Sempervivum forum→Hens and chicks

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West Richkand
Jfancher
Jun 8, 2021 3:26 PM CST
I have hens and chicks in a pot that are quite beautiful and have grown large. However every year they seem to have mealy bugs that invade them. How do I get rid of them?

I live in West Richland, Wa.
Name: Rj
Just S of the twin cities of M (Zone 4b)
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crawgarden
Jun 8, 2021 4:32 PM CST
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Calif_Sue
Jun 8, 2021 4:36 PM CST

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RJ, please read the section in pink below this post.
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PaleoTemp
Jun 10, 2021 1:15 AM CST
Can you post some photos with the bugs on the plants?
Name: Suzanne/Sue
Sebastopol, CA (Zone 9a)
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Calif_Sue
Jun 10, 2021 9:49 AM CST

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Also, where are they planted? How much sun do they get? Water?
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Name: Lynn
Oregon City, OR (Zone 8b)
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valleylynn
Jun 10, 2021 1:35 PM CST

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Hi @Jfancher, and a big welcome to the Sempervivum Forum. So glad you found your way.

Photos of your affected plants would be great, it would help us solve your problem.
I know the conditions you are growing in, I used to live in the Yakima Valley. If your plants are having problems with aphids it is more than likely because they are some how stressed. A photo would give us clues.
West Richkand
Jfancher
Jun 10, 2021 1:57 PM CST
Here are 3 pics. The larger ones had a ton of mealy bugs. I spent sometime squishing them. The smaller ones show what the larger plants looked like prior to squishing them.
Thumb of 2021-06-10/Jfancher/f581ed
Thumb of 2021-06-10/Jfancher/a02b6d
Thumb of 2021-06-10/Jfancher/057a48
@jfancher
Name: Lynn
Oregon City, OR (Zone 8b)
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valleylynn
Jun 10, 2021 5:47 PM CST

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Nice photos Jfancer.
I have never had this problem with my semps.
How much sunlight are they getting?
Is the soil kept wet?
What are you using for top dressing?
West Richkand
Jfancher
Jun 10, 2021 10:07 PM CST
Being wet may be the issue. They were getting quite a bit of sun, but with weather getting hot, I pull them into the shade.
Never heard of top dressing. Please explain. I am thinking I should probably repot them and throughly clean out the bugs prior to repotting.
Name: Sol Zimmerdahl
Portland, Oregon (Zone 8b)
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GeologicalForms
Jun 11, 2021 1:39 AM CST
Jfancher,
a few drops of dish soap in water applied with a spray bottle will kill the aphids and most other pests. You may have to apply it a couple times but the residue is enough to stop them from coming back in the short term. You can always use specialized pesticides as well if you'd like, they tend to work better than the home remedies.
Of course Lynn is right though, bugs prefer attacking weak plants, when the surface of the leaves isn't as tough it makes for easy prey. It gets tough in the summer to moderate light exposure when growing plants in shallow pots, they dry out quickly and heat up faster than those planted in the ground. In my opinion, a place with more light than where they are, but not full sun would be a balance that might protect them from both sunburns and the bugs, I'd hit them with the soapy water then find a nice place with filtered light during the hottest parts of the day to move them to.
The "top dressing" Lynn is referring to is the addition of gravel or another fast draining substrate to the surface of the soil, sempervivum don't like the base of their rosettes to stay wet, and gravel mulching can keep that from happening. Hopefully there are also drainage holes in your trough planter to.
Goodluck,
-Sol
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sedumzz
Jun 11, 2021 6:22 AM CST
Neem oil might also work. Make sure you don't use too much, though.
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Name: Suzanne/Sue
Sebastopol, CA (Zone 9a)
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Calif_Sue
Jun 11, 2021 7:35 AM CST

Plants Admin

It's hard to tell but it doesn't look like mealy bugs. It does look like aphids, as you said, you've been squishing them, rather hard to do with mealies plus the gross factor!
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West Richkand
Jfancher
Jun 11, 2021 10:52 AM CST
Yes I tried insecticidal soap solution. Didn't work so I will try Neem oil. Whether these bugs are aphids or mealy bugs, squishing is kind of gross, but it does work to kill the visible pests.

Thanks for all your suggestions 🤗.
Name: Lynn
Oregon City, OR (Zone 8b)
Charter ATP Member Garden Sages I helped plan and beta test the plant database. I helped beta test the Garden Planting Calendar I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Plant Database Moderator
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valleylynn
Jun 11, 2021 11:57 AM CST

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Jfancher, are you using a potting mix? The soil can also be a problem.
I think repotting them is a good idea. Wash all the soil from the roots, and at the same time hose the rosettes to remove the insect. When you repost use a high quality potting mix and add coarse sand and pumice. Top dress with either #2 chicken grit or clean 1/4" minus sharp gravel. Not pea gravel.
I agree with Sol about the lighting, bright but not direct sun. Only water when the soil is dry. Be sure the container is not sitting directly on a surface. Place feet or rocks under the bottom so the container is raised up a bit, this will help with the drainage.

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