What is Sticky Substance On Our Orchids?

by Alan

Our orchids (various types) have a sticky clear residue on them. Can you say what this is and how we get rid of it? Plants still produces new stems and flowers.

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Apr 08, 2012
Sticky substance on leaves
by: Alan

Many thanks for your prompt reply, much appreciated

Feb 18, 2012
Sticky Substance On Your Orchids Is Probably Normal
by: Melissa

Hi Alan,

Thanks for your questions "What is Sticky Substance On Our Orchids?"

You mentioned that your orchids have a sticky clear residue on them. And you wanted to know what it was and how to get rid of it. You mentioned that the plant is growing well and produces flowers.

Great questions.

Given your description of the plant, I suspect it is normal.

Some orchids seem to produce a clear sticky exudate particularly on the flower stems and often at the juncture of where a blossom stem meets the main stem. It is a sugary substance and it is normal. As long as I know the sticky stuff is is not associated with an insect situation and that it just a normal part of the orchid life cycle, I don't worry about it.

Just a word of warning however, as there are some situations where the appearance of a sticky substance or honeydew are the secretions of an insect. So seeing that can indicate an insect problem.

Aphids, scale and mealy bug are capable of doing this and all of them can be insect problems for orchids. Ants can be present as well as they "farm" these insects for the honeydew. So if you see ants definitely look for insects.

What I do when I see a sticky substance on my orchids is I start taking a good, long look at the orchids to see if I can see insects of any sort.

Scale are my most common culprits if it is insects and I see clear sticky substances. All of these insects are sucking insects. But to some extent it depends on where you live and your orchid growing situation.

What to do? If it is not insects then you can either leave it or try misting the clear liquid with warm water and wiping it off with a cotton swab. For me, I just leave it.

Right now I have a Brassavola nodosa (Lady of the Night) that has a lot of this clear sticky liquid at every flower juncture. It does not have any insects. So I just let it be.

If it is insects you will probably have to treat it with something to decrease the populations. It depends on which insect and how bad the infestation is as to how I would recommend how to handle it. I start out using pretty "green" and organic pest control and get increasingly more aggressive with pesticides if the infestation is really bad or I do not think I can get rid of them with less toxic means.

If you find that it is insects, write me back and we can go from there.


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