Treating Cactus and Succulent Insects and Diseases


The insect pests you’ll most likely see on your cactus and succulents are red spiders, thrips, scales, and mealy bugs. The latter two are easily brushed off with a small brush, but if the stems are frequently treated with clear water, soap suds, or a solution of fir tree oil, these pests will not cause serious trouble.

The red spider will never appear if watering is frequent. Fir tree oil helps to prevents thrips. Try other natural pesticides for your succulents and cactus. Read this guide to organic pesticides for more information.

Be aware that insecticidal soaps will damage some species of cactus and succulents permanently. Insecticides designed for roses often work well for cactuses as well.

Pests can open the way up for fungal diseases so it’s best to treat them as soon as possible. Many pests will die off if you treat the plant with rubbing alcohol as well.

Ron Smith, a Horticulturist with the NDSU Extension Service has an excellent troubleshooting guide to cactus on his website.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

jody-ann christie-smith June 28, 2011 at 6:41 pm

The information on this website was very helpful. I am in the process of doing my first cactus garden – it is for a commercial organization. Are there any guildelines, websites and / or books that you highly recommend?

Kind Regards,
Jody-Ann

Linda Tatum May 28, 2013 at 9:35 pm

I overwatered my succulent and there is a hole in the stalk. What do I do to save plant???

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