Succulent with cracked, scabby leaves

Succulent Pests and Problems Q&A Forum

Got a mystery malady?

Start with this site's Succulent Pests, Diseases and Problems resource page, where you'll find 30+ succulent concerns. For each I show a photo, explain the severity (from normal to fatal), describe the problem, and tell what action to take if any.

Not finding what you need?

Please post a comment below, so others can see it and benefit from the answer as well. Your own tried-and-true solutions are welcome, too!

This page is a forum for you to ask questions and share what works for you. 

So, if you have pests, problems or concerns that aren't answered elsewhere, do let me know...HERE please, rather than emailing me---unless you absolutely need to...

...Send a Photo?

WordPress won't let you attach photos to comments. (I think they're trying to protect me from porn.) However, you can always reply to one of my email newsletters with a photo attached. Keep it clean, ha. 

Need a Good Laugh?

If you have a skunk, here's what NOT to do. (Filmed by Jeanne Meadow in her succulent garden. Her poor husband!)

Related info

Succulent roots gone (c) Debra Lee Baldwin

Uh-oh, Is My Succulent Sick? Common pests, diseases and problems, plus solutions

Succulent Pests, Diseases and Problems Keep your succulents healthy, happy and looking their very best WEEVIL ALERT: The agave snout-nosed weevil is a major pest in ever-increasing numbers. Don’t wait for signs of infestation; take preventative measures NOW to protect your agaves, furcraeas, yuccas, beaucarneas and mangaves. Please don’t let your yard become a breeding ground for pests that move…

Agave snout weevil damage (c) Debra Lee Baldwin

Agave Snout Weevil Prevention and Treatment

Agave snout-nosed weevil is a half-inch-long black beetle with a downward-curving proboscis that enables it to pierce an agave’s core, where it lays its eggs. Grubs hatch, consume the agave’s heart, then burrow into the soil to pupate.

Enjoyed this article? Please share it!
Echeveria being sprayed (c) Debra Lee Baldwin

How to Deal with Mealy Bugs on Succulents

If you grow succulents, sooner or later you’ll deal with mealy bugs. For newbies, mealies often come as a surprise. Suddenly the plants are dotted and webbed with what looks like lint. Veterans are more vigilant. We check for

Enjoyed this article? Please share it!
Enjoyed this article? Please share it!

81 Comments

  1. Lizzy on July 5, 2019 at 1:27 pm

    Hi Debra ,
    I have learned a lot from your site about succulents and their care.
    Especially helpful to me is the information you provided on the snout nose weevil.
    Unfortunately, all of my various agaves have been attacked. It took me over 3 hours to dig up around 50 in various sizes. Many more hours treating the soil for the larve and the plants. I was able to save 90 percent.
    I am so glad you included the information on the treatment and prevention. By the way, most folks I talk to are unaware of the pest even at some major nursery’s in the north county of San Diego where I reside. It’s hard to believe that most people are unaware of this garden pest!

    • Debra Lee Baldwin on July 5, 2019 at 1:39 pm

      Hi Lizzy — I know. Drives me nuts. I do my best to get the word out, but you’re right, most folks and even nursery employees are unaware of agave snout-nose weevil. I guess no one wants to hear bad news or to be told they need to tackle an unpleasant, time-consuming task. It’s only the true gardeners—people like you, me and Jeanne Meadow—who want to know what’s threatening our private Edens and quickly take action to prevent it. But hey, isn’t it terrific that you salvaged 90%? Round of applause, girl! That’s how it’s done! — Debra

      • Hannah on September 1, 2021 at 4:29 pm

        Hi Debra I am in central California and some of my succulents are wrinkling and are black or have black spots at the beginning of the leaf where it connects to the stem. We have treated these succulents to a systemic insecticide three or four weeks ago. Some of the leaves have turned brown at the end and some of the stems are black

        • Debra Lee Baldwin on September 1, 2021 at 4:57 pm

          Hi Hannah — Can you be more specific about what kind of succulent they are? There are so many! If you’d like to email me photos, you can do so in response to my newsletter. (You can sign up on the Home page and unsubscribe any time.)

  2. Richard Slechta on July 5, 2019 at 2:16 pm

    Hi Debra,
    Such a helpful guide to those tricky pests and problems.

    What can you tell us about why Aloe tips turn brown? I’ve seen it on several varieties of mine and in others gardens, but most common on the ones with longer leaves, like Marlothii and Dichotoma. It doesn’t resemble a insect pest damage, nor from physical trauma. I’m in Los Angeles about 5 miles from the coast, so we do get dew regularly.
    Thanks for any tips you can offer.
    Cheers, Richard

    • Debra Lee Baldwin on July 5, 2019 at 2:39 pm

      Hi Richard — Yep. Right now I have an Aloe thraskii that has unsightly browned (then whitened) leaf tips, and I’m debating what to do about it. On the one hand, they protect the rest of the leaf and those beneath from harsh sun and temperature extremes. On the other, I’m tired of looking at them. To answer your question, leaf tip desiccation is usually an aftermath of frost or scorching sun. It can also be related to under-watering…the plant can’t manage to pump water all the way to the tips (not enough hydraulic pressure). It’s not caused by overwatering…that’s when the core rots, not the tips. Some species are prone to leaf-tip desiccation, especially spotted ones (A. maculata and hybrids) and IMHO the way the dry tips curl looks kind of cool. When trimming any pointed succulent leaf (including agaves), make two cuts to create an outward-pointing “V,” so the cut isn’t as noticeable as straight across. Thanks for the comment!

  3. Karen on July 5, 2019 at 5:46 pm

    I have squirrels chewing on my succulents. Any advice?

    • Debra Lee Baldwin on July 5, 2019 at 6:57 pm

      If you live in an area where predators like coyotes are kept out (like a gated community), bunnies and squirrels may be prolific. Some measures that can help include: Installing an owl box; dusting the plants with crushed red chilis or spraying a squirrel repellent. Also there are solar- and battery-powered electronic devices that emit a high-frequency sound that repels squirrels and the like. This one, for about $30 on Amazon, can be set for cats, dogs, skunks, squirrels and raccoons.

      • George Tabora on July 13, 2019 at 11:39 am

        I actually caught one this morning using a trap. I wanted to post a picture here but I do not know how. However, Amazon sells a similar trap for $20, called “Heavy Duty Squirrel Trap Chipmunk Trap and Other Similar-Size Rodents”. If you have a garden, you must have one of these because it is the only product I know that works every time. (Very good in catching rabbits, too). I used four pieces of almonds as bait. Any nuts, except peanuts, will do as bait for squirrels. Make sure that you release the squirrel far from your garden because squirrels will easily find their way back to your garden if released nearby. It is worth driving a couple of miles away to release this creature in the open. Good Luck!

        • Debra Lee Baldwin on July 13, 2019 at 1:28 pm

          Hi George — Good to know, especially about the almonds. No wonder squirrels leave my bird feeders alone. I’ve read that squirrels can find their way home if released within 7 miles. (They did studies after painting tails, transporting, and releasing.) Now here’s the thing: No one wants a squirrel released on their property, and it’s illegal to release one on public land, so where do you take it? Maybe to the beach (beyond the surf break)? Don’t answer that.

          • George Tabora on July 13, 2019 at 7:56 pm

            Hi Debra – Good point. One must check with their Fish and Game local agency office to make sure regulations are abided by when dealing with game and non-game mammals.



          • Connie Beck on December 9, 2020 at 12:07 pm

            I’m pretty sure it is against state law to take rodents and vermin off your own property. Besides, when you dump them someplace else they are in an established area for others of their kind, and those others are not welcoming: they kill the dropped off intruders. If you are going to catch them you probably should just drown them on your own property.



          • Debra Lee Baldwin on December 9, 2020 at 1:28 pm

            Yep. I agree.



  4. Monica Mosack on July 22, 2019 at 12:55 pm

    I have raccoons in my neighborhood. My front yard is full of succulents and vegetable plants. The raccoons paw through the dirt at night looking for delicious grubs. I placed medium sized black lava rocks around the roots of my vegetable plants. The raccoons can dig for grubs in areas between the plant rows. Works for all of us. I used to have bunnies and squirrels in my backyard. Getting 4 dogs seems to have solved that problem. The only animal brave enough to go back there is the opossum who taunts the dogs from the fence.

  5. Kristi on December 6, 2020 at 9:55 am

    Help!!!! At my wits end with an infestation of what I think is mealy bugs on my beloved Jade plant. I’ve sprayed the plant with 70% Isopropyl alcohol repeatedly and still have a problem. Not too mention hard to spray in the shower with the smell!!! I live in Denver so needless to say its cold here! There is damage/scarring where the leaves meet the stem and in the middle of some of the leaves. The plant is very big and dense so its difficult to spray into the middle and hit all the leaves and underneath. The plant is very heavy but we do have some warmer weather this week that I can take it outside to spray the plant with alcohol heavily. Short of cutting off every leaf, is there anything else I can try? Is there a safe systemic insecticide to try? I have all your books, watch your You Tube videos and follow you on Instagram! I feel I am doing what I need to do but don’t seem to getting rid of these pests! Before I get overcome with alcohol or do major surgery, do you have any suggestions?
    I so appreciate your help! Keep up the good work!
    Thanks, Kristi

    • Debra Lee Baldwin on December 6, 2020 at 3:53 pm

      Hi Kristi —

      Once a mealy bug infestation gets that bad, conventional wisdom is to get rid of the plant. But this one is important to you, so here are some things to try:

      — Take it outside on a warm day (above 40 degrees) and hose it down. It’s OK if some leaves fall off. If they’re that loose, they probably would anyway.

      — Repot it. Mealies can get in the soil.

      — If that’s not possible, fill a bucket with water and add systemic insecticide “for sucking insects” and use per label directions. Wear gloves. Brands available on Amazon are BioAdvanced and Monterey Systemic Soil Drench. Let sit until the soil is soaked—an hour or so.

      — After it’s hosed (and/or soaked), drench leaves and stems with dilute insecticide. Let the plant dry before bringing it back into the house.

      OK, now the bugs are killed. You still need to prevent an infestation from recurring.

      — Do NOT put the plant back where it was. However, DO clean the area thoroughly, because mealies can hide in, and lay eggs in, the tiniest crevices.

      — Check other potted plants for the pests. Indoor plants can be breeding grounds. Get rid of or isolate any that have the problem. Treat with alcohol. If plants are severely infested but are worth saving, follow the steps above.

      — Good air circulation is key to keeping airborne pests from settling in. To help it recover over the winter, you might put your jade under full-spectrum lights and use a fan (both on a 12-hour timer).

      — Consider thinning it out so air circulates through the plant. Jade cuttings are as good as having new plants, they’re that easy to start.

      Keep me posted on the patient’s progress!

  6. James Maeding on December 9, 2020 at 11:31 am

    Hi Debra,
    The mealy bug topic could use some more info I think.
    How do those insects spread in the first place, besides a human moving them maybe by using contaminated soil from another plant with them? I think its ants that plant them, to then eat the sticky stuff they seem to make.
    Will they crawl from plant to plant, fly?
    Is the tiny crawling form a larvae that will turn into a fly?
    That matters as it explains how they might spread, and what stage we are killing them at, and what chemicals work on what stage.
    I use Bioadvanced 3 in 1 insect disease and mite control, not the one you listed. I use it on all plants in the yard and it works pretty well.
    However, the mealys that hide under mounds of spempervivums are hard to get at. Even if you re-pot, they can hide in the soil and leaves.
    I think that soil drench might be the trick.
    I also use a toothbrush to remove them from leaves, so physical attention pays.
    Anyway, would like to know more on how these things seem to survive and spread more, as things like ant spray might be in order too.

    • Debra Lee Baldwin on December 9, 2020 at 1:14 pm

      Hi James — Thank you for a well-thought-out comment. I do have an entire page devoted to mealy bugs that addresses much of this. The pests weigh less than nothing, so when plants are outdoors (or indoors with good air circulation) mealies generally aren’t a problem. On the other hand, their ubiquity is largely due to their landing on plants just like bits of dust do. Yes, they pupate, but they don’t fly. Re using a toothbrush, that might be OK on sempervivums, which have leaves like crisp paper, but it might damage the softer tissues of echeverias (which are candy to mealies) and certainly aeoniums, which tend to show black marks as a result of abrasion.

  7. Carole on January 16, 2021 at 10:13 am

    My Euphorbia Lactea ‘White Ghost’ has developed blackish-brown rings. Any idea how I treat this, please? You are welcome to use the picture if you’ve come across this before.

    • Debra Lee Baldwin on January 16, 2021 at 12:23 pm

      Hi Carole — Uh-oh. Sounds like rot. It’s super easy to overwater these plants. And even if you don’t, they’re finicky. Also possibly sunburn. You may need to take cuttings of the healthy tissue and restart it in fresh soil.

      • Izzy on January 22, 2021 at 6:41 am

        Hello, I am unsure what has happened to my cactus! Half of it has started to be covered by a sort of peeley white/ light brown layer and I am not sure what to do with it. I’d love to leave a picture but I can’t put it in the box.. thank you!

        • Debra Lee Baldwin on January 22, 2021 at 10:53 am

          Hi Izzy — Sure sounds like a classic case of sunburn. Did you move it so that the side that was normally shaded was exposed? Happens all the time. Plus certain cacti are sensitive. WordPress won’t take comments with photos attached. But you can send a photo in a reply to my email newsletter.

          • Izzy on January 29, 2021 at 3:11 am

            Thank you! I did turn it around when I watered it I think, thanks for your advice! Do you know if there is a way to help get rid of it please?



          • Debra Lee Baldwin on January 29, 2021 at 10:25 am

            Hi Izzy — Patience, hon. There’s no fixing it, but it will outgrow the damage as new leaves form and old ones are concealed and eventually wither and fall off.



    • Raquel on March 30, 2022 at 12:41 pm

      My euphorbia ammaks has maybe the same issue yet I can not find ANYTHING online about it. Mine are pink polka dots and rings with some having brown or black centers and only on the Sun side. I’m not sure if they were inside before I purchased them but they’ve been in the same spot for months now maybe even a year and I live in seascape (Santa Cruz county between watsonville and Aptos)

      I took it out of the ground and realized that it’s riots are minimal and not all that healthy looking which could be because I still had a bit of the original rock hard clay nearby beneath it. Not directly beneath. Just nearby on the lower end of the “pseudo slope” I have been trying to create. I’ve been working on a this area for years. low budget style unfortunately. Very recently I’ve been adding a lot of builders Sand and some compost and some perlite however I need to based on the suggestions I have found through the resources you have provided in your site. I am finally coming to the finale of this landscaping project, more like an endless struggle, and this euphorbia has been my inspiration for the entire design! I love it. Can I save it? At this point I am really getting so discouraged about the entire situation.

      I dislike clay. Passionately.

  8. Selena on February 15, 2021 at 12:41 pm

    Hi, I got this succulent in November to put in my dorm in the hallway/sink area. It usually gets splashed by a little water when someone uses the sink but not a lot. Above the sinks there is a light that’s usually always on. I noticed these brown spots only on this one succulent so I moved it to my room so it can sit on my window. It’s been a couple days and it’s still like this. What am I doing wrong?

    • Debra Lee Baldwin on February 17, 2021 at 9:05 am

      (Selena emailed me a photo. You can do that too by simply clicking “reply” in response to one of my newsletters.)

      Hi Selena — The plant in the foreground (Echeveria agavoides) is highly sensitive to overwatering. You can see it in my video on checking succulents after rainstorms (mine has red edges due to greater sunlight). You’ll find the first 2:10 minutes of the video the most helpful.

      The succulents in back—aloe and crassula—are not as sensitive, but if it IS rot, it may spread through the soil and affect them as well. Remove, repot in fresh potting soil, give more light, and water sparingly. Remove any squishy leaves. (I’m guessing the lower ones might be.)

      I’m concerned there may be unhealthy pathogens in the soil that the plants are growing in, so I’d rather you didn’t reuse it. You can buy a bagful of potting soil on Amazon for $4.99, or find it at any garden center. Or maybe drop by the gardening maintenance area of the college and ask for a few cupfuls. They probably have a mountain of it.
      LMK how it goes —
      Debra

  9. Shelley on March 2, 2021 at 8:49 am

    Hi there! I bought a succulent log arrangement in the last month, and the one succulent in it has recently developed a problem and I can’t figure out what’s causing it! Someone has suggested that my house is too dry – but I’m not sure if that would cause these black/white spots to develop? I have watered it, but tried to be careful not to overwater! I’ve sent a picture, hoping you can help me 🙂 Thanks!

    • Debra Lee Baldwin on March 2, 2021 at 6:40 pm

      Hi Shelley — I’m guessing some sort of fungus, so if anything your house is not dry enough. The plants are starved for light—the way they’re showing a lighter green closer to the stem means they’re flattening to expose more tissue to available sun. Those crusty patches on the jade are troubling too, also possibly fungus or something more serious. Can you move it outdoors, but not into full sun right away? It needs time to acclimate. Keep it on the dry side. No water for awhile. I’m concerned those plants may rot.

  10. Erika Avina on March 3, 2021 at 4:04 pm

    Hi Debra!

    I have/had a serious mycoplasma infection in my succulent planters (1/2 barrels) and have pulled out all the plants and trashed them. The plants more affected were my Dick Wright hybrids and echeverias prone to being a bit more fussy (warty hybrids are my faves- sea dragon, etna, etc). I had some Aeonium and hardier echeverias that were spared but lived next to diseased plants. Should those be tossed too? This is my 17th year growing succulents and a devastating first for me.

    They all were in 2 half wine barrel planters My question for you is this: should I toss all the soil? Should I be concerned about the other plants in my yard? Is this infection airborne at all?

    The soils used was not the issue. It was plants introduced to the barrels about 6 weeks ago. They were from a trusted seller and I didn’t quarantine like I usually do.

    Any insight would be much appreciated.
    Erika

    • Debra Lee Baldwin on March 3, 2021 at 4:44 pm

      Hi Erika — Yes, toss the soil. Don’t just dump it in the garden or compost pile, bag it for the trash. Repot possibly infected plants in fresh soil in pots where you can keep an eye on them. Disinfect the half barrels with dilute bleach before reusing them. As far as I know, this isn’t an airborne pathogen, but it seems likely wet soils could transmit it from one part of a garden to another. Important: Let the “trusted seller” know that they’re selling diseased plants, and ask for your money back! Btw, I updated the mycoplasma info on the Pests and Diseases Page recently, so be sure to check it out if you haven’t already. (Scroll down to “Crackled, Scabby Patches.”) Let me know how it goes—I’m rooting for you (no pun intended).

      • Erika Avina on March 3, 2021 at 8:35 pm

        Thank you for your reply, Debra. I so appreciate it.

        • Debra Lee Baldwin on March 4, 2021 at 8:30 am

          My pleasure, Erika!

          • Jennifer Simon on April 26, 2021 at 9:25 pm

            I have recently discovered (thanks to your site) that I have had a E. red prince with a mycoplasma infection. It has been tossed along with the soil and some propped babies. Unfortunately it was in the same condition for a long time and I am unsure whether some issues that I’m seeing on other plants (some that were nearby and some that weren’t) are the beginnings of mycoplasma or some other type of damage or infection. I’ve had issues with mealies in the past but haven’t seen any in a while and have never seen any on the plants in question.



          • Debra Lee Baldwin on April 30, 2021 at 3:59 pm

            Apologies for the delay in getting back to you. Yes it looks like mycoplasma, and unfortunately there’s no cure for it. It’s in the soil, so don’t reuse it.

            I’ve corresponded with others who have had the same disappointment, and it can be heartbreaking. It’s important to let the nursery know that they’re selling infected plants. I’d ask them for a refund. If they offer you replacement plants or try to blow you off, I’d get heavy with them and say you don’t want to take any chances, and want your money back or you’ll post a warning about them on one of the big succulent Facebook groups. I’m not kidding. It’s just wrong. And it makes me mad!



  11. Michelle on March 7, 2021 at 5:07 pm

    I have a few green aeoniums that continue to grow in diameter but this year a couple of them have this odd yellow splotchiness. The splotches don’t look mushy and they aren’t dry. The texture of the leaves is uniform but the color is not. I’ve been searching the internet for an answer but I haven’t seen any photos of it. I don’t know if it’s a sun issue or a nutrient issue. Maybe they encountered cold or hot weather one day? (I’m in San Francisco.) I am hoping it’s not some kind of pest or infection. Any ideas? I wish I could post a photo!

    • Debra Lee Baldwin on March 9, 2021 at 1:38 pm

      I sent Michelle a direct email so she could reply with a photo attached. (You can also send me photos in reply to my e-newsletters.)

      The yellow spots appear scalloped in places—so odd. The good news is that the plant looks healthy otherwise. It may just be a harmless plant virus, in which case you’ve got something intriguing but probably not valuable. (Not like, say, the plant virus that makes certain tulips desirable.)

      As to how your aeonium caught it, it’s hard to say, but I wouldn’t worry about it. The new growth in the center looks unaffected, but may show symptoms as it matures, if I’m right about it being a virus.

      I’m curious how the plant will look in a few months or so. Would you send more photos later on? In the meantime, I’ll be on the lookout for a succulent expert who might know.

      Thanks for an intriguing challenge —

  12. Daniela on April 13, 2021 at 7:41 pm

    Two of my new succulents (pachyphytum oviferum and the other is a hookeri in a different pot) have several leaves that have bursted open dropping this little dark green pebbles that look like insect eggs leaving the leaves hollow, just the carcass. The green pebbles dry out in a few hours turning brown looking like bird droppings. I’ve removed the empty dry leaves and the stem and remaining leaves look healthy. I don’t understand what happened? Is this going to happen again? Is there something I should do? I couldn’t find anything on the topic in the web. I found a caterpillar on one of the plants if that’s helpful but they both come from different nurseries and keep them in different rooms. I have over 150 different kinds of succulents and had never seen this.

    • Debra Lee Baldwin on April 15, 2021 at 10:48 am

      Ew. I hope someone else is familiar with this, because I’m not. It’s worthy of a horror movie. Where are you located? SO important to know when discussing insect pests.

    • Patrice on May 30, 2021 at 9:56 pm

      Sounds like some some sort of worm to caterpillar is gnawing on your plant. When I see green or brown things that look like droppings along with hollowed out stems and leaves on any of my plants, I go on the hunt for the caterpillar invaders.

  13. Kay on May 1, 2021 at 5:04 pm

    Hello. One of my succulents has white spores popping up on its arms. The succulent looks kinda like a bunch of noodles and I could not find the name of it. I am worried it could make my other succulents sick. I do not know if it is supposed to grow cotton fluff looking things and I could not find a picture of something similar growing on a succulent online.

    • Debra Lee Baldwin on May 3, 2021 at 10:42 am

      Hi Kay — I’ll take a look. Cotton fluff sounds like mealy bug. Isolate it from your other plants before it spreads. Spray it and any nearby plants with 70% isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol.

  14. Bruce Lamott on May 3, 2021 at 11:46 am

    Hi Debra, Something is eating the tops off of my otherwise healthy aeoniums, some of which are 3′ tall. There is no sign of insect pests (including snails and slugs) and some of the affected branches are too thin to support the weight of a squirrel or raccoon. There’s also no evidence on the ground of discarded leaves. The damage occurs quite suddenly, and the branches are chewed down to the stem. Any ideas?

    • Debra Lee Baldwin on May 6, 2021 at 2:50 pm

      Hi Bruce — Sure sounds like a varmint of some kind. The stems in the photos you sent look sturdy enough to me to support the weight of a mouse, small rat or squirrel (which are mostly fur), and raccoons might simply pull downward on the stems to access the tops. A friend in Pasadena lost her aeoniums to deer. But why would deer nibble the outer leaves and not the centers? Again, sounds more like a smaller critter.

  15. Holly McKelvey on May 22, 2021 at 10:18 am

    I have large in-ground Agave Blue Flame and Attenuata, I’ve been growing successfully for 8-10 years., in the Bay Area. Several now have what looks popped bumps that ooze sap. Then leave a hole. My local nursery suggested maybe poor drainage catching up with them and their roots sitting in water. Which is weird since they’ve been growing beautifully and pupping like crazy for years. I’m at a complete loss, since it seems like several are suffering, which suggests a disease as opposed to environmental situation? Please HELP! Thank you!

    • Debra Lee Baldwin on May 22, 2021 at 2:24 pm

      Hi Holly — First off, ‘Blue Flame’ is prone to abraded areas on the inner leaves near the trunk. It’s normal for the plant. (I know, go figure.) This may be similar or not at all related to blistering caused by agave edema, which results from irregular watering (long stretches of dryness followed by drenching rain). Edema happened to one of my large agaves when unbeknownst to me, an irrigation pipe started leaking underneath it. You can imagine how difficult THAT was to repair. You can see a photo of Agave Edema on the Pests and Problems page. The blistering doesn’t go away, nor do the exposed abraded areas, but other than being unsightly, they don’t seem to compromise the health of the plants. — Debra

  16. Rick B on June 1, 2021 at 6:45 am

    Hi Debra,
    Thanks for the thorough overview of pests on succulents and agave. I have a large yard with a wide variety of cactus, agave and aloe. A number of the plants ( Dracaena Draco, bromeliads and Agave Attenuata) have small white specks on their leaves. The specks seem to come on quickly this winter. I’m concerned that the spots lead to fungual infestation. I live in San Diego about 1.5 miles from the ocean. I have pictures that I can send although I don’t see a way to add them to this post.

    Any help on how to address this problem would be greatly appreciated.
    Thank you,
    Rick

  17. Debra Lee Baldwin on June 1, 2021 at 4:03 pm

    Hi Rick — You and everyone else! Honey, it’s hail damage. The plants will outgrow it.

  18. Frances Robinson on June 28, 2021 at 12:56 pm

    Debra, I have a Crown of Thorns plant about 2 feet high. I’ve grown this for multiple years. About 25% of the stems haven’t added new leaves or bloomed in about 5 months. I pruned these stems today but was surprised to find they were hollow and I didn’t see any sap. This is a house plant in a S facing window. the other stems are blooming. I use a moisture meter to be sure it is dry before I water, usually about every 8 days. I use a constant feed 20-20-20 house plant fertilizer on this, along with most of my house plants. Can you tell me what the problem is and whether I should remove these stems entirely. I repotted this plant about a year ago in Cactus mix. Thanks in advance for replying.

  19. Debra Lee Baldwin on June 28, 2021 at 7:18 pm

    Hi Frances — It sounds like you’ve done everything right. Yes, remove them. Not only are dead stems unsightly, they may harbor disease. I hope someone else has a suggestion for you, because I’m as mystified as you are.

  20. Mitzi Hyland on August 16, 2021 at 8:50 am

    Dear Debra,
    A while back I added Green Aeonium to my garden and they thrived for quite awhile! I noticed chew marks on the leaves awhile back and attributed this to rodents/squirrels as we have have both in our yard (?). Now the plants are “flopped over” and the stocks are hard and missing the outside green base. The leaves are still very strong but it appears that they just can’t hold themselves up any longer. It almost seems like “something” is laying on the top of the plants while nibbling/eating the stock(?) I originally had 6 plants and 4 out of the 6 have the same issue. I cut back the water thinking it was perhaps over watering however 2 out of the 6 continue to thrive. Have you ever seen or heard of rodent/squirrel damage to this extent?

    • Debra Lee Baldwin on August 16, 2021 at 1:12 pm

      Hi Mitzi — Personally I haven’t seen what you describe, but I think you’re on the right track. Hopefully someone will know what’s going on and suggest a solution. That’s what this forum is for. Btw, it’s good to know your location (city or region). Pests vary from one area to another. Thanks.

  21. Jennifer on October 4, 2021 at 6:35 pm

    Hello Debra – I have very tiny white bug on a few of my pots. Ive looked at the bugs on your page and can’t quite confirm what they are. I’ve used isopropyl alcohol and they have not completely left. I can see them in the mornings and evenings and don’t see many during the warmer part of the days. There are not too many, but just don’t seem to be going away. Any suggestions?

  22. Marianne Hugo on October 13, 2021 at 10:42 am

    Question for you. What can I use to keep spiders off of my succulents? Every morning my succulents are covered with webs and I remove. By the next morning they are back. It’s really hard to remove all of the webs as they get into the nooks and crevices of the succulents.

    • Debra Lee Baldwin on October 13, 2021 at 1:52 pm

      Hi Marianne — You don’t mention your region, so I’m assuming you have the same spiders I have here in the foothills NE of San Diego. There are only two types of spider that get into my succulents: trap-door spiders (which have funnel-like webs) and delicate ones with long legs (you can tell how much of an expert I am—I have no idea what they’re called). The latter leave long threads that are annoying when they appear in photos of plants, because they show up as white lines. I neither like or dislike “my” spiders, but if they get too busy, I remove them with a paintbrush or a blast from the hose. But basically, I see them as beneficial. They control mealy bugs and other succulent pests.

  23. Ritwika Chaudhuri on October 20, 2021 at 4:24 am

    Hi Debra – I live in India and have recently started keeping succulents in my indoor garden. I bought a healthy (seemingly) silver echeveria a few days back. But since yesterday the leaves are blackening. But it is not similar to the overwatering issue. Part of the leaf seem to be eaten or torn and the portion next to it is darkening (almost like dried). This is mostly happening in the upper part of the plant where tips of the new baby leaves seem to be broken. Is this due to transit shock? Will it recover?

    • Debra Lee Baldwin on October 20, 2021 at 12:53 pm

      Hi Ritwika — It’s hard to say, but if the plant is otherwise healthy, it will likely outgrow it. If you’d like to send me a photo, do so in a reply to any of my newsletters.

  24. Frances on January 3, 2022 at 5:10 pm

    Hi Debra,
    I planted two Echeveria Black Prince in a raised planter/pot in September. They were doing really well and put up the most impressive 2.5 foot tall flower stalks for 6 inch diameter rosette. A few weeks ago (soon after a rain) I noticed the leaves had yellow spots like polka dots all over them (appeared to be under the surface of the skin like a color change with no texture variation from rest of leaf) but they seemed fine otherwise. This week after another rain and a few cold nights (+/- 35 degrees) The leaves are blackening and getting mushy from the outer leaf tips then spreading inwards and falling off. Brown callous-like crackling is appearing on the remaining non-rotting leaves. One of them is doing better then the other but they both appear to be suffering from the same thing. I have two other echeveria next to them that are suddenly suffering from some brown patchy marks on leaves that look totally different and the string of pearls next to them that were super happy up until last week suddenly had aphids (which I treated) and then they started getting mushy and bursting. A picture would probably better illustrate this. I had been worried about the long rainy week and cold nights but I am at a loss because I have hundreds of other similar succulents in planters right next to this one and only the plants in this planter seem to be suffering. Its particularly annoying because this planter was the happiest up until a few weeks ago. Thank You for your advice and very helpful resources which I reference often!

    • Debra Lee Baldwin on January 3, 2022 at 5:51 pm

      Echeveria ‘Black Prince’ is notoriously hard to keep going, due to rot. I’d say you did great just getting it to bloom. This is not a succulent that normally survives more than a year or two—which often is the case with highly desirable cultivars that are rushed to market due to their sales potential, without being fully ready (i.e. having such weaknesses bred out of them). Generally when more than one plant in a potted grouping fails, it’s because of soil pathogens, like rot-causing fungus. I recommend you discard plants and soil, clean the pot, and congratulate yourself for doing remarkably well otherwise.

      • Frances on January 4, 2022 at 2:56 pm

        Thank You I will try that! Do you have any tips for Portulaca Molokiniensis ‘Ihi’? I have many different succulents and so far have had the most trouble with the Portulaca. I have planted four so far (from different nurseries and in different types of pots/planters) and all of them have died. Of the first pair I planted (6″ nursery pot size plants), one died almost immediately from what appeared to be root rot spreading into the stem-the stem got black and mushy and tipped over and all the green leaves fell off. The second one of that pair did well for the first three months but this week all the leaves turned black and fell off, the stem seems fine though. Planted two other smaller ones from 2″ succulent containers as experiments in other pots and garden locations and both died pretty quickly after planting. Everything else in the pots/planters where the portulaca’s were planted are healthy and happy.

        • Debra Lee Baldwin on January 4, 2022 at 3:15 pm

          Hi Frances — Obviously black = rot. I’ve grown Portulaca molokiniensis but wasn’t able to keep it going. Tropical succulents are challenging in my dry, inland Southern CA garden. It’s native to the Hawaiian Islands and it’s probably an annual, like others in the genus. Very few succulents are annuals–that could explain why yours keeps dying. This is the first I’ve heard of the cultivar ‘Ihi’. And that’s the sum total of knowledge!

          • Frances on January 4, 2022 at 4:55 pm

            Thank You I had no idea it was tropical or potentially an annual! I am in Northern California zone 9b and we have had a rainy month. I assumed the portulaca was particularly sensitive about too much water since its been raining but I wouldn’t have expected that of a “tropical succulent” but don’t have any knowledge about them. The annual part is interesting I didn’t know there were any annual succulents so you have peaked my curiosity and I will definitely be doing more research on them! I keep seeing pictures online of peoples happily spreading portulaca’s and wondering what I was doing wrong 🙂 . Per your advice I took out the plants that were suffering in the black prince planter (which was painful since it was looking so nice a few weeks ago) I will be replacing soil and cleaning pot and have temporarily moved the plants to the “succulent infirmary area” to see if they perk up before tossing them 🙂 Your books arrived today I am excited to sit down and read them. Thank you again for all of your work and the resources you provide for novice succulent enthusiasts like myself!



          • Debra Lee Baldwin on January 4, 2022 at 5:47 pm

            You’re welcome! I’m glad I could help.



  25. Nancy Proud on January 17, 2022 at 10:58 am

    I caved and finally bought a sea dragon. Then, winter happened and nights dipped into 30s and we had some downpour of rains for days in a row. I studied the sun and moved it to where it can get the most sun exposure. However, it doesn’t seem to be happy and it keeps losing its leaves… Is it diseased? I’d like to upload the photo but there’s no place. Basically, the leaves are turning brown and dying quicker than it can regenerate so once 25″ round now is down to 10″ round.. Help!

    • Debra Lee Baldwin on January 18, 2022 at 12:19 pm

      Hi Nancy — The same thing happened to mine (actually a different Echeveria cultivar but very similar) a month or so ago. Seemingly healthy leaves came loose and fell off. Very disheartening. I’ll do my best to research this. In the meantime, thanks for letting me/us know.

  26. Jess on March 3, 2022 at 5:46 pm

    I read through the disease article and searched google endlessly but I cant seem to find issues that look like mine? I repotted smaller succulents into a long tray and forgot about them. A week later I was floored to see them and guilty for leaving them alone. The pot is hens and chicks and the more centered leaves are growing off white pimples that, if squished, release orange dust. It literally comes out like a zit.. I took a leaf for disection and the pimples have hard centers? Happy to share pictures and hopeful for help.

  27. Jayme S on March 18, 2022 at 10:28 am

    Hi Debra! First, I LOVE your book, and I’ve learned so much about succulents from it! I am starting a brand new succulent garden in our front bed. Should I cover all the soil in weed mat and cut holes for my plantings? If yes, do you have a recommendation for the type? Our contractor uses this very thick weed mat. Thank you so much!

    • Debra Lee Baldwin on March 18, 2022 at 11:24 am

      Hi Jayme —

      Using weed cloth to keep weeds from growing around plants is controversial. Some landscape designers use it routinely, others feel strongly that it does more harm than good. The concern is it compacts and smothers the soil, and roots and beneficial micro-organisms can’t get the aeration they need to thrive.

      A lot depends on the soil type, drainage, slope, type of weeds and type of plants. Maybe weed cloth is necessary in your region—I can’t speak to that—but I do know that personally I dislike it because it tends to become exposed over time. Exposed seams and sections are hard to cut, remove or disguise.

      Btw, my preference for weed control is pre-emergent herbicide (like Preen Weed Preventer). When applied properly (before rains), there’s no need for labor-intensive weed removal or Round-Up.

      I probably should research weed cloth further, but in the meantime, I hope those who read this thread will share their own experiences and suggestions.

      • Timothy Wheeler on May 26, 2022 at 12:08 am

        I am a huge fan of landscaping fabric for weed control. I have never noticed any adverse effect on the health of my succulents. In fact, the succulents in the area I covered with landscaping fabric (and rock cover) look better than those planted in soil with only rock cover. I suspect this is due to better water retention in the fabric-covered soil. And saving irrigation water is crucial in California these days, as always.

        • Debra Lee Baldwin on May 26, 2022 at 9:59 am

          Hi Timothy — And this is why it’s controversial. Some professional landscape designers use weed control fabric routinely, others don’t like it, and others use it in certain circumstances. For what it’s worth, here’s my take on it.

  28. Timothy Wheeler on May 26, 2022 at 12:04 am

    This great web page has been very helpful to me in learning how to prevent snout weevil infestation of my agaves and other susceptible plants. I currently have a Beaucarnia recurvata (ponytail palm) getting ready to bloom. I treated it with systemic imidicloprid about 8 weeks ago. Should I cut off the emerging flower stalks now to prevent exposing pollinators to residual imidacloprid in the plant’s vascular system? Or is it safe to let flower?

    • Debra Lee Baldwin on May 26, 2022 at 9:30 am

      Yes. That’s what experts at the San Diego Botanic Garden recommend. Thanks for the reminder!

  29. Salome on June 21, 2022 at 12:07 pm

    Hi Debra Lee

    I would like to know when is it the best time to treat my succulents with a fungicide and pesticide spray as a cautionary or preventative measure?
    I do know that once a plant is infected it should be treated immediately , but is there a specific time to to spray all succies, maybe before growing season or winter?

    Thank you and Regards
    Salome

    • Debra Lee Baldwin on June 21, 2022 at 12:13 pm

      Hi Salome — As you know, the first sign of infestation is the best time to apply pesticides or fungicides, because bugs and spores spread rapidly.

      I don’t recommend treating plants preventatively. Pests and fungus are by no means inevitable, and it stresses the plant whenever it’s sprayed it with anything but water. Not to mention paying for unnecessary chemicals and adding them to the environment.

      Speaking of water, a good blast from a hose to clean leaves and crevices is a good idea, every so often, when the plants need a good soaking. (But not if they’re prone to mildew, in that case you want to keep the leaves dry; and not if there are spores, eggs or bugs that might use the stream of water to land on other plants.)

      You can see there are a lot of variables. Regardless, dryness and good air circulation are essential—which makes sense because those conditions replicate the plants’ native habitats.

  30. Ingrid Baas on August 10, 2022 at 4:03 am

    Hi Debra, thank you for your extensive pests and diseases list, however. I have an issue I couldn’t find in there. I have an issue with some of my frilly, but also on some other soft leave echeveria. I live in New Zealand and we have quite a few beautiful Dick Wright hybrids here, which I love to grow andI headchop them to grow pups. Some of the young pups I have grown all of a sudden seem to develop a patch where all the “life” in a plant leaf disappears and that part (often the centre area) of the leaf dies off and leaves a thin brown patch. I don’t think it’s related to any disease like mildew, it doesn’t look like typical sunburn, though I suspect it is a type of sunburn/or heat stress. It seems to happen only to young plants/ newly established pups, not so much older plants. It has happened both inside under a grow light, but also outside in natural light. It appears to be quite random, and not all are affected. It can happen to a plant that was quite happy in the same spot under the light and then all of a sudden it gets several blotchy like areas on numerous leaves. I don’t know why? Do you have any experience with this?

    • Debra Lee Baldwin on August 10, 2022 at 11:16 am

      Hi Ingrid — It sure sounds like a classic case of sunburn. I’ll send you an email address to which you can send photos. Hopefully I can help, but it may be beyond me.

  31. Jane on August 10, 2022 at 6:37 pm

    Hi Debra,

    Thank you for all your thorough resources! I read through your Pests, Diseases, and Problems page and couldn’t find an explanation to what I’m experiencing. It might be multi-faceted, so I thought I’d write a comment.

    I recently received some aeoniums that were planted outdoors, so there’s likely some kind of bug on it. The leaves and some stems have a chalky residue, almost like white paint splatter. Since bringing them in, I’ve seen similar residue on my hardwood floors under the plants. They’re not smears from contact; they are fresh ‘droplets’ albeit dry. I have also observed ‘wet spots’ that I suspect are causing it.

    I have found a few flies (?) that are narrow and long – the biggest are about half an inch long, with red bodies/butts. I suspect they are the cause of these ‘wet spots’ as I’ve only seen fresh wet spots directly below or next to one of these bugs. I’ve been killing them when I find them, but they are very narrow and good at hiding on the underside of the aeoniums, which are quite dense and seem healthy otherwise. Some leaves have black streaks on the underside. These bugs and residue do not appear to be mealyworms.

    I treated the aeoniums with a baking soda-soap-water spray over the weekend, in case it was powdery mildew. However, the person who gave me the plants says it could have been cactus sap from another cactus (which I accidentally verified when I tried propping another plant she gave me). However, I’d like to know if I might be dealing with an infestation on my hands, and if so, what might I be working against?

    Much appreciated with any insight you can give!

    • Debra Lee Baldwin on August 11, 2022 at 4:47 pm

      Hi Jane — Based on the photo you sent, the problem is some sort of liquid that dried on the leaves and caked. The bug is merely a harmless sowbug. Take the plants outside and blast them with a hose.

  32. Margaret Yova on September 23, 2022 at 11:10 am

    Debra,

    Thanks so much for your wonderful site – it’s been a fantastic resource for me as I’ve been creating a succulent garden the past several years.

    Some type of grub has made its way into the soil of my succulent garden. I’ve only ever seen it underground, as when I’m digging something up. I’ll try to email a picture since I can’t attach one here. I’ve looked through your site but don’t see anything about grubs.

    Do you have any ideas for the best way to get rid of it? I’m pretty sure it’s the reason I’ve lost several succulents recently – they had almost no roots when I dug them up after their appearance deteriorated greatly.

    Thanks in advance for any help you can offer!

    Margaret Y.

    Chula Vista, CA

    • Debra Lee Baldwin on October 2, 2022 at 2:34 pm

      Hi Margaret — I’m glad to hear that you found my site helpful! You can send photos in response to my newsletter (subscribe on the Home page). As for your grub problem, are the succulents you refer to agaves? That would explain it…and indicate the presence of agave snout weevil. Learn more about this pest on my snout weevil page: https://debraleebaldwin.com/caring-for-succulents/agave-snout-weevil-prevention-treatment/. If that’s not it, I’m at a loss. In my half-acre garden, grubs show up only in my compost pile. They’re about as big as shrimp and seem harmless.

Leave a Comment





This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.