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Why Are My Petunias Sticky? (5 Main Reasons & Solutions)

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If you are an avid fan of gardening and have had experience growing different kinds of flowers, you would know how distinct a touch some flowers can have. A few might have a soft and smooth feel, while others could be stiff and rubber-like.

Some flowers have a sticky feel like petunias. If you have them in your lawn or backyard, you must been wondering, “Why are my petunias sticky“?

Don’t fret. It doesn’t always mean the petunias are sick. The stickiness could mean a few different things, too. It could also indicate that you are not taking proper care of your petunias. Knowing the reasons for the stickiness in your flowers will ease the situation, and you can begin to handle it adroitly.

So, if you want to know the answer to “why are my petunias sticky,” keep reading.

Why Are My Petunias Sticky
Realized the amazing benefit of Petunias’ sticky stuff – via Reddit

Why Are My Petunia Sticky?

Petunia plants are easy to grow and rewarding to have. They can be found in a pretty pastel color or darker shades. They may be considered summer annuals, but you can grow petunias all year round.

Petunias are not always sticky, but due to certain stimulants, the gooey substance can spread around and make them feel sticky to the touch. But it is generally nothing to be worried about.

So, let’s get to why you are here. You can stop searching for “why are my petunias sticky,” as we have got you covered with all the potential reasons. Let’s dig in.

Reasons to Why Your Petunias Are Sticky

Gooey Substance from the Protective Sap

The stem tissues in the petunia plant release a gooey substance, and this sticky material spreads to the soft foliage of the petunia. This sticky goo is believed to be a source of protection against harmful insects and pests like aphids and thrips.

The protective sap theory is not confirmed, but petunias are not always sticky. They become that way sometimes, and the exact reason is unclear. The pest theory is the most plausible one.

Aphids and Their Honeydew

Several pests can attack the petunia plant, such as snails, aphids, flea beetles, slugs, etc. Aphid attack is the most common type of pest attack on these plants.

Aphids operate in a sticky manner. They take over the plant, suck out the sap, shoot their saliva into the plant’s tissues, and introduce honeydew, a sticky substance aphids produce. So, the stickiness is partially caused by the aphids themselves, but petunias have their source of a gooey substance as well.

A Trap for the Pests

The stem and thick leaves of the petunia plant have small, glandular hair all over them. When the hair and plant’s goo combine, they form a sticky trap for the pests that come to attack. This presents an uncomfortable situation for the insects, and they can’t often free themselves.

Eventually, the pests and insects die trapped in the goo. The entrapping protects the petunia flowers and plants from being attacked by the tricky little pests.

Is The Aphid Attack Harmful to The Petunia Plant?

The aphid attack does harm the petunia plant in some ways. It does not kill them, but they may become weak. The sap has supporting properties for the plant, and sucking it out takes a bit of strength away from petunias.

The injected saliva may form a medium to spread diseases, and the honeydew often leads to the formation of a sooty mold over the plant, which obstructs the process of photosynthesis.

So, if you suddenly feel that your petunias are sticky, the first thing to check for is an aphid attack. It won’t be easy as these pests are extremely tiny.

Spotting an Aphid Attack

Extra gooey feel can certainly be a sign of pest attack on the petunias, but how do you make sure it is one if aphids are hard to spot with a naked eye?

There are some other ways to tell that the plant is under attack.

Check the leaves to see if they are curled up and yellow, do notice the undersides. They may have started to rusty from the bottom even if the upper surface is fine. You may also see stunted growth over some days or a few weeks.

Pest attack could also mess with the flowers on the petunia plant. So, if you see de-shaped or discolored flowers, they could be an indication of an aphid attack as well. One more sign is the presence of galls or bumps on the surface of the leaves.

What Can You Do About The Sticky Situation?

Remember that the stickiness of the petunia plant is not always an indication of a pest attack. They may be spewing out the gooey material for some other reason. Other causes are not clear yet.

So, what can you do to remedy this, or should you leave them as it is for the situation to vanish on its own?

If the stickiness is not due to natural secretion but by an aphid attack, you must take steps to remedy it. A mild attack can be managed by a blast of water on the leaves or wherever the aphids might be present. Make sure to spray the plant with fast, pressured water, and the aphids will stay for at least some time.

Spray your petunias with insecticidal soap instead of heaping pesticides and chemical products. Make sure to cover the undersides of the leaves as well, and keep spraying continuously as the soap dries out soon.

You can also use mild dish soap. If the attack is severe, mix more soap than water and spray all over. Rubbing alcohol is also workable for getting rid of aphids. Mix equal parts of water and rubbing alcohol and apply over the petunias. Both spray and swab are fine to use.


Petunias are not the only plants that secrete this natural sticky substance. There are many other such plants too. So, it is not highly abnormal, and you shouldn’t be too worried. I hope I’ve got you all the reasons for your query- “why are my petunias sticky”.

Just keep watering them, giving them nourishment, and taking care of them with love, and they will be just fine.

Have you dealt with an aphid attack on your petunia plant? Share your experiences in the comment section down below.