The Fungal Attack on Succulents

Origin climate of succulents makes them a sturdy species that can go through adverse conditions much more comfortably than other houseplants. They can bear the temperature drops significantly and are more resilient to harsh sunny conditions. They are pretty famous for surviving drought conditions because they store water in their leaves or stems for future usage. A waxy layer protects water stored in the leaves, which resists its evaporation to the atmosphere, and helps them retain it for a long time.

Succulents brighten up the aura of a garden to another level, but that requires them to be healthy and fit. Yeah, you read it right; they also can get diseased and infected. Despite the common notion that they are hardy and can endure harsh conditions, there are some circumstances where they can fall prey to some ailments. Being a low-maintenance species, only too much carelessness and callous conditions can hamper their growth. Some common pest infestations, cold and humid climate, and sometimes warm climate is also the reason behind some crucial problems like fungus infection.

What is a Fungal attack on succulents?

Succulents are mostly habitual to drier climates, and when they are taken out of their natural habitat and are grown in home and office gardens. They come up with a tendency to get infected with fungus from time to time. And the most prominent reason behind it is the necessary climate conditions of our residential zones, which are more on the sticky side or comprise multiple kinds of weather, some of which are unsuitable for succulents.  

With calm, over humid and over-watered conditions, succulents start to show up spots or webbing on their leaves or top of the soil around the plant. They may be the symptoms that there is a fungal attack on succulents. It does not directly attack them like pests but creates an atmosphere that hampers their growth significantly. But, some fungal infections which rot the plant are lethal for their existence. If its spread is uncontrolled, it may lead to the untimely death of the succulent.

Before we learn, How to get rid of fungus on succulents? It is better to have know-how about types of Fungal attack on succulents.  

  • Sooty Mold: Also known as black mold, this infection is an indication that your succulents are infested by pests, as sap-sucking pests and insects like mealybugs, mites, aphids, and scale excrete a trail of a sweet and sticky substance known as honeydew. This honeydew extract is the main reason behind black mold infection, which can spread to the whole succulent and slowly cover the other parts of the plant, starting from some black spots on the leaves.

Although it does not directly harm the succulents, large colonies, and the spread of this infection can interfere with the photosynthesis process. It forms a sooty layer on the leaves, restricting the sunlight from reaching them, lowering nutrient production. It may degrade the health and growth of the succulent and also result in the yellowing of leaves.   For controlling black mold, one needs to eliminate the infestation of pests and insects first. One can wipe off black mold from the leaves with a wet cloth or rubbing alcohol and use insecticidal soap or horticultural oil to get rid of insects. One can also use a hose to wash off fungi from the leaves. This fungus infection should be removed as soon as possible, as with weakened succulent, chances of multiple pest attacks increases. The best practice is to take proper care of your plant to avoid the happening of this scare.

  • Anthracnose: A fungi from the genus Colletotrichum, anthracnose can be identified as brown lesions on the leaves or crown. They frequently occur in the succulents grown in insufficient light, over-watered, or watered using the overhead irrigation method. Overhead watering is the method by which the plants get water with the help of sprinklers. However, it disperses the water uniformly but, it falls on the leaves first in this method. Lesions in the succulents can have active spore pads of pink, red, or orange, which may get further dispersed by winds or splashing water. 

Once a succulent gets infected with it, the only way to treat the problem is to remove and destroy the infected area and stop overhead watering. This infection is very contagious and spreads through pots and soil; therefore, clean tools after using, and if a succulent get infected with it, avoid reusing the soil. To control the spread and remove fungal bodies, use Bordeaux mix, a mixture of hydrated lime, sulfur, and copper. 

  • Stem Rot: Cool weather with over-watering is the best recipe for stem rot causing fungi, as it prepares the right conditions for them to develop and spread. When a succulent is planted too deeply into the soil, its upper part comes in the ground’s touch and catches moisture leading to rot.

Dark lesions appear at the stem, which enlarges in size as the infection spreads and also go more in-depth in color. Succulent leaves start to wither as if the growing capability in them has gone weakened. And if the spread is uncontrolled, the result may be a dead succulent in your garden, as curing this infection is quite tricky.  To get rid of this infection from one should follow the eradication procedure carefully. First of all, remove all the infected areas and arrange to improve the soil drainage so as they do not sit in a pool of water. In the growing season, before watering, wait until the soil is dry; excess watering may increase the chances of stem rot infection. 

  • Cotton Root Rot: Areas with hot summers, soil with a pH range of 7.0 to 8.5, and temperatures above 82 degrees Fahrenheit are more susceptible to this fungal infection. Its scare in infected plants increases exponentially in warmer months in comparison to cooler months. This widespread fungal disease attacks many succulent species, and till now, no cure for it is present; this is why succulents infected by it will die ultimately.  

Succulents infected by it start changing their foliage color from green to yellow to brown, and soon this fungus will attack the roots. Generally, it gets identified only when the dead plant is pulled off from the ground, full of brown fungal strands attached to it and decaying to its maximum. These fungal strands can remain in the soil for years, even after the removal of succulent.  It is better to plant resistant succulents to avoid this fungal infection, as after the disease has happened, repotting is the best option in most cases. It happens to be one of the most destructive fungal infections, with no effective cure known yet. 

To get the visual details of the above information, you can find the video below.

It will increase your basic knowledge about primary fungal infections that haunt the existence of succulents. It will introduce you to all ill-effects of the conditions, from small spots on the leaves to deadly rot in the roots. You will also get general information about methods and procedures to follow to prevent and control the spread of theirs. 

How to get rid of fungus on succulents?

This harmful disease is an acute pain for the succulent lovers, and they keep no stone unturned to get rid of it. Now the question is: How to treat Fungus on succulents? Some of the methods that have shown quite effectiveness on it could be summarized as:

  • ยทBranded Succulent fungicideTo stop the spread of fungal infection to other parts of the succulent and nearby ones, use of Succulent fungicide is most advisable. A variety of fungicides are available in the market, based on their composition formula and their effectiveness on a specific fungal infection. 

Out of fungicides available in the market like copper methylthiophanate, benomyl, dicyclidine, etc., copper is recommended. And the reason behind it is its multipurpose application on various fungal infections and plant types. Just mix 0.5 to 2.0 oz of fungicide in a gallon of water, and spray it thoroughly on infected parts. Repeat the procedure one in 7 days for few weeks for complete resolution of the problem.  

  • DIY Succulent fungicide: Some gardeners prefer home-made anti-fungal solutions to Succulent fungicide available in the market. Here we have listed some of the alternatives to branded ones:
    • Baking Soda: It is a very commonly found item in every home kitchen. Mix 4 teaspoons of baking soda with 1 gallon of water and spray on plants for effective cure.
    • Dishwashing Soap: Bleach-less dishwashing soaps are a good home remedy for treating fungal infections.
    • Pyrethrin leaves: Dried flowers of these colorful daisies are used as fungicides. A specially prepared liquid of them with alcohol and water serves the purpose.

Some other items, like Bordeaux mixture, cooking oils are a direct remedy to fungus problems or are compatible with other fungicide solutions. 

Well-prepared with the tools to handle the fungal scare on succulents, you will feel more confident to tackle fungus attacks on succulents. You can go to our other blog, where we have discussed elimination methods in detail. It will make you more self-dependent, worry-free, and a much happy gardener!