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 waxy cover.

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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