from mealybug attacks.

Signs of root mealybugs in jade plants

  • Root mealy bugs are hard to detect at the early stages of infestation. You will therefore be able to identify some signs in the plant as its health deteriorates.
  • You need to check the plant’s soil for insects before watering when the soil is parched. It is difficult to identify them when wet soil and particles are intact.
  • As the insect population grows, the affected plant leaves begin to develop a yellowish coloration. The foliage may also wilt and die as the plant roots get damaged.
  • If your jade plants are infested with root mealy bugs, you will notice the soil around the plant develops a blue-tinted appearance. This color is due to waxy insect filaments appearing on the soil surface as the insects multiply.
  • Due to the health implication of these insects, jade plants affected by root mealy bugs don’t grow as fast. Among other signs, you can tell affected plants from stunted growth.
  • Also, the plants will have a cotton-like build-up around the roots.
  • Severely affected jade plants begin to wilt and don’t improve after watering.

Also read Good vs. Bad Garden Bugs: How to Know the Difference

Ways of controlling root mealybugs

Root mealybugs are very difficult to control, significantly when several plants grow closer together.

Using neem oil, you must drench the plant’s soil with 1 ½ teaspoons of raw neem for each quart of emulsified water.

Then drench the soil with two to three cups of the mixture every three weeks as the mixture remains active for 22 days.

As the plant takes in the neem from the soil, it gets into its system, killing other pests that might have infested the plant.

The other option for getting rid of mealy root bugs involves sterilizing the plant roots and repotting. Remove the plant from its pot and remove the soil from the roots.

Then soak the plant roots in hot water at 115° to 120° Fahrenheit for ten minutes and sterilize the pot in hot water or by rubbing it with alcohol.

Use fresh soil to repot the jade plant. You can mix diatomaceous earth into the potting soil to kill the remaining insects and eggs.

Scale Pests

Scales are other common pests among jade plants, and these insects pierce the plant’s surface and suck off the plant sap like other pests. Once affected, the plant’s health deteriorates and stops growing, while over-infestation will kill the plant.

These insects appear as tiny bumps on the leaf underside and have hard shells that’s make it hard t kill even by using insecticides.

Once the insects begin sucking the pants off their juices and multiply, the plant stops growing; its leaves turn yellow-brown and drop off the plant.

It is best to watch your plants and act as soon as you notice any signs of infestation. Remove extremely affected leaves and dispose of the affected parts in minor cases. You can scrape the insect colonies off the plant leaves using your fingers or a brush.

Alcohol rub is also effective in killing insects and their eggs. Scales have hard shells, and to kill the insects, you must press the cotton swab onto the affected plant surface for thirty seconds each time.

The alcohol destroys the insect’s oily surface, breaking down its shell. The plants also get suffocated from the alcohol.

The other solution to getting rid of these insects is spraying the plant with baking soda and vinegar.

Spider mites

Like mealybugs, spider mites also destroy jade plants by sucking up the plant sap on the leaves and stems. These insects are also tiny, measuring 0.04 inches. These insects have different colors, red/brown, lay thousands of colorless eggs, and protect them with silk webs.

Due to their small size, these insects go unnoticed until they form large colonies. They often appear dust on the plant’s surface due to their reddish-brown color.

As these insects multiply, the affected plants start turning red, with chlorotic patches or pecking on the leaves, and the foliage begins to fall off as they get depleted of water.

Like mealybugs, the most effective way of eliminating spider mites is by using neem oil spray. Pay special attention to the plants under the leaf and interconnecting stem parts as you apply the oil.

Spider mites also hide in the soil. You can also apply neem oil to the plant’s soil, and as the plant absorbs the compound into its system, it kills the pests by preventing them and their larvae from feeding on the plant.

Finally, like other pests, eradicate spider mites by rubbing the plant with alcohol. Mix 1/2 cup alcohol with a quart of water and apply on the underside of the leaf where the insects are.

Jade plant diseases

Mainly, two diseases affect jade plants, including bacterial soft rot and powdery Mildew.

Bacterial soft rot

Bacterial soft rot is a jade plant disease that affects the plant’s roots causing the plant’s inner tissues to soften and become mushy.

Once affected, the plant stem and branches collapse, and there is a way of treating or reviving the plant.

This disease is a typical root rot in jade plants from overwatering or poor drainage in the soil or container.

You can only prevent the disease by following the recommended jade plant watering schedules and only when the soil is arid.

You must also check the soil for moisture before watering the plants and resist watering jade plants during winter.

Powdery mildew

Powdery Mildew is a fungal infection that affects jade plants. This fungus causes the plant leaves to develop scabby or corky patches. This fungus is adapted not to kill the host plant as it can only survive on living plants. For this reason, it distorts the plant’s appearance without killing it.

Powdery Mildew often affects jade plants due to high humidity and low temperatures. The low light levels also promote the growth of spores.

You can control powdery Mildew by:

  • The infection causes the affected plant leaves to die prematurely and can be controlled by applying fungicides such as horticultural oil.
  • You can control this infection by spraying the plant daily with a tablespoon of baking soda, a half teaspoon of non-detergent soap, and a gallon of water.
  • Mouthwash is also effective in killing fungus spores and safe for use on jade plant leaves.
  • The other option is to spray the plant leaves with a mixture of vinegar and baking soda.

Summary table

Pest/diseaseControl mechanism
MealybugsIsolation, alcohol rub, neem oil, and natural predators
Root mealybugsNeem oil and sterilizing and repotting the plant
Spider mitesNeem oil and alcohol rub
ScaleA mixture of baking soda and vinegar, and alcohol rub
Bacterial root rotDispose of the affected plant
Powdery MildewHorticultural oils, a mixture of baking soda and non-detergent soap, a mixture of vinegar and baking soda, and mouthwash

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you care for a jade plant outside?

4-6 hours of direct sunlight is ideal for outdoor plants, and they’ll do best with a bit of shade from the intense afternoon sun. Although jade plants are succulent and can tolerate drought, their foliage can become tinged red or wrinkled and shriveled when stressed from too little water.

Where does Jade grow outside?

These wild plants can tolerate deep shade or full direct sun. The best light conditions for Jade outdoors are the morning sun’s bright light. Later in the day, give plants protection from the harsh afternoon sun.

Why do jade plant leaves fall off?

Poor drainage is a common reason why Jade plants drop their leaves. Well-draining soil is imperative for the long-term happiness of most succulents. Excess moisture can lead to root rot if your Jade plant’s soil doesn’t drain well. As a result, the leaves will fall off.

Can I plant Jade in the ground?

Good drainage is vital to the survival of a jade plant; plant Crassula ovata in a freely draining medium such as a cactus mix and never let it sit in wet soil. Jade plants can be planted outdoors in USDA growing zones 11 to 12, but most areas must be brought inside to winter.

How do I know if my jade plant is overwatered?

The symptoms of overwatering a Jade Plant are yellowing leaves, leaf drops, soft leaves, and dry leaves. The soil will usually be waterlogged, and the roots show signs of root rot.


Indoor jade plants are more prone to attack by pests and diseases. Like most succulents, these plants are sensitive to insecticides application.

There are, however, some organic products that you can use to kill insects attacking your plants.

These plants are also affected by diseases, mainly bacterial soft rot and powdery Mildew.

Bacterial soft rot occurs from overwatering and can hardly be treated.

Powdery Mildew is a fungal infection that often occurs during winter, can hardly kill the plant, and is easy to control.


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