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Hibiscus Plant Care

Hibiscus Pest Control

Symptoms Insect
Mottled yellow leaves that worsen   SPIDER MITES
Buds discolor & fall off   THRIPS
Buds turn yellow & fall off   GALL MIDGE
White mess on leaves  
or white-colored flies near plant  
WHITEFLIES
Black, white, or green visible bugs on plant   APHIDS
Bright white, small, cottony spots on leaves   MEALYBUGS
Bright white, tiny, specks on bark   SNOW SCALE
Small dark bugs flying around plant   FUNGUS GNATS
or SHOREFLIES
Ants crawling on plant   ANTS
We would like to live in a world without suffering, no war or disease or..... insect pests! However, our beautiful and lush hibiscus make tempting targets for several insects who have no regard for what they do to the plants. These insects pierce the leaves and suck the sap out of them, sometimes spreading plant viruses as they feed. Or they lay their eggs in the flower buds, making the buds fall off before opening. Or, after sucking plant sap, the insects excrete the remains all over the leaves, making an unsightly mess. Or....well, you get the idea. These insects are referred to as pests, and pests they can truly be! So what should you do if you think your beloved hibiscus has some kind of pest infestation?

FIRST IDENTIFY THE PEST!

We cannot stress this too much! You MUST figure out what pest you have. Each pest is treated differently, and no one pest control product will eliminate all the possible pests your hibiscus could have, no matter how long the list of pests on the bottle looks. If you go out and buy some kind of general pest control product, you may well end up stressing your plant and your wallet without even discomforting the pest that has infected your plant. If you buy the wrong pest control product, you could even end up aiding and abetting the pest infestation by stressing the plant and improving the pest's ability to get a foothold. There are a limited number of pests that infect hibiscus, so it is not as hard as you might think to figure out which one you have.

Fortunately, we have a number of ways to deal with insect pests. The links in the table at the right contain detailed information about the various insect pests that are found on hibiscus and how to control them. We say "control" because you can never eliminate any pest entirely. Even if you eliminate the pests completely from your own hibiscus, they are everywhere in the world around us. Our goal is to control them by limiting their numbers to the level where they do no visible harm and do not multiply out of control.

Control techniques include both chemical and non-chemical approaches. Chemical approaches can be organic (these pesticides are safer for humans and the environment but still require common sense precautions) or synthetic (this includes the pesticides made in the lab that are usually more effective but require following directions so as not to be harmful to the applicator). Non-chemical approaches are also referred to as organic, and do not involve any type of pesticide.

spider mites
Spider Mites
It can be difficult to decide which pest control approach to use. Should you use the most effective means (usually synthetic pesticides) immediately when noticing a problem? Or should you start with the safest but most labor-intensive approach first and check out the results before bringing out the "big guns?" The answer can depend on your own situation. If you are ill or especially sensitive to environmental factors, you probably want to stay away from synthetic pesticides. If you are healthy but very busy and don't have much time or patience to deal with pests, then by all means use the most effective products available. If you are an "organic-only" person, we have suggestions that do work, but may take persistence.

whitefly
White Flies
Pest control starts with noticing that there is a problem. Obtaining a magnifier of some sort helps with seeing these often very small creatures. Some are easily seen, such as white flies and aphids. Others, such as thrips and spider mites, are more difficult to see. Often the pests are not noticed until visible damage appears, by which time the pests are out of control and need to be stopped immediately! Mottled yellow leaves that are rapidly increasing in number are one such visible sign that requires immediate attention. Lack of flowers despite lots of small buds forming (and then falling off before they open) is another visible sign. Fine webbing at the tips of stems, or black sticky deposits on the tops of leaves are other signs of insects that require attention.

The chart at the top of this page will help you get started tracking down your hibiscus pests. Click on the name of each pest for complete information about that pest and its treatment.