If your spider plant leaves are sticky, it’s usually the work of insects.
Specifically, their honeydew secretions that they deposit during their infestation.
Since spider plants are so easily accessible for crawling insects, it’s no surprise that it’s prone to some common insects.
Sticky spider plant leaves are a telltale sign of scale.
These insects will infest the foliage and then deposit a white, sticky substance all over it. Scales are invisible to the naked eye because of their tiny size.
Insects that make spider plants sticky
The following bugs are known culprits of leaving sticky honeydew behind. See if you can ID the insect before taking action to stop them.
There are many different types of scale. But the signature sign of an infestation is the brown patches that are on the leaves of spider plants.
When they form their colonies, there’s a white cotton that’ll forms as well. These are extremely sticky to the touch.
You’ll often find other secondary bugs on there as well that are drawn to the sugary honeydew deposits left by the primary insects. Gross.
Cottony white is usually due to mealybugs. Cottony brown is scale. Note the difference.
But it’s not just this that causes the sticky leaves on spider plants. It’s actually due to a substance called honeydew.
This is what the bugs leave behind and it turns dark over time. It’s a tarry substance that’s sweet, so it sticks to dirt and brings in ants or spider mites.
When you see a combo of insects on the leaves of your plant, it’s pretty disturbing.
So basically, the mealybugs or scale deposit the honeydew, which then brings in other secondary insects.
Other insects include whiteflies, fungus gnats, aphids, and borers. The following techniques will help you get rid of them.
Note that the sticky leaves on your spider plant usually stem from scale or mealy bugs. Sap sucking insects generally don’t care about serious harm, but the ones that deposit sticky residue do.
It can stifle photosynthesis because it blocks your plant from getting sunlight through the foliage. That’s why you need to focus on them first.
They can also bore holes or chew leaves, resulting in jagged or yellowing leaves from the damage.
A lot of insects are attracted to the warm soil and humid conditions of spider plants.
Get rid of sticky leaves on spider plant
To get rid of the sticky leaves on your spider plant, you’ll need to focus on the insects.
Once the bugs are gone, the stickiness will be gone. Start with the following:
Get a cotton swab and soak it in some rubbing alcohol. Then slowly swab the leaves with it. This will kill the insect nests without harming your spider plant.
This will slowly get rid of the insects that cause sticky leaves. You may want to use a scraper tool to fully scrape off the remaining stickiness.
Do it gently and stop if you notice that your plant leaves are changing colors. Colonies will often be gone quickly if you stick to a schedule.
When it’s time to get to work, put on some gloves because we’re going old school. Get a small bowl of soapy water. Then place it near the plant.
Gently comb through your plant. Remove any sticky leaves you can find by pruning them off and then dropping them into the solution.
If you see any cottony substances, prune the entire leaf off. Bugs should be picked off and dunked.
This is a lot of work and very time-consuming, but if you do it daily, you’ll greatly diminish their population. Be careful when digging through the leaves. You may encounter other pests that can bite.
You can place some sticky tape around the stem of the plant to prevent bugs from crawling up to the leaves. This obviously only works for crawling insects. But it’s easy to do.
Sprinkle some food-grade DE on the soil and the rim of the planter. Bugs with hard shells will be forced to walk over it, which will pierce their shell.
They’ll get dry over time from the micro incisions into their exoskeleton from the DE crystals. You only need a little bit in the soil and on the perimeter of the spider plant.
Don’t overdo it because it can harm your soil quality. DE is available as a food supplement. This is the one you want. Don’t get the pool grade one.
Neem oil is an essential oil concentrate that you can use to spray on your spider plant leaves.
Cover the entire plant, but wash off any excess oil that’s remaining on it. Apply in the early evening- never during peak hours. It’ll burn your plant because it builds a thin coat over the leaves.
It can lead to overheating. Use it once a week as directed. It’ll kill the insects and has a residual effect so it keeps them off. Be sure you get the bottom of the leaves too because this is where ladybugs nest.
Mix equal parts water and vinegar for a powerful, natural insecticide.
Spray it directly onto the sticky leaves to kill the eggs and bugs. Do it daily until the bugs are gone.
Stop if your plant reacts to it or dilute the mixture. This will kill bugs upon contact with pests.
Sometimes the insects will deposit eggs in the soil column. This makes it extremely difficult to get rid of them because they’re hiding under the substrate.
In this case, you need to repot the soil with fresh potting mix. Sterilize or switch the old planter.
Eggs can stick to the container sides as well. You can dip your spider plant roots to kill the bugs or eggs hiding in the roots before you replant with fresh soil.
Be careful you don’t cross-contaminate the old infested soil with the new soil because that’s going to ruin the entire point of it. If the eggs or larvae get into the fresh soil, then they’ll infest it too. So be as careful as possible.
When it’s time to bring out the insecticides, be careful. Make sure that the soap is made for the insect on your spider plant.
This is exactly why you need to properly identify what’s eating your spider plant before you trigger happy spraying poison all over it.
Find an insecticide that’s organic or natural if possible. Use as directed. Only do this if everything else has failed you.
No more sticky leaves
Spider plants are pretty hardy to insects in general, but they may need your help once in a while. When you notice the fuzz on the leaves or the sticky honeydew, take action.
Use the methods outlined above to eliminate the insects so your spider plant can thrive. No more sticky leaves!
Spider plants will tolerate them for quite some time, but it’s waiting on you to babysit them for a bit until the infestation is gone.
I’ve always been interested in gardening, but I never took it seriously until I was forcefully gifted an orchid. This was what got me into the hobby and I’ve never looked back. I enjoy writing about it, but not nearly as much as getting into the dirt and sculpting the perfect decorative ornamental to enjoy for the times.