The Q&A Archives: White Specks on Hibiscus Buds

Question: A month and a half ago I purchased a potted flowering Hibiscus tree. Recently the leaves started looking sickly and turning yellow and I noticed small white specks on the buds. I cannot tell whether these specks are bugs or some sort of fungus. Please help.

Answer: I'd venture that the yellowing leaves are a result of insect damage and white specks on the buds are the culprits in person. They could be aphids, or a new colony of mealybugs. Aphids and mealybugs feed by sucking out the plant juices, which often causes yellowing, cupping and/or curling of leaves. Try washing the white specks off with plain water. If they wipe away under running water, they were insects. If the white stays on, especially after trying to wipe them off under running water, you may be dealing with a fungal disease. If so, cut away the affected buds and any leaves with similar specks. Then place your plant where it will get better light and air circulation to prevent the conditions that encourage the growth of fungus and mildew.

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