The string of dolphins is a succulent plant with plump, soft leaves that are shaped like leaping dolphins. The leaves are green in color and smooth in texture. However, sometimes you may feel the leaves of your favorite succulent turning sticky. While you may be alarmed due to this sudden change, you need to calm down and observe the problem first. It may happen due to two major reasons, and it is generally easy to cope up with.
Natural Adaptive Mechanism
If you see that the leaves have only started to turn sticky and there is no other change in the plant, it might be due to the development of the natural adaptive mechanism of the plant.
The string of dolphins generally grows in rocks and crevices, which means it needs to hold on to those surfaces. The stickiness is essentially a mechanism of the plant to be able to get a good grip on the surface till the roots develop and ensure that the plant sticks to the surface. It also helps the plant to stick to the surface during windy or rainy conditions.
Thus, it is only a natural process of survival of the plant and there is no reason for you to worry.
However, if you see tiny white or yellow patches developing in the plant along with the sticky leaves, it may be due to pest infestation. It is generally caused by mealy bugs.
Mealybugs are essentially tiny worm-like bugs commonly found in houseplants. It sucks on the sap of the plant and causes it to weaken. If left untreated, it may cause severe damage to the plant. Further, it may also spread to the surrounding plants and make the eradication of the pests harder.
Thus, it is very important to take immediate steps to curb the menace of these bugs and reduce the extent of the damage caused.
Always keep a lookout for white patches in your string of dolphins. Prevention is always the best cure so it is best to take measures such as using sterilized soil for potting and ensuring clean growing conditions for the plant. However, if you do spot a mealybug infestation, immediately isolate the plant and move it to a different location. This prevents the spread of the bugs from one plant to the other and helps contain the infestation.
You can use an effective pesticide regularly till the pests have been removed. Another cost-effective alternative is to use a diluted solution of rubbing alcohol and rub it on the affected areas using an earbud. Repot the string of dolphins in fresh, sterile soil and spray deterrents such as Neem oil to help reduce the chances of reinfestation.
Thus, there may be two causes for a sticky string of dolphins. While one may cause harm to your plant, the other is a completely natural process. So, it is best to observe and identify the problem before providing the required care for your string of dolphins.