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.
Yet, this wonderful houseplant isn’t immune to infestations of plant bugs, and one of the most common pests is the cottony white mealybug.
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.
How To Get Rid Of Mealybugs On Jade Plant
There are several non-chemical pesticide methods for getting rid of common mealybug infestations.
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 make sure it isn’t sensitive to these substances.
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.
Dilute concentrated neem oil to avoid chemical burns. Plants are often sensitive to pure neem.
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
For an infestation of mealybugs, the more practical route 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 as the roots ingest the oil and turn it into a systemic insecticide.
Any houseplant pests that pierces the plant, such as mealybugs, or scale insect 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 get access to the mealybugs.
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.
Lacewings, lady beetles, and parasitic wasps are all effective mealy bug killers.
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.
For obvious reasons, this isn’t a good option for indoor plants. It can work wonders on outdoor specimens or if an indoor jade plant can spend some time on the porch.