Healthy, fertilized plants are more tolerant of insect attacks.
Be sure plants are well watered before applying chemicals. The best time to
spray for insects is in the morning or evening (temperature under 80) and be
sure to cover the undersides of leaves. For heavy or consistent infestations,
spray every 5-7 days (4 applications) to break the life cycle. Add water soluble
fertilizer and unscented liquid detergent soap to your mixture when spraying.
Check for other host plants in the area that may be re-infesting your plants.
Orthene and soap will control most Hibiscus pests. The honey like secretion
of several insects can attract a black 'sooty mold.' While unsightly, the mold
does little damage and will disappear once you treat the cause. Newly bought
nursery grown plants may need to be allowed to adjust to new conditions in your
yard. Grown in partial shade and well fertilized, they need to be introduced
to full sun over a 7-10 day period and kept well fertilized. Plant in at least
50% sun. Rotate insecticides for best results. Never use Malathion on Hibiscus.
Strong dry winds can burn leaves but they will recover.
1-APHIDS & ANTS Aphids (green, black or brown) are soft bodied
sucking insects that can be controlled with liquid soap (1 tablespoon per gallon)
or a high pressure hose. Orthene and soap for infestations. Ants farm aphids
for a honey like secretion they produce. No aphids, no ants. Use a strong water
spray to the underside of leaves to dislodge and control most insects.
2-SPIDER MITES Most spider mites are too tiny to be seen without
the aid of a magnifying glass. Their webs may or may not be noticeable. Leaves
will develop weak looking pale to yellow splotches on the top while the undersides
will develop pimple like bumps to scabby areas. Miticides or fine oils need
to be applied several times (4) to break the life cycle.
3-MEALY BUGS Orthene and soap will usually control these soft
bodied sucking insects. Mist with alcolgol spray. It dissolves their protective
4-WHITE FLY Hibiscus dandruff. Orthene and Murphy's Oil soap
will help control these deadly pests. They are on the underside of leaves and
4 applications may be needed.
5-SCALE These sucking insects are best treated in the Spring
when they are young and moving about. The most common is the small white scale
that starts at the base of the trunk and works up. Orthene and a fine oil; a
weak solution of bleach and a tooth brush; or a light spraying with Pam or WD-40
will also work.
6-YELLOWING LEAVES This can be a sign of stress or even natural
growth. Causes can be too much water or not enough water - too much fertilizer
or not enough - or insect damage. Check for insects and reverse whatever else
you are doing or not doing.
7-BUD DROP This can be caused by stress but it is usually a
small insect called a thrip. The thrip girdles the flower's calyx stem where
it connects to the base stem. Orthene and soap will help control thrips.
8-FREEZE AND WIND DAMAGE Hibiscus are tropical plants and do
not tolerate cold weather. Well watered and fertilized plants will fare better.
Blankets, cardboard or a thick layer of mulch or straw will help. Do not spray
to ice over the plants as this will kill them. Plastic, while better than nothing,
is poor protection. Do not prune until Spring and prune into living tissue.
9-PRUNING Hibiscus can be pruned any time of the year except
late fall and winter. New growth is more susceptible to freeze damage. Expect
blooms on the new growth in about 3 months. Use sharp, clean and good quality
pruning shears and cut just above (1/4 inch) an eye that is pointing in the
direction you want the new growth to go.
10-CONTAINER GROWN PLANTS Use a loose soil (1/4 perlite) and
do not let water stand in the saucer as they must drain well. Frequent use of
water soluble fertilizer and light use of traditional granular fertilizer is
best. When 'potting up' prune both the plant and the roots to promote new balanced
growth. If placed indoors, mist or use a humidifier and place in a sunny location.
11-SOIL AND FERTILIZER Loose well drained soil is preferred
to prevent root rot. Fertilize lightly and often. Balanced fertilizer with trace
elements such as 10-10-10 work well. Foliar feeding with water soluble fertilizer
(and soap) can be applied weekly. Keep mulch 2 inches from the trunk.
12-WINTER PROOFING Up North your hibiscus plants will need
to be brought inside for the Winter. In the deeper south, like Florida, you
may only have to cover your plants to protect them from a light frost. When
Winter approaches, it is a good idea to use a fertilizer like 2-10-10 to harden
up your hibiscus plants.
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