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Combating Jade Plant Pest and Disease, True & Tested Ways

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Jade plants are beautiful and easy to care for houseplants, and with proper care, they can live for decades. If you have jade plants within your home, you need to provide them with sufficient water good lighting and watch out for pests and diseases. 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 for 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 will need to 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 need to be aware of the signs of attack on plants. This post will provide you with detailed information on jade plant pests and diseases to watch for, prevention, and treatment. Read on and find out.

Jade Plant 1
Jade Plant 1
What are Jade Plant Pests?

Jade plants are hard to kill even under neglect, and 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.

Most pests are attracted to jade plants, among other succulents, due to overwatering. And as we are about to discover, four insects are likely to attack your jade plants, and they include mealy bugs, mealy root bugs, scale, and spider mites.

Mealybug Pests

Mealybugs are very common among indoor jade plants. These insects are pink, soft bodies 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 hind 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, also known as styles, to pierce through the plant tissues and suck juices. The insects multiply pretty fast, and as the number increases, 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 deposition sooty mold spores of fungus disease. Therefore, the affected plants suffer from the infestation of mealy bugs and fungus disease. 

How do you tell if your plants are infected by mealybugs?

  • If you want to identify plants infected with mealy bugs look out for white residue on the leaf and stem surface. The substance if often the insects’ eggs sacs or the insects themselves.
  • The plants will also have sticky residue on them (honey dew).
  • Honey dew deposits on jade plants is 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.
  • As a home remedy, you can wash the entire plant with one part alcohol to three parts water mixed in with some dish soap without bleach. 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, it become difficult to get rid of these insects 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, then you need to 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 of alarm. To use the oil, you need to dilute it first as per the manufacturer’s instructions often involving addition of dishwashing soap and water.
  • Introduction of natural predators is another effective way of eradicating mealy bugs among outdoor fade plants. Some of these predator insects include: lacewings, lady birds and parasitic wasps.

Root Mealybugs

Root mealybugs are also prevalent pests among jade plants in warmer regions. These are white insects resembling 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 0.1inches, and have a thin gray/white coating on their bodies. The coating develops as the insect ages as 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 as soon as 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 its food and water. Also, root rot occurs combined 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.

To control and save your plants from mealybug attacks, you need to be aware of the signs of affected plants.

Signs of root mealybugs in jade plants

  • Root mealy bugs are hard to detect at early stages on infestation. You will therefore be able to identify some signs in the plant as its health begins to deteriorate.
  • You need to check the plant’s soil for the insects before watering when the soil is completely dry. It is difficult to identify them when the soil is wet 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 develop a blue tinted appearance. This color is due to waxy insect’s filaments that begin to appear 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 they don’t show any improvement 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 need to drench the plant’s soil with a mixture of 1 ½ teaspoon 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 22days. 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 of 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 115° to 120° degrees Fahrenheit for ten minutes and also sterilize the pot in hot water or by rubbing with alcohol. Use fresh soil to repot the jade plant. To kill the remaining insects and eggs, you can mix diatomaceous earth into the potting soil.

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 the plant 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 keep an eye on your plants and act as soon as you notice any signs of infestation. In minor cases, remove extremely affected leaves and dispose of the affected parts. You can also 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 for you to kill the insects, you will have to press the cotton swab onto the affected plant surface for thirty seconds each time. The alcohol works by destroying 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 0.04inches. 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 as 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, eradicate spider mites by rubbing the plant with alcohol, like other pests. Mix 1/2cups alcohol with a quart of water and apply on the underside of the leaf where the insects are.

Jade plant diseases

There are mainly two diseases that 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 that occurs from overwatering or poor drainage in the soil or container. You can only prevent the disease by following the recommended watering schedules for jade plants and only watering the plant when the soil is arid. You also need to 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 plants leaves to die prematurely, and can be controlled through the application of fungicides such as horticultural oil.
  • You can control this infection is by spraying the plant daily with a mixture of a tablespoon baking soda, a half teaspoon of non-detergent soap and a gallon of water.
  • Mouthwash is also effective in killing the fungus spores and safe for use on jade plant leaves.
  • The other option is by spraying 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

FAQ’s about Jade Plants


Indoor jade plants are more prone to attack by pests and diseases. These plants, like most succulents, are sensitive to the application of insecticides. 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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