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Why Do Basil Leaves Go Sticky? (Explained)

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Last updated on September 23rd, 2022 at 12:44 pm

Food and vegetables are generally tagged unsafe when it starts feeling sticky.

In gardening, when plants begin to feel sticky, some people think it’s dying off, while others believe it’s only a temporary infection. Who is right, though?

Why Do Basil Leaves Go sticky?

The principal cause of damp leaves on a Basil Plant is an infestation of scale insects on the plant. These scale insects that camp on the Basil plants release sticky residue called honeydew or sticky honeydew on the leaves, thus giving them a sticky feel when touched.

Why Does My Basil Feel Sticky?

As mentioned above, Basil may feel sticky because of quite a several reasons.

Some of these reasons point out that the Basil plant has been affected by some conditions that would hinder the plant’s healthy growth and general well-being if not controlled in time.

Others explain that the plant may try to carry out some aim that requires it to get sticky.

Here are some of the situations which would make a Basil plant feel sticky:

1. The presence of pest excrement is called sticky honeydew on the surface of the plants. If this honeydew is present on the basil leaf plant, it would feel sticky when touched.

2. The accumulation of plant secretions on the surface of the plants.

These plant secretions may pile up little by little, being unnoticeable at first but would give a sticky feel when these secretions accumulate.

What Causes Sticky Residue on Plants?

The formation of sticky residue on plants is a gradual process that may be unnoticed initially, but as the residue accumulates, the effects become more pronounced.

At the beginning of this process, it is by far easier to prevent the spread of this condition to all plants in the garden.

Sticky residue begins to form on plants for many reasons:

1. An infestation of scales would make a once-healthy plant feel very much sticky to the touch.

This condition occurs when some insects attach themselves to the plant, sucking out its moisture and excreting the sticky substance, identified as honeydew.

This phenomenon is most likely to affect plants that are grown indoors.

At first, these scales do not alter the overall well-being of the plant, but as the infestation grows worse, they could affect the plant in numerous adverse ways, causing these effects to become pronounced.

This scale infestation would make a Basil plant feel sticky and should be treated before it gets out of control.

2. Also, plants may secrete some sticky substances from their parts to discourage pests from perching on them;

this could be the case in situations where the planting area is saturated with pests that destroy these plants.

The whole aim of the plant when it secretes minute quantities of this material would be to arm itself with a pretty unattractive and threatening look to protect itself from the invasion of pests.

Thus, plants’ protective activity would make them have a sticky surface.

3. Plants may also secret some sticky materials, such as nectar, to attract some harmless nectar-sucking insects to aid pollination.

Because several plants require pollination to reproduce, they need some agents to assist in this pollination process by dispersing the pollen grains.

So, these plants produce a sweet substance, nectar, to attract these insects.

Nectar is a sticky substance, and its presence may appear as a residue on the parts of plants.

How to Fix Sticky Basil Leaves?

Basil leaves that have become sticky are never bound to remain so. You can remove this unwanted characteristic, and the state of the plant reversed back to normal.

Therefore, there are pretty several possible ways by which infested sticky Basil leaves can be fixed and renormalized:

1. First, spray the infested Basil plant with plenty of water to wash away the sticky material. Sometimes, some levels of infestation do not necessarily require the use of harsh insecticides.

Therefore, when such minor amounts of sticky material are noticed on the plant, you should use a sharp water spray to wash away the honeydew before it worsens efficiently.

Also, this sign may signify just the beginning of the plague. In this case, pesticides that adversely affect other organisms will not pump the environment.

Pruning Shear

2. Cut out any badly affected leaves with shear to prevent the infestation from transmitting and affecting the entire garden.

If this is done, the causative agents most likely to be concentrated on those seriously affected parts will be removed from the population of Basil plants and disposed of.

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3. It would be best if you cleaned the Basil bed regularly before planting is done.

The bugs that generally create the sticky material on the plant leaf surface thrive better in weedy areas filled with decomposed plant matter.

Therefore, allowing these weeds and decomposed matter to accumulate near your Basil garden would promote the growth of these bugs and, as a result, hasten the formation of sticky residue on the basil leaves.

4. If the sticky residue on the Basil leaf surface is noticed on time, there are far better chances of dealing with the issue, preventing more damage.

So, the basil leaves should be examined daily for any slight indication of honeydew formation to treat the problem at its inception.

5. If the problem persists, minute amounts of pesticide should be applied to the Basil plant but washed off the next day.

If the above measures do not seem to curb the infestation of plants with bugs that deposit a sticky residue on the plant surface, the final thing to do is to destroy these insects using pesticides.

The pesticides should be washed off a little while after application to minimize the adverse effects these pesticides have on the plant and the environment.


Basil leaves becoming sticky signifies that they need more attention and that their growing conditions are not ideal.

In a wrap, you should understand that the overall productivity of the Basil plant is only limited to the environmental conditions where the plant is produced.

Not to forget that the sticky material may emanate from natural activities carried out by the plant.

Therefore, you should make correct observations to determine the exact problem the plant may be enduring.

So, if you notice some stickiness on your Basil plants, they most probably require some more tending.

This infestation is often not detected early because it primarily affects the side of the leaf facing the soil.


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