Dracaena plants are popular and grown indoors and out. Outdoors are relatively hardy and pest resistant. Indoors, Dracaenas are more susceptible to mealybug infestation.
If left untreated, these pests can weaken your plant and leave it prone to other diseases.
Some claim blasting your Dracaena will help get rid of a mealybug infestation. But, due to the plant’s leaf structure, it is difficult for this technique to work.
Let’s look at some other tips or suggestions.
What Is a Mealy Bug Infestation?
Female Mealybugs are tiny, white insects that are covered in a fuzzy, white wax film. The bugs usually congregate on the underside of dracaena leaves but also gather on the trunk or base of the plant.
Related: Tips on How To Kill Mealybugs
A mealybug infestation is easy to recognize by the waxy or cottony substance appearing on the leaves. You might not notice them as insects on the plant.
Mealybugs are sap-feeding insects that use their mouths to penetrate and extract the contents of plant leaves and stems.
White spots on Dracaena leaves (mealybugs) are often mistaken for a fungus. If you see insects flying around your plant, you’re dealing with a different pest.
Mealybugs don’t kill Dracaena plants as quickly as other pests do, but you should do something about it before your plant becomes damaged.
Instead, there are several natural ways to keep them at bay. Introducing beneficial insects like ladybugs, mealybug destroyers (type of ladybug- Cryptolaemus montrouzieri link ), or lacewings into your garden is an excellent way to eliminate mealybugs without using chemicals.
Too much nitrogen sometimes encourages excessive new growth, which draws aphids and other bugs that eat dracaena and weakens the plant.
What Damage Do Mealy Bugs Cause?
Mealybugs, like the citrus mealybug, go through several stages of life. The young mealybugs can cause the worst problems.
They pierce the plant and suck the juice out of the leaves, leading to leaf drops and soft spots. The leaves may turn yellow and die.
When the insects find a good spot on the plant to feed on, they may form clusters. That’s when they become more noticeable, creating a downy appearance on the plant.
A minor infestation isn’t too problematic. However, if the infestation is bad, it can extend to the other plants in your home or garden.
Always wash your hands and the tools you use to care for your plants so you don’t spread the infestation.
Mealybugs also produce a sticky substance called honeydew, which can lead to mold growth and attracts other pests to the plant. The insects don’t sting or harm humans or animals.
If a contact insecticide is used, be prepared to repeat the applications two or more times to kill nymphs that hatch from protected eggs and adults or nymphs that were protected by plant tissue.
The ladybug adults and larvae feed on the mealybug eggs and small nymphs. A very tiny wasp that parasitizes mealybugs is also sometimes used to supplement control by the predators.
The eggs hatch into tiny, immature mealybugs called nymphs that move about on the plant, searching for a place to settle, and eventually insert their beaks into the plant and begin sucking out the sap.
Keep an eye out for white cottony patches, sticky honeydew secretions, or black sooty mold growing near the base of leaves or stems – these could all indicate something’s amiss.
Learn more: Are Mealybugs Harmful To Humans? Maybe!
A mealybug infestation can affect indoor and outdoor plants. Controlling these bugs can help your plants thrive.
How To Control Mealybugs on Dracaena Marginata
Dracaena is an evergreen plant and makes an excellent houseplant. It doesn’t require a great deal of water, and some varieties tolerate drought very well.
Among houseplants, several popular houseplant varieties are especially prone to mealybug infestations.
These include the following:
- Various herbs, such as rosemary and sage
Ladybugs, parasitic wasps, and other beneficial insects can sometimes control pests of dracaena grown outdoors.
In addition, unlike outdoor plants, indoor plants are often shielded from the natural enemies that generally help keep mealybug populations in check.
Because Dracaena prefers drier soil, you don’t have to worry about moisture and mold issues in your home, as you would with other houseplants.
Moist environments tend to attract mold and mildew. By keeping your plant healthy by watering regularly and following appropriate care instructions, you’re less likely to have a pest problem.
One of the easiest ways to control and even prevent a mealybug infestation on Dracaena is to give your plant adequate care.
Biological control is often used to keep mealybug populations at low levels on large houseplants grown in greenhouses and botanical centers.
Usually more effective in the long run, use an insecticidal soap spray or neem oil. Spider mites, not often visible to the naked eye, are a common pest of dracaena.
- Overwatering can cause root rot, which weakens the plant.
- Fluoride in the water can damage the leaves, causing brown spots and brown leaf tips. Consider using filtered water or leaving containers of water out for several days before watering the plant. This allows the chemicals to dissipate into the air.
- Only water your Dracaena when the top inch of the soil is dry.
- Overwatering invites pest issues.
Natural Mealy Bug Control Methods
The waxy coating on mealybugs repels most insecticides. Where they hide also makes them hard to reach.
Several species of mealybugs can be pests of greenhouse, nursery, and landscape plants.
If you already have a mealybug infestation on Dracaena, there are some natural elimination methods available.
Start with spot treatments to kill mealy bugs using rubbing alcohol.
If you’re dealing with a small mealybug infestation on your houseplants, one effective spot treatment method is to use a 70% or less solution of isopropyl alcohol in water.
Dip cotton balls and swabs in alcohol and remove all visible mealybugs. Dab the mealybug-affected areas with the alcohol-soaked cotton swab. Spot treatments may be the best method for mealybug control on indoor plants.
After you have spot treated the affected areas, create a solution of 1 cup of alcohol, several drops of Dawn dish soap, and 1 quart of water.
Spray it on the entire plant, including the undersides of the leaves, the trunk, and the soil. Repeat this treatment once or twice a week until the infestation is gone.
You can use a spray bottle for this treatment step and spray the solution on the whole plant.
When mealy bugs are in the crawler stage, Neem oil, Insecticidal soap, and horticulture oil are good options to control the younger nymphs. A systemic insecticide may be needed for large mealybug infestations.
Chemical-Based Mealy Bug Control Methods
Chemical control is one option for controlling mealybugs, but it should only be used when other methods have failed since chemicals may harm beneficial organisms like bees or ladybeetles that help keep pest populations under control naturally in your garden.
Visiting your local garden center will provide lots of mealybug control possibilities. With all the insecticides on the shelves, look for one that kills mealybugs on garden or house plants. Follow the instructions to take care of the infestation.
Sooty molds sometimes become so dense that they reduce photosynthesis and ornamental plants’ vigor.
Keeping your Dracaena in the proper conditions will prevent a future infestation. Make sure your plant is getting the proper amount of light and water. Thriving plants can withstand pests better than sick ones.