An indication that there's a problem with your beloved houseplant may be when a spider plant is sticky. Normally pest free, your first thought will likely be, “Why is my spider plant sticky?”. Before you start blaming the kids for spilling something, take a look at the underside of the leaves.
Sticky Residue on Spider Plants
Sticky spider plant leaves are a signal that the piercing, sucking insect known as scale has come to live on your spider plant, making it sticky. There are different kinds of scale, and all are invisible to the naked eye until they form colonies of many. When colonies form on spider plant leaves, a sticky residue remains. Colonies will be visible as small brown patches, usually underneath the leaves of the sticky spider plant. Sometimes scale insects appear as a white, cottony blob-- mealybugs. The substance causing sticky leaves on spider plants is called honeydew. Sticky spider plant leaves may also be caused by aphids or spider mites. What you see when you check the underneath of leaves with sticky residue on spider plants may give you an indication of which pest you're dealing with.
Treating Sticky Leaves on Spider Plant
There are various ways to get rid of the scale and other insects that cause sticky leaves on spider plants. Swabbing the leaves with a cotton swab dipped in alcohol is one way to treat them. This is a time-consuming process, but effective when treatments are applied weekly. Drenching applications of insecticidal soap can also control the problem. You can make your own concoction of insecticidal soap to use when controlling pests that cause sticky spider plant leaves. Neem oil is also effective. Cover all parts of the plant, paying special attention to the underside of the leaves and the center of the spider plant. Fresh potting soil can sometimes help ease the pest problem when combined with treatment. Aphids and other pests are often attracted to the succulent new growth that comes from a regular routine of watering and fertilization. Withhold plant food and reduce watering to a minimum until you've cleared up the problem that is causing sticky spider plant leaves. Now that you've learned the answer to, “Why is my spider plant sticky?”, take the necessary steps to control the pests. Spider plants are resilient and will likely recover from this infestation. In the meantime, root the little plantlets that cascade from the container, so you'll always have great spider plants in your home or outdoor basket.
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Becca Badgett was a regular contributor to Gardening Know How for ten years. Co-author of the book How to Grow an EMERGENCY Garden, Becca specializes in succulent and cactus gardening.
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