How to Get Rid of Mealybugs From Your Succulents

How to get rid of Mealybugs on Succulents

Growing succulents is a captivating narrative wrapped up in a pleasant storyline. Think of it, succulents are some of the most adorable plant groups nature has to offer. From their cute, unique looks to their easy to handle maintenance qualities, succulents are no doubt a living room’s required occupant.

These popular, eye-catching plants set an ambiance of tranquility and charm. These qualities make succulents almost an obsession to most plant lovers.

However, as with any narrative, there will always be a horde of antagonists— the bad boys. Succulents are not exempt from a bunch of life-sucking, little pests that spread like a plague. The most common types of these annoying, itty bitty creatures are the mealybugs. And really, they’re quite a bug to succulent lovers. Mealybugs are without a doubt, the bane in the life of every gardener.


What are Mealybugs?

Typically found in warm climates, mealybugs are teensy, fuzzy, elliptical insects that are usually grey-white or light brown in color. These wingless, soft-bodied insects form cotton-like mounds or powdery blotches on leaves, stem, and fruits of affected plants. This white cottony substance is usually the earliest sign of a mealybug invasion, commonly mistaken for mildew or fungus.

Mealybugs survive by feeding off the plants sap found in the tissues. They use their long sucking mouthparts known as stylets to draw out tissue sap. Given the fleshy nature of fat plants, it’s no brainer why succulents are their favorites.

As mealybugs feed, they secrete honeydew, a sugary substance that makes the plant sticky and promotes the growth of sooty molds. These molds attract bacterial and fungal attacks on the plant. Low levels of mealybugs don’t pose much of a threat to succulents. However, as they multiply, the result is a weak plant characterized by yellow and curly leaves.

Mealybugs are very cheeky pests. They hide in leaf crevices, joints where stems and leaves meet, and even in the soil. They especially like to hang out in new growth parts so they can get a good tissue sap suck.

How to get rid of mealybugs on succulents

Mealybugs Lifecycle

Want to battle? Know your enemy.

The mealybugs that invade succulents and other plants are either females or juveniles. The males are wingless and lack a mouth. They don’t even buzz around plants. They are short-lived, with mating as their only purpose of existence. You can easily mistake them for wasps or flies.

A mealybug will take 7-10 weeks to complete its full life cycle. Eggs hatch into nymphs in two weeks while nymphs mature to adults in 6 to 9 months.

Mealybugs can occur in multiple generations with overlapping lifecycles. This means that their populations can grow exponentially once they invade a plant. The small-sized eggs and nymphs make it hard for mealybugs to get noticed. They only attract attention once their population explodes.

Mealybugs secrete a sugary substance (honeydew) that attracts ants. These ants act as protection for the mealybugs in exchange for the sweet stuff.

These female mealybugs lay approximately 600 eggs during their entire lifetime. Good thing is that they die after they run out of eggs (albeit leaving a gazillion junior mealybugs to carry on with the cycle).

Where do Mealybugs come from?

Mealybugs sneak up on you. One day your plants are looking all neat and green then the next day a whitish mist of cotton-like substance plagues your succulents. Mealybugs can come from anywhere. Take a look at the most common causes of mealybugs below.

  • A new plant brought indoors.
  • Planing your succulents on contaminated soil.
  • Summer’s warm climate.
  • Bringing vegetables, fresh flowers, or fruits from the garden.
  • Fresh produce from the grocery store.
Adult mealybug on green leaf

How to Get Rid of Mealybugs on Succulents

Fortunately, due to their slight lack of tenacity, there are a couple of ways to control mealybugs. You can use one or a combination of the following methods to combat against mealybug infestations on your beautiful succulents.

Quarantine Affected Plants

This is the first step to take when dealing with a mealybug invasion. Once they start multiplying, they spread like wildfire, jumping from one plant to the next.

Therefore, move the affected plant away from your other succulent plants. Be sure that the quarantined succulent plant is NOT within the same room as your other succulent plants.

Water Pressure

You can use mechanical pressure of water to hose off adult mealybugs and hopefully their eggs too. This is the simplest and the cheapest method.

To generate the desired pressure, simply place your thumb on a garden hose. You can also use your sink’s spray-faucet. Since mealybugs like hiding, a special succulent watering bottle may be helpful in reaching them in their leaf crevices. If you don’t have a set of these in your plant care kit, we highly recommend adding one. Keep a close watch on the plants and if the mealybugs rear their ugly heads, just repeat the treatment.

This method can work best in sturdier plants like cacti and agave but is unsuitable for brittle succulents like sedum morganianum, otherwise known as the burro’s tail.

Be careful not to drown your succulent with this method. Repot if necessary to avoid plant rot.

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Isopropyl Alcohol

A very effective and inexpensive solution that knocks those bad bugs off your succulents. Depending on the extent of the invasion, you can use a spray bottle or a simple Q-tip to remove these pests. For small infestations, simply dip a Q-tip in 70% isopropyl alcohol and gently scrub the affected plant.

If the majority of the plant is covered by the pests, use a wash bottle and spray the plant with isopropyl alcohol. Don’t worry about drowning the plant since the alcohol will quickly evaporate. (Obviously don’t spray it too much either, be considerate).

Pay close attention to their hiding places and saturate them with alcohol. After the alcohol has evaporated, all mealybugs should be dead in a few minutes. The grayish bugs turn deep red while the cottony substance disintegrates.

The 70% isopropyl alcohol is completely safe for succulents and they won’t get burnt or damaged. This is because succulents possess a thick cuticle, some sort of barrier found on the leaves to prevent liquids from getting in or out of them. This is the adaptation that’s behind their water-saving prowess.

3 x 950ml Bottles of 99.9+% Pure Isopropyl Alcohol Industrial...
Empty Amber Glass Spray Bottles with Labels (2 Pack) - 16oz...
3 x 950ml Bottles of 99.9+% Pure Isopropyl Alcohol Industrial...
Empty Amber Glass Spray Bottles with Labels (2 Pack) - 16oz...

Last update on 2021-10-27 / Amazon


How to get rid of mealybugs from succulent plants


This is an organic, broad-spectrum pest control product that is derived from neem oil. Not only is it effective against mealybugs, but also squashes aphids, spider mites, and other pests. This all-natural insecticide is highly lauded as an effective pesticide.

Azamax is dangerous to aquatic life so avoid using it near water features.

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Neem Oil

We’ve mentioned this in some of our previous articles but this antiseptic and antifungal pest control solution is an excellent fit for combating mealybugs. It keeps your succulent plants safe too!

We recommend this Neem Oil from Oleavine, it’s affordable and gets the job done! For general pest control simply add 1 Tablespoon per 1 Gallon, this Neem Oil is pretty strong!

Check the product label before using as it has to be diluted before using. Applying neem oil during the day may burn your plants due to the effect of the sun on the oil. Try applying neem oil on your mealybug infested succulent plant at night instead.

Last update on 2021-10-27 / Amazon


Biological Control Methods

You can introduce predators on your succulents that would love to feast on mealy bugs. A great example is a ladybug. They feed on several problematic pests, mealybugs included.

Alternatively, you can opt for the mealybug destroyer. Not kidding, that’s what a Cryptolaemus Montrouzieri does— it will literally crush mealybugs.

Introducing predators to snuff out mealybugs is a low-effort solution. This is best practiced in your outdoor garden as it might be tricky in houseplants. (You don’t want more bugs in your home anyways right?)


How to get rid of mealybugs using ladybugs

4 Tips to Keep Mealybugs Away

  1. Regularly check for any pests. Catching pests especially mealybugs early on makes a huge difference.
  2. If you spot ants around your plant, that may be a sign that mealybugs are present. Isolate your succulent plant and begin treatment right away.
  3. Be mindful to check for pest infestation when introducing a new succulent into your succulent garden.
  4. Use a potting mix that is free of any pests or eggs to your succulents.

If all else fails, it’s okay. Sometimes we can’t fix every issue that arises with succulents but that’s the beauty of plants in general. Growing these beautiful succulents comes with growing pains.

Did this article help answer your succulent-care questions? Succulent City is devoted to aiding all succulent lovers, and that’s why we created a line of ebook guides! Check out our in-depth tips on Different Types of Planters or even The Right Way to Propagating Succulents Successfully today!

If you enjoyed this article, give us a comment below! Let us know how you handle these pests, maybe we can learn something new too. Or come join the conversation in our exclusive Facebook group, Succulent City Plant Lounge. Also, be sure to subscribe and check for new activity on our Succulent City Youtube channel. We will be releasing some quality packed videos sure to delight all succulent enthusiasts. 



Mammillaria— The Pincushion Cactus, All About It

The pin cushion cactus mammilliaria

The pincushion cactus is just one of the huge collection of cacti available in beautiful homes and apartments. And in the wild for that matter.

It is already a sure thing that you’re interested in knowing more about this particular cactus. We know you want it to be part of your houseplants collection, plus it’s one of the most popular cacti out there.

If the pincushion cactus plant is already in your home, then you want to ensure it doesn’t just survive but thrives to change your home for the better. In other words, we always love when someone compliments our plants indoors, we appreciate them so much and i’m sure you do too!

And that’s exactly what you’ll walk away with at the end of this post. No holds barred; everything you need to know about the pincushion cactus plant.

Ready. Set. Go!

The pin cushion cactus mammilaria

The Pincushion Cactus

Scientific classification

The pincushion cactus is a common name for the variety of cacti in the genus Mammillaria of the family Cactaceae. With over 200 known species, Mammillaria is the largest genus in the family.

The first species was named back in the 16th century by Swedish scientist Carl Linnaeus. Cactus mammillaris was the name given with the second part of it being an alteration of the Latin word for nipple (mammila). It had all to do with the shape of this particular plant as you’ll see later.

Apart from pincushion cactus, other common names include:

  • Nipple cactus
  • Globe cactus
  • Fishhook cactus

Interesting names, right?

Well, here are some more of different species from this genus: Woolly Nipple, Old Lady, Cushion Fox tail and Owl’s eyes. Talk about a weird variety of cacti names!

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Being such a huge collection of species, Mammillaria is native to several countries. But a good deal of plants have their roots in Mexico. The remaining minority have been traced to have originated from

  • Venezuela
  • The Caribbean
  • The United States
  • Honduras
  • Colombia
  • Guatemala
The pin cushion cactus mammillaris


The pincushion cactus has a small size perfect for these cute owl planters we have in the office and other varied shapes as per the particular species. On average, it can grow to a height of up to 40 cm (15.75 in) and a diameter of up to 20 cm (7.87 in). Most plants are cylindrical, conical, round and pyramidal in shape.

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Some species of the pincushion cactus plant grow as loners while others throw up as much as 100 little ones around them. 

This spiny hardy pincushion cactus plant bears funnel-shaped flowers with a wide variety of colors – red, yellow, pink, white and greenish. The flowers later develop into fruits of a host of shapes and colors. These fruits can bear resemblance to a berry, be elongated or club-shaped. They’re usually red, but other common colors include white, green, magenta and yellow.

How to take care of Mammillaria

Nurturing the pincushion cactus plant is a breeze especially if you’re just getting started with houseplants. It is by nature, adapted to fight through harsh conditions.

So that goes to say that a little too much pampering on your side could prove to be fatal. But that doesn’t mean you completely forget about your plant. Here are a few care regimens to follow for the pincushion cactus plant.

Watering Mammillaria Plants

The general rule for succulents applies – not too much water.

That means you water over prolonged periods of time. But how long should you wait before watering your pincushion cactus again?

Depends with what the condition is of the topsoil that’s in your favorite pot.

Allow enough time for this top part to completely dry out before you water your pincushion cactus again. And when you do water, do it well, here’s a full in depth article for watering succulents that can be applied to cacti as well.

If you already have a plethora of knowledge in watering cacti or succulents, just remember to let the water run off before you stop, drainage holes are very important to both succulents and cacti.

Tip: During winter, cease watering for the whole season.

If you are unsure of how much water to give your pincushion cactus or other succulents be sure to join Succulent City Plant Lounge on Facebook to have an exclusive member answer your questions for you. The community is rapidly growing, don’t miss out on the succulent fun!

Pin cushion cactus mammillaris

Ideal Temperature for Mammillaria Plants

Cold temperatures are a deal-breaker for the pincushion cacti, it’s not like they have cute “plants are friends” sweaters laying around the office. So winter can be a rough season for them if you’ve set them up outdoors. Consider bringing them inside as the cold catches on.

For best growth, these plants need temperatures of between 10°C to 24°C (50°F to 75.2°F).

In short, warm is the way to go. To lear more about winter for succulents read: “How To Take Care of Succulents in The Winter”.

Soil Mix that Works well with Mammillaria Cacti

The soil mix is of ultimate importance for the pincushion cactus.

Because, even if you’re keeping your watering far apart, the soil should drain faster to provide the ideal growth for your pincushion cactus plant. Remember it doesn’t need that much water just like other cacti plants.

So your potting mix should be ideal for cactus growth. Either buy the commercial cactus and succulent mix or prepare your own at home by mixing regular potting soil, pumice and coarse sand in measured quantities.

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Fertilizing Your Mammillaria Cactus

This isn’t much of a bother but it definitely goes a long way in improving the general development of your plant.

You can incorporate a slow-release fertilizer in the potting mix above and you’ll be set for life. Or, for even better results, use a specially-formulated feed for cacti every other two weeks during the growth period – any other season except winter.

The pin cushion cactus mammillaris

Giving Enough Sunlight for Your Mammillaria Cactus

The pincushion cacti love light. Lots of it. Be sure to give your pincushion cactus plenty of light, for this particular plant, a normal grow light might not be sufficient enough in case you were wondering.

Therefore, it’s only sensible that you give your pincushion cactus the sunlight love it deserves as much as possible. They will appreciate you with all the colors they can get (recall them from above).

As if we can’t say it enough, basically, they thrive on full day sunlight all year round.

How to Propagate Pincushion Cactus

The pincushion cactus can be propagated through two simple ways; offsets and seeds.

For offsets, all you need to do is to pluck them from the mother plant. Careful, don’t hurt the plant or your hands use gardening gloves if you can. Now, allow the cut part to dry up for a few days and pot the pups in a well-draining soil mix.

Side note: Speaking of the PinCushion Cacti, we have succulent pins of all kinds, pinning it on your book bag or tote like us in the office is the way to go, they’re just super cute!

For seeds, the process should start off in spring. Use a cacti-mix-filled flat. Sow the seeds on top of the mix and lightly cover them with sand. Keep the top moist and store this set up in a warm place. Ideal temperature should not be less than 21°C (69.8°F). Remember to be watering the mix so that the seeds don’t dry out.

Pot the plants when they’ve grown to a considerable size.

For more tips and tricks read: “5 Tips For Propagating Succulents”.

Repotting the Pincushion Cactus

Repotting cacti is an essential step for most succulents, if not all. Especially for the pincushion cactus that bares offsets.

As a rule, repot when the roots start showing through the drainage holes in the post. Also, when pups have filled up the container.

Before embarking on this process, be sure to loosen up the soil using something like a blunt knife or your normal gardening tool. And the soil here should be dry. Once again, dry, that’s a very important detail to keep in mind when repotting.

Use a pot just large enough for the plant. Not something major. Again, beware of the spikes. You can use a rolled up once of cloth or thick gloves to stay in the safe. 

New to repotting plants? Check out our tailor-made guide: “How to Repot A Cactus Plant (Beginners Guide)”

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Last update on 2021-10-27 / Amazon

The pin cushion cactus plant mammillaris

The Pincushion Cactus Pests and Diseases Problems

The most common types of pests affecting the Mammillaria plants are mealybugs and scale bugs.

Obviously, they are going to negatively interfere with your plant’s growth. So, it’s important to wipe them away as soon as you spot them. Control their spreading by separating affected plants from the rest of the pack. Spray the affected plants with an effective pesticide or a mixture of rubbing alcohol and water.

The pincushion cactus isn’t prone to disease. But watch out for any signs of rot – majorly due to overwatering habits.

Uses of the Pincushion Cactus

How many colors have you read so far in connection to the pincushion cactus? A lot! From the tubercles themselves to the flowers and fruits. They’re quite a number.

To have such colors in your home can be a nice feeling. For this reason, these cacti are grown for their colors. They are valuable collections for anyone who fancies themselves as gardeners. 

Where Can I Buy the Pincushion Cactus?

The pin cushion cactus mammillaris

Just about everywhere with a succulents’ section. For online, you can check out Amazon, Mountain Crest Gardens, Leaf and Clay and Succulent Gardens.

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For offline purchases be sure to browse around in your local nurseries. Here’s a full article on where you can buy succulents and cacti both online and offline.

Thinking of getting a pincushion cactus for yourself now? Comment below if you’re going to get one soon!

If you’d like, share it with us in the Succulent City Plant Lounge, I’m sure the exclusive members would love to hear how you take care of your pincushion cactus.

Loved learning about this pincushion cactus succulent and now inspired to add more to your collection?! (We don’t blame you) Check out Succulent City’s new line of ebooks covering topics from, “All the Types of Succulents for Indoor and Outdoor,” “Different Types of Planters,” and many more helpful in-depth ebooks. Head to this link to view our full line of ebooks and get started with our complimentary guide. 



How to Get Rid of Fungus Gnats with Ease

Get Rid of Fungus Gnats With Ease

Fungus gnats are tiny mosquito-like bugs that are attracted to the moisture in the soil. They like to make plants like yours their home and lay hundreds of eggs in the soil. Rude! Read on to learn how to get rid of fungus gnats with ease!

Left unchecked, a fungus gnat infestation can damage and even kill your plants. That’s why you have to get rid of fungus gnats as soon as you notice them! 

To help you get rid of fungus gnats, we’ve written up this short post on how to stop fungus gnats in their tracks without too much effort on your part. Keep reading to learn how to kill fungus gnats and keep them from coming back in the future!

Get Rid of Fungus Gnats With Ease
Fungus gnats are tiny mosquito-like bugs

How to Stop Fungus Gnats 

Adult fungus gnats only live for about a week, but in that time, they may lay up to 300 of their eggs in your plant’s soil. Yikes… that’s a lot of eggs! 

The adult gnats themselves are generally harmless, but the larvae that hatch from all those eggs will feed on the roots of your plant and start to hurt it. As your plant’s roots become damaged, you may start seeing dropped, yellowing leaves, a slowdown in plant growth, wilting, and other signs of root damage. If the infestation continues, your succulent may even die! So the key to preventing damage to your plant is stopping the fungus gnat infestation as soon as you notice it around your garden. 

Set up a trap

To stop the gnat infestation, you should create a trap for the gnats that they can’t escape, such as an apple cider vinegar trap. To make one, grab a shallow container and fill it up with equal parts water and apple cider vinegar. Add a few drops of liquid dish soap and then stir the mixture together. Place the container either on top of the soil of your affected plant or near its pot. 

This trap works so well because the vinegar attracts the gnats to the container and then the dish soap weighs them down and traps them there. You’ll have to empty out the bugs every few days and mix up more of that apple cider vinegar mixture, so this trap requires a little bit of maintenance. But it’s definitely one of the easiest and most effective solutions for killing fungus gnats!

Another thing you can try is adding diatomaceous earth on top of your succulent soil. It’s a very effective abrasive powder that won’t hurt your plant but will stick to the fungus gnats and immobilize them. After a while of being trapped, they’ll become dehydrated and die off. Take that fungus adult gnat! 

Be sure to also check out5 Tips on Saving Dying Succulents to see helpful info on saving your succulents from other dangers.

Keep Fungus Gnats From Coming Back 

To keep fungus gnats from coming back in the future, make sure that you don’t overwater your succulent. Fungus gnats are attracted to moisture in the soil, so allowing your plant to dry out in between waterings will make fungus gnats less likely to congregate around it. You should also make sure that there isn’t any plant debris in your plant’s pot, such as fallen leaves. Fungus gnats like moist soil with lots of decaying leaves and plant matter, so if you keep your plant’s pot clean and dry, they’re less likely to make it their next home. 


Get Rid of Fungus Gnats With Ease
Damaged Succulent

There you have it! That’s everything we know about fungus gnats and how to stop them. We hope that this post helps you control the infestation and keep those pesky little fungus gnats away for good.

Did this article help answer your succulent-care questions? We sure hope so! If not, no worries. Succulent City is devoted to aiding all succulent lovers, and that’s why we created a line of ebook guides! Check out our in-depth tips on Essential Tools for Planting the Best Succulents or even The Most Common Issues Amongst Succulent Growers today!  

Happy planting! ?