The Q&A Archives: webs on hibiscus & crepe myrtle

Question: My hibiscus and crepe myrtle in my back yard both have some kind of webbing on them - I sprayed the hibiscus with a soapy solution and now the leaves are turning yellow - but I still have the webs. I know hibiscus are sensitive to chemicals so am not certain what I should use and still keep my plants.

Answer: It's possible that spider mites have taken up residence on your plants. The insects are tiny, but you can see them with a magnifying glass if you look at the plant stems where the leaves are attached. The most tell-tale sign of spider mites is the webbing they leave. They also cause yellowing of leaves, so your hibiscus may just now be exhibiting symptoms of their feeding. You can control them by directing a strong stream of water on all plant surfaces (upper and lower surfaces of leaves, all the stems, etc.), or by using an insecticidal soap. If you mix up your own soap and water solution and spray it on your plants, there's a chance that the solution will burn the leaves of your plants. Household soap products contain degreasers and caustic chemicals that are harmful to plants. If you spray, use a commercially prepared insecticidal soap; one that's proven to be safe on plants.

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