The Q&A Archives: Gardenia Pests

Question: Suddenly my gardenia has dropping leaves and whiteflies swarming. This has happened in the space of one day. Can I use insectidial soap?

Answer: Gardenias are especially sensitive to the fatty acids contained in insecticidal soaps. If you use the product on your plant, the leaves may turn crispy brown. You can try hosing the insects off, making sure you direct the spray of water to the undersides as well as the upper surfaces of each leaf, and all of the stems where eggs may be. Instead of spraying insecticidal soap to control the insects, why not make a sticky trap. Just use bright yellow paper, or paint an index card bright yellow. Then smear the surface with 'Tanglefoot' or petroleum jelly to make it sticky. Mount the trap on a stick or carefully place it in the foliage of your gardenia plant. The whiteflies will be attracted to the bright yellow, will land on the surface and get hopelessly stuck. Replace the trap as necessary.

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