Introduction: Oh No My Houseplant Is Sticky!

About: I'm a physics and chemistry teacher at a public school in Maryland and active in my local science teacher's association. I love building things and am teaching myself how to use arduino in electronics projects…

I was checking each of my houseplants while I watered them one week when I noticed... Oh no my Aloe plant is sticky!

What does this mean? Is my plant sick? Can it be saved?

No need to panic, it can be fixed with some dish soap and some rubbing alcohol.

Step 1: Diagnosis of the Problem

First, I took a more careful look at the plant. In addition to be very sticky, there were also some small brown bugs, and some places that looked like they were bruised.

The stickiness is a sign that the plant has aphids, which are tiny little bugs. If the weather is warm enough when you discover this problem, your local bird population are experts at finding and eating aphids. I discovered this problem when it was still too cold so I'll explain how to give the plant a good shower.

The small brown bugs on the leaves are called scale, these can also be eaten by bugs if you are able to put the plant outside for some fresh air. But I will show you how to clean them inside.

Step 2: Cleaning With Dish Soap and Cool Water.

To remove the sticky residue from the aphids, and to remove any aphids from the plant and its soil, use dish soap.

First put the plant into a large sink. Put some soap on your fingers and massage the soap into the leaves and spritz the leaves with water from a spray if have one, or use your fingers to make the faucet output into a spray. Make sure you work through the entire plant and let the soapy water flow over the soil to rinse that as well. Take your time and make sure you have done a thorough cleaning or the aphids will bounce right back as soon as the plant dries.

Step 3: Cleaning With Alcohol

Scale is a small bug that will not be removed by your soapy water bath, to remove these you have to use a combination of wiping each of the leaves with rubbing alcohol, and scraping the bugs off with your fingernail. This also has be done very thoroughly to make certain that you caught all of the bugs.

Step 4: Checking Regularly for Recurrence

Once your plant is clean, make sure you have thoroughly cleaned any decorative items that may have been ornamenting your plant or they will just hide the bugs until you turn your back.

I put my plant outside for an hour after cleaning to air dry in the sunlight. Make sure you keep a close eye on the plant after cleaning to see if any aphids or scale escaped your cleaning. You can always repeat the treatment.

Good luck with your plants!

Indoor Plants Challenge

Participated in the
Indoor Plants Challenge