Echeveria plants are a group of Mexican succulents with approximately 150 or more species, which range greatly in size, shape, and other characteristics.
For this reason, Echeveria is used in a variety of settings, from windowsill houseplants to large and impressive specimen plant in a desert or rock garden.
When kept properly with ample sun, well-draining succulent soil, and occasional, deep watering, most Echeveria are trouble-free.
If you overwater, overcrowd, or don’t provide enough sun, you’ll run into trouble.
In this article, we review the pests and diseases you may encounter when keeping Echeveria.
We also share advice on how to deal with these pests and diseases using insecticidal soap, rubbing . Read on to learn more.
Pests on Echeveria and other succulent plants are rare, but you may occasionally have trouble with fungus gnats, spider mites, or succulent mealybugs.
It is hard to deal with and control pests because they are all slow moving, very tiny and tend to hide, so your first indication you have a problem is usually damage to your plant.
#1 – Fungus Gnats are very tiny black flies which look a little bit like mosquitoes.
You’ll usually see them hovering over the surface of the soil.
The adult flies are annoying, but they don’t damage plants, but the larvae live in the soil and eat the roots of the plants as well as organic matter.
The presence of larvae doesn’t usually have a negative effect on mature plants, but small plants and seedlings may be stunted or even killed by them.
#2 – Spider Mites are so tiny they look like dust if you shake them off the plant onto a piece of paper.
You’ll know they’re there because you may notice your plant is covered very fine webbing and small brown dots over the surface of your plant.
You’ll often find these pests on the underside of leaves where they damage succulents and cactus by sucking out the juice of the plant.
#3 – Mealybugs on Succulents also damage Echeverias by sucking the juices from them.
They are a little bit easier to see as they are white and have a cottony, waxy appearance.
They usually cluster together along the spines, stems and leaves of plants.
On Echeveria, they tend to hide between the leaves, deep in the rosette, so it’s important to inspect your plants carefully to catch infestations early on.
#4 – Root Mealybugs are even harder to detect because they live under the soil on the roots of the plant.
They look like white spots on roots.
They cause damage by sucking the juices out of the roots and by weakening the plant, making it more likely to contract root rot or bacterial infections.
What Can You Do about Echeveria Pests? 8 Steps
The best way to deal with pests on Echeveria is to prevent them from ever taking hold.
Practice a good Integrated Pest Management (IPM) system to keep them away and deal with them quickly if they do appear.
#1 – Take Good Care of Your Plants!
Healthy Echeveria wards off pests and diseases and recover more quickly and successfully if they are exposed to these problems.
Always provide plenty of sunlight, well-draining soil, and the right amount of water.
#2 – Separate New Plants
Keep new plants separate until you are sure they are completely healthy.
When purchasing plants, examine them closely before buying and then keep them in quarantine for a couple of weeks when you bring them home.
#3 – Address Problems Immediately
As soon as you notice signs of pests on plants, take steps to eradicate them.
If the plant is severely infected, it’s usually best to discard the plant.
#4 – Use The Least Toxic Method
Use the least toxic method of getting rid of pests first.
Surprisingly, a strong stream of water is an effective way of dealing with spider mites, mealybugs, and root mealybugs.
As soon as you notice them, wash them off with a strong stream of water.
This may be all you need to do.
Of course, if you’re dealing with root mealybugs, you’ll also need to repot the plant.
#5 – Small Mealy Bug Infestation
For a small mealy bug infestation, wipe them away with a cotton swab or cotton ball dipped in rubbing alcohol.
You may want to follow this up by spraying the entire plant with a diluted solution of isopropyl alcohol.
Mix up one part alcohol to three parts water.
Be sure to test a small, hidden area of the plant before spraying the entire plant.
Some Echeveria is sensitive to this mixture.
#6 – Use Sticky Traps To Catch Fungus Gnats
Catch fungus gnats with yellow sticky traps; however, be aware their presence is an indication you are keeping your soil too wet.
Reduce watering and increase ventilation to discourage infestation or re-infestation.
#7 – Use Natural Pest Solutions
As with rubbing alcohol spray, you should test a small, hidden area of the plant before spraying the entire plant.
Some Echeveria is sensitive to these substances.
8 – For very stubborn mealybug infestation, you may need to use a systemic insecticide like acephate or imidacloprid as a soil drench.
Follow product label instructions carefully. More on insecticide for succulents here.
Succulent Echeveria Diseases
Most Echeveria diseases are caused by too much humidity, excessive watering, or too little light.
These conditions will cause fungal diseases and bacterial infections.
#1 – Too Much Humidity
- If your Echeveria is kept in an area where the humidity level is too high, it will develop discolored, soft growth.
- It may even develop stem rot disease, which manifests as soft, mushy stems.
- If stem rot disease has developed, it means your plant is affected by a fungal infection.
- This sort of infection is usually fatal, but you may be able to save your plant by un-potting it, removing soil from the roots, and soaking it in very warm water for 20 to 40 minutes.
- Cutaway any rotted roots or vegetation and allow the washed, healthy plant to air for twenty-four hours before repotting it in fresh, dry soil.
- To avoid this problem, remember always to provide water to your Echeveria with occasional deep watering.
- Never pour water over the plant, and never mist it.
- Keep the area around your Echeveria Plant well ventilated and don’t overcrowd your plants.
#2 – Overwatering
If you water your plant too often, or if you keep it in a container without good drainage, it will suffer from bacterial and fungal infections, which will cause root rot, stem rot, and rotting in the foliage.
You may also notice yellowing or bleaching of the leaves, along with wilting and leaf drop. More on succulent plant leaves falling off.
- To deal with this, remove the plant from its pot and examine its roots.
- If the roots look healthy and white, remove the wet soil, and allow the roots to air for twenty-four hours.
- Repot the plant with fresh, dry soil into a new or thoroughly cleaned container.
- It’s best to use containers made of breathable material such as terra-cotta.
- Always be sure containers for succulents have ample drainage holes.
- If the roots are mushy and brown, examine them carefully to see if there are some healthy roots left.
- If there are, cut away the brown, mushy roots and allow the healthy roots to air for twenty-four hours, then repot as described above.
- After repotting, do not water for at least a week.
- If the plant’s roots are entirely mushy and brown, they are dead.
- In this case, look for healthy leaves on the plant to propagate new plants.
- Dispose of the rest of the plant.
#3 – Too Little Light
If your plant looks stretched, misshapen, or elongated and has poorly developed leaves, you’re probably providing it with too little light.
Move it to a sunny location or add artificial light to the light the plant is already receiving.
#4 – Too Much Heat
If your plant is kept in an area where it consistently receives excessive heat (e.g., near a heat vent or radiator), you may notice dry, discolored, soft foliage appearing from the base of the plant upward.
- It may also tend to drop an excessive number of older leaves and may become elongated and leggy.
- Move the plant away from the heat source, and be sure it is receiving enough light.
TIP: Note with either too little light or too much heat, if your plant has become too stretched and leggy to recover on its own (even when ample light or a cooler setting is provided), you may need to do a little pruning to correct the problem.
- Cut off the top of the plant, remove any leaves along the leggy stem and then plant it as a stem cutting.
- This will give you two new plants – one from the roots and one from the stem cutting.
#5 – Underwatering
- If your plant becomes limp, shriveled and wilted, suspect underwatering.
- Watch for yellowing of the leaves and weak stems.
- In some cases, the edges of the plant’s leaves may appear scorched.
- Examine the plant, and if you find the soil is bone dry, then it’s a safe bet your problem is underwatering.
- To deal with this, water your plant thoroughly either by pouring water through the soil until it runs out through the drainage holes or by setting the pot into a bucket or bowl of water and allowing it to soak up water until the surface of the soil is wet.
- Be careful not to leave Echeveria soaking for more than fifteen or twenty minutes.
#6 – Fungal Infections
Some types of fungal infection may also cause your plant to appear to be under-watered.
- If your plant presents symptoms of underwatering but does not have dry soil or does not recover after watering, suspect a fungal infection.
- In this case, you will need to remove the plant from its pot, wash the roots thoroughly and prune away any dead roots.
- Allow the plant to air for twenty-four hours and then repot it in a new or sterilized pot with fresh soil.
- Treat the plant with a fungicidal soil drench.
- Allow the soil to dry thoroughly before watering again, and be very judicious about watering from here on out.