Crassula argentea (KRASS-oo-la ar-JEN-tee-uh), better known as the jade plant, is popular among indoor plant enthusiasts.
Its low maintenance requirements and attractive pink blooms make it quite the conversation piece. 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.
Yet, this excellent houseplant, along with the many other types of jade plants, isn’t immune to infestations of plant bugs, and one of the most common pests is the cottony white mealybug.
Jade Plants are attacked by aphids, mealybugs, scale insects, and spider mites. They exude honeydew, which attracts black sooty mold that looks, frankly, quite ugly and dirty.
Mealybugs suck the sap out of the plant, removing color from the leaves and reducing vigor.
The good news is that only two of the estimated 275 US mealybug species attack jade plants.
The bad news is an adult female mealybug can lay anywhere from 100 to 600 eggs. And between two and six generations hatch per year, depending on the species.
Dealing with an infestation of these plant pests as soon as you spot them can mean the difference between quick extermination and a mortally wounded plant.
If you suspect something is wrong with your plant but you don’t see any evidence of pests on the leaves and stems, carefully remove the pot and inspect the root ball.
The most common fungal disease or infection to hit Jade Plants is powdery mildew, and spider mites start as a white powdery film on a few leaves.
It will spread to a thick layer of white dust along with sunken, withered leaves and stems. This issue is caused by overwatering and humid air, so dry the plant out and give it a little extra air circulation to help deal with humidity.
Spider mites are tiny bugs that can infest jade plants. Signs of spider mite infestation include yellowing and wilting of the foliage and the presence of small webbing between stems.
How To Get Rid Of Mealybugs On Jade Plant
There are several non-chemical pesticide methods for getting rid of common mealybug infestations.
The symptoms of their feeding are similar to the damage caused by above-ground mealybugs, including a reduction in vigor and yellowing leaves. Plus, the feeding sites provide excellent places for fungi to infect the roots.
Neem oil and isopropyl alcohol are the two most effective natural means. But always test your treatment on one of the leaves a day before to ensure it isn’t sensitive to these substances.
Related: Why Is My Jade Plant Dying?
Using Neem Oil
Neem oil is the go-to solution for most indoor plant infections due to its non-toxic nature and effectiveness.
One of the advantages of using neem oil is using it as both a soil soak and a foliar spray. Let the soil dry out slightly between waterings to ensure that root rot doesn’t become a problem.
Jade Plants that seem soft or discolored likely need less watering and more sunlight. Jade Plants should be dark green with firm leaves and stems.
Dilute concentrated neem oil to avoid chemical burns. Plants are often sensitive to pure neem. They usually congregate on the stems and undersides of leaves.
These bugs feed by piercing the plant’s tissue and sucking out its juices, which can weaken a jade plant over time.
To do this, first emulsify water by mixing ⅓ teaspoon of insecticidal soap, pure castile soap, or Dawn dish soap into a quart of water.
The soapy water loses surface tension, allowing the oil to mix.
Neem Soil Soak
The more practical route for an infestation of mealybugs is a neem soil drench or soak using 100% percent raw neem oil.
Add 1 ½ teaspoons of raw neem per quart of emulsified water. Pour 2 to 3 cups of the soak over the soil.
Not only will the neem soak kill any root mealybug, fungus gnats, and other houseplant bugs but the roots ingest the oil and turn it into a systemic insecticide.
Any houseplant pests that pierces the plant, such as mealybugs or scale insects, will ingest the neem. They will lose their appetite, fail to reach the next growth stage and become infertile.
NOTE: This treatment won’t immediately kill the bugs, so it might take two weeks to see results.
The soak remains potent for up to 22 days. Reapply every three weeks as a preventative measure.
Neem Foliar Spray
Neem foliar sprays use one teaspoon of clarified hydrophobic neem oil per quart of emulsified water. Apply using a spray bottle.
Spray the entire plant, especially the undersides of leaves and any small crevasses.
Spraying will affect the younger nymphs, but their waxy coating protects adult mealybug bodies.
Reapply the spray every other day for at least two weeks. It works best when combined with the soil soak.
Both isopropyl and rubbing alcohols can wipe out a mealybug infestation with excellent success rates. But it is time-consuming.
Take an alcohol-soaked cotton swab and lift each leaf to access the mealybugs. Two-spotted spider mites, Tetranychus urticae, like to sip on jade juice occasionally. These have light-colored bodies with two dark spots.
You will have to touch every mealybug with the swab for the treatment to be effective. But the rubbing alcohol quickly dissolves the protective waxy coating and kills the bug in the process.
This method works well on a newly infected plant but is primarily useless against a bad infestation.
Using Natural Predators Outdoors
In the event your jade plant is growing outside, you can use some natural garden pest exterminators.
They will also protect your outdoor plants against many other insect pests. But ants will sometimes try and defend mealybugs and other honeydew-producing insects.