The Q&A Archives: unhappy hibicus

Question: We live in Tampa Bay Area. Our house has a NE exposure. We don't get a lot of shade yet. My hibiscus bushes have a habitual problem with high aphids, spider mites, yellow leaf and black spot. I do not like using harsh pesticides because my family is alergic. Two months ago I gave the three bushes 1500 lady bug beetles. The helped some, but most were blown away in a storm. I am going to try spraying with soap next. Is there any other solution for the aphids and mites? What causes the yellow leaves and black spots? I've pruned out the suckers, given them time released plant food and water occasionally. We are under water restrictions for drought. They are giving off beautiful, almost perfect flowers if no aphids get on the bud. So what do I do or not do to control the pests and cure the yellow leaves and black spots?

Answer: I've had great success with insecticidal soap in controlling aphids. It's made from fatty acids of certain plants, which makes it relatively safe for people, plants, and beneficials such as ladybugs. Since aphids can multiply at an alarming rate, you'll need to inspect your plants on a daily basis and spray as needed. Eventually you'll control the pests. Spider mites like dry, dusty places. The best way to deter them is to hose your plants off with plain water every few days. As for the leaves that are yellowing and developing black spots, pinch them off the plant and remove them from the garden. If you make it part of your daily routine to pinch off affected leaves, spray aphids with insecticidal soap and hose the plants off every few days, I think you'll find your hibiscus plants respond with lots of healthy growth and beautiful flowers.


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