Tips for Managing Pests in Xeriscape Plants

pest crawling on the tip of green leaf

Xeriscaping is becoming an increasingly popular choice in Texas landscaping, and for good reason. These drought-resistant designs look great while using less water than traditional landscaping arrangements. Native xeriscape plants tend to be hardier than other varieties, providing easier maintenance overall.

One of our favorite xeriscape plants to install is yucca. There are several varieties of this drought-tolerant plant, all of which do well in the Texas climate. There are, however, a few insects to look out for when using yucca and other native plants in landscaping.



Texas Red Yucca is especially eye-catching with its brightly colored flowers and long bloom. Those beautiful red flowers also happen to be a favorite food of the black aphid. When left unchecked, these predators will destroy the flowers and shorten the life of the plant.


mealybugs 1Mealybugs can be hard to spot because they prefer to live on the underside of leaves. These pests tend to cluster together and can look like a wisp of cotton stuck on a leaf. They love plant sap, and if left unchecked, they will literally suck the life out of a yucca.


mitesThose tiny spots on your plants aren’t’ actually spots! They’re most likely spider mites – tiny arachnids that love to feed on the plant’s sap. When dealing with a severe mite infestation, you may also notice small webbing on and around the plant or gray and tan stripes on the leaves.


weevilsWeevils are one of the most challenging pests to manage because they hide from sight but do the most damage. Leaves with holes are a telltale sign of weevil infestation. These black beetles hide in the crown of a plant and burrow into it, making it especially difficult to get rid of them.

Yucca Bugs

yucca bugsThese little pests love the plant so much they are named after it! Yucca bugs prey on native and nursery-grown yucca plants, which are integral to xeriscape designs. Typical signs of a yucca bug infestation include yellowing leaves, stippling on new growth, and small black spots on leaves.

Yucca bugs are black or navy blue with a reddish-orange body and cause serious damage to a plant at all stages of development. Both adults and nymphs feed on yucca leaves by poking a hole in the plant and sucking out nutrients. This causes mature leaves to turn yellow and brittle. New leaves become more susceptible to yucca bugs because they lack proper nutrition.

Simple Strategies to Manage Pests

Pest management begins long before any insect appears on your plant’s leaves.

Be proactive. If you wait until you see a problem, it may be too late to save a plant. This is why we inspect our customers’ plants regularly; often, we can catch a problem early enough to quickly manage it before it does serious damage to a plant.

Water appropriately. Native, drought-resistant plants are low water – but what exactly does that mean? Understanding how and when to water your xeriscape plants will help to maintain a healthy root system and ward off problematic pests. We also recommend installing drip irrigation, which will save even more on long-term watering costs. Your Earthworks representative can work with you to develop a watering schedule and strategy that will keep plants looking vibrant long-term.

Find the Source of the Problem

Pests on a plant are often a symptom of another issue. For example, when managing mealybugs and aphids, we look for nearby ant colonies. Ants protect these insects, and in exchange, they get to eat honeydew, a sweet substance excreted by aphids and mealybugs. It’s important to clear out both the pest on the plant and the ants to ensure we eradicate the problem.

In the case of persistent pests like Yucca Bugs, the best option is insecticidal soaps or oils, which can be applied to the underside of leaves and plants to remove the bugs.

If you think your native plants have a pest problem, it’s best to call your landscaping professional immediately. The sooner we address the issue, the better chance your plants have of recovering.

Xeriscape plants are among the best choices for properties who want to save on water costs without sacrificing beauty and color. If you’re interested in xeriscaping, call us today to discuss how to transition your property. 




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