The Q&A Archives: Disease, Fungus, Insects Related

Question: I have a hibiscus I've been treating with bug b gon but haven't had
any results as of yet. I have brand new leaves that are developing
that look curled up looking, and fully developed leaves that are
looking like they have tears in the leaves and look like brown lines
running through the leaf as well as some that are yellow. The problem
is more with the curled up leaves and the tears and holes in the leaves I had suspected earlier that it might be a bug problem and treated with the above but as of yet have had no results. Can you help me solve this dilema. I do not want to loose this plant if possible. Thanks Charlotte Siedelmann

Answer: Based on your description I am not sure exactly what is happening to your plant. It is possible that there is more than one problem. Since you have already tried to treat it without success, I would suggest you work with your county extension to determine what is affecting it. Based on knowing that specifically you can then begin to treat the problems. Without knowing the specific cause, it is impossible to suggest what to do with any certainty. If it is something that requires a chemical control, they will be able to tell you what to use and the best way and time(s) for applying it. Then be sure to read and follow all of the label instructions. Also be sure to tell them that you have already tried to treat it and with what.

In the meantime, make sure your plant is receiving ample sunlight and is located where it gets good air circulation. Inspect it carefully for signs of aphids (small soft bodied sucking insects at the tips of new growth can cause deformed foliage) and spider mites (tiny insects that leave fine webbing on the undersides of the foliage and along the stems, also cause stippled discoloration and sometimes also curling). Both of these can be washed off with a spray of water from the garden hose, washing it twice a week for several weeks should do the trick, make sure to contact the undersides of the leaves and the stems with the water. They can also be treated with commercially formulated insecticidal soap.

If it is a fungal problem then removing the discolored foliage and increasing air circulation should help. Avoid wetting the foliage and do not handle the plant when it is wet.

The holes and tears could be caused by a variety of things from hail to leaf cutter bees to snails to a playful puppy to a bacterial disease problem. You may have to do some detective work to figure out what is causing those.

Some of the yellowing can also be due to seasonal changes and shock of being moved, especially if you have recently moved it outdoors for the summer or just brought it home from the store. In low light the plant will also tend to yellow and drop leaves so if it is a new plant, it may just be readjusting to the growing location.

SInce there are so many symptoms I really would suggest you work with your local professionals to diagnose the problem(s). I'm sorry you are having trouble with your plant.

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