Peacock plants are beautiful to keep around the house because of their vibrant colors. However, homeowners commonly complain about sticky leaves on the plant. This can cause one to feel disgusted and frustrated, especially if you have been taking care of your plant like it is your baby.
Usually, a pest infestation can cause one’s peacock plant to get sticky. The pests absorb the sap from the plant, leaving behind honeydew, which causes the leaves to get sticky. However, pests are not the only ones to blame for sticky leaves. Your peacock plant could also be secreting sap via guttation, causing it to become sticky.
Why is My Peacock Plant Sticky?
Usually, peacock plants become sticky because pests have attacked them. Usually, spider mites are attracted to these plants and tend to feed on them. When spider mites spend too much time on the leaves, they start creating web-like homes at the edge of the leaves, making the entire plant sticky and disgusting to touch.
Bugs like scales, mealybugs, and aphids can also be a cause of concern as they, like spider mites, release honeydew everywhere on the plant, making it extremely sticky. Think about honeydew like the poop of these bugs and insects. It feels sticky because when these pests suck on a peacock plant, they feed off the sugar in the plant.
If you do not find any bugs on the plant, but the leaves still feel sticky, a pest infestation may not be the cause of blame. Instead, a peacock plant will sometimes release sap, causing its leaves to become sticky. This happens through guttation- when droplets of water are secreted through the pores naturally present in plants. With the water, extra minerals and salt also get released, causing the leaves to feel sticky.
When a peacock plant becomes sticky, different insects, like ants, will find their way to the plant. Hence, you must clean the plant as soon as possible to ensure that it is not infested by bugs and insects.
Causes of Stickiness
1. Secretion of Honeydew
Bugs like scales, mealybugs, and aphids release a sticky substance known as honeydew when they infest a plant. This can cause the plant leaves to become sticky from the surface or underneath. These pests will feed off the juices and sap of the leaves since they are attracted to the sugar that the plant naturally produces.
Once they are fed and satisfied, their digestion process will begin. During this time, the bugs will poop on the plants in the form of honeydew. Honeydew is sticky, which is why it remains on the plants, making them feel sticky.
If the plants are not cleaned in time, the content of honeydew will continue to increase and soon seep down to other parts of the plant, infesting all the leaves. If this happens, ants will start feeding off the honeydew, and if there is a constant supply of this sticky sweetness, the ants will find a permanent home on your plant.
2. Spider Mites
The most common type of pests found on peacock plants is spider mites. Spider mites are sneaky as they conceal themselves under the plant leaves while continuing to feed off them. While living on the peacock plant, they will start making sticky web structures and cages on the edges and tips of the leaves to mark their territory and make the plant inaccessible to other pests.
Another reason spider mites make sticky webs on the leaves is that they need to protect themselves and their eggs from other pests that will hunt them down. Moreover, these webs act as a bridge when the spider mites want to move from one plant to another. They use this tactic to increase their colonies and bring other mites to the plant.
Even if you look at your peacock plant every day, it is highly unlikely that you will see the webs. Eventually, after the mites have been feasting on the leaves of the plant for some time, the lower part of the leaves will start to become sticky. That happens because of the abundance of webs that the mites have made on them.
Once you can view the webs made by the spider mites, keep in mind that these pests have been on your plant for a long time, and the infestation has become severe.
3. Natural Secretion of the Plant
Just because your plant is sticky does not mean that pests have infested it. The peacock plant could be secreting sap via guttation as well. This is a process that happens when you give your plant too much water, and it cannot absorb it. The plant then releases the extra water through guttation either in the early hours of the day or late at night.
When guttation occurs, the leaves of the plant will release sap which will cause the entire plant to feel sticky.
Looking out for sap crystals is one way to distinguish why the peacock plant is sticky. If you find this, use it as a sign that bugs have been feasting on your plant and releasing honeydew. This will only be present on the top or bottom of the leaves. However, if the sap crystal is absent and you cannot find any bugs on the plant, you may safely assume that the peacock plant has been releasing the saps because of being overwatered.
Regardless of why your plant is sticky, keeping it clean will ensure that the leaves do not attract any ants or insects in the future.
How to Get Rid of the Stickiness on a Peacock Plant?
Cleaning the leaves of the plant will ensure that insects and pests are not attracted to it. If a pest infestation occurs, the entire plant will be eaten, making it difficult to save. Here are some things you can do to get rid of the stickiness from your plant:
1. Manually Removing the Insects
Scales are common bugs that are found feasting on peacock plants. Unfortunately, they are immune to most sprays and cannot be removed. This is primarily because they have a hard shell that keeps them safe from any store-bought or homemade pesticide.
However, you can manually get rid of these bugs by cleaning the leaves with a cloth. All you have to do is wet the cloth with warm water and wipe it down the plant. You can also use a cotton ball soaked with rubbing alcohol to wet the leaves and kill the scales feasting on the plant.
If you want to remove the bugs from the plant, you can use mild insecticidal soaps and horticulture oils. These help create protective armors on top of the bugs, cutting off their oxygen supply. Eventually, this will cause the bugs to suffocate and die.
If you want to get rid of the bugs without killing them, you can create a solution to weaken their strong outer shells. All you have to do is take 1 gallon of water and mix in 1 tablespoon of dishwashing soap. Wet a cotton ball with the solution and rub it on the leaves. Let it stay on the leaves for a while before taking a clean cloth to wipe down the plant completely.
If you find that the scales have completely infested the plant, you might have to get rid of your peacock plant completely. This will only happen if you have not been paying your plant any attention and have failed to take control of the infestation.
2. Using a Solution
Spider mites are another type of bug that commonly infest peacock plants. Their webs cause the leaves of the plant to become sticky from everywhere. Usually, the lower side of the plant is stickier because the mites make their home there and ensure that they bring all other parts of the family and house them in that part of the plant.
To get rid of spider mites, you will have to isolate your peacock plant and get rid of the infected leaves. This will ensure that the infestation does not spread.
To remove spider mites from the entire plant, you can make an isopropyl alcohol solution mixed with water. You must use filtered water. Spray this solution on the plant and wait for it to work its magic.
You can also mix a tablespoon of dish soap with 1 liter of warm water. However, the dish soap you use should not contain any chemicals. We recommend a dish soap with peppermint as this will help easily get rid of the pests.
Remember to check your peacock plant regularly. You never know when a pest infestation might take place. In case you do find bugs and pests in your plant, do not panic; use the solutions mentioned above to stop the infestation and save your plant!
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Hi! I’m Sophia, and I love plants – especially an expert in growing house plants. I stay in Chicago, United States of America, and through my blog and social media platforms, provide tips and tricks on how to grow healthy, vibrant plants indoors. Check out more here.