Hibiscus forum: Newbie has question about Red Hibiscus and bugs

Views: 538, Replies: 10 » Jump to the end
Name: Genny
Madison, Wisconsin (Zone 5a)
waubesa94
Dec 29, 2014 7:57 PM CST
Hello everyone. I've worked several spring/summer seasons in a large garden center for several years. I've learned a lot, but as a merchandiser, I'm no expert. Last summer I decided to take a chance and buy a red hibiscus - I live in southern Wisconsin - and when the weather got colder I took it to my office, replanted in a larger container, and placed it in a sunny window. The leaves were 'sticky' for weeks and weeks and then I noticed what looks like a white peppery soot over the leaves. Nevertheless, it (otherwise) looked great and I had numerous blooms. In the last two weeks, it has taken a turn for the worse: leaves at the top, but branches look as though they have been stripped down to the soil. Today I noticed these bugs all over the leaves. The pic quality is poor due to the close-up I attempted, but best I can do of these six-legged brown with orange backed nasties. Does anyone have an idea what these guys are? Aphids or something else? Would it be best to try Neem Oil or my own dish soap DIY solution? I also have some food grade diatomaceous earth capsulses. With the latter, should I place the DE in water or sprinkle dry over the leaves? Any replies greatly appreciated!

Thumb of 2014-12-30/waubesa94/968bd1


Thumb of 2014-12-30/waubesa94/286ca9

Name: Elaine
South Sarasota, Florida (Zone 9b)
The one constant in life is change
Cat Lover Master Gardener: Florida Tropicals Multi-Region Gardener Vegetable Grower Region: Florida
Herbs Orchids Birds Garden Ideas: Level 2 Garden Sages Celebrating Gardening: 2015
Image
dyzzypyxxy
Dec 29, 2014 8:27 PM CST
Hi Genny, and welcome to ATP. Let's hope we can help you here.

Your pictures are plenty fuzzy, but at least in the second one, the larger black bug with the orange markings is a ladybug larva which is eating the bad bugs! Encourage it, don't squish it. Rescue it if you can before you treat the plant.

The small bugs, honestly don't know, maybe a type of mites. But they're definitely a sucking insect of some sort. Your first clue was the sticky stuff on the leaves early on in the program. That is never a good sign. It is known as "honeydew" but is the droppings of small sucking insects.

If there's any way you could take it into a shower or bathtub and give it a good hosing down with lukewarm water, that would be a first line of defence. It will wash off a good number of the bugs, and give the plant a much-needed respite.

Next, I'd try the soapy water spray, 1/2tsp. of dish soap to a quart of water, and make sure to spray every surface of the plant - backs of leaves, stems, soil surface, the edges of the pot, everywhere there could be little bugs lurking. If you can do this while it is in the shower stall or bathtub, (or outside on a warm day??) that will enable you to go crazy with the spray and really get it covered well.

Then you need to repeat the soapy water spray in a week or so. There will be eggs in the nooks and crannies of the plant that will hatch and start your problems all over again if you don't re-spray.

Then, as a preventative, the DE powder, used dry, will kill off any stray bugs of other kinds. It's not acceptable to use DE outside in the garden, as it kills beneficial bugs like bees and ladybugs as well as bad ones. But indoors, it is a great preventive measure. DE is not a chemical, it is the shells of microscopic creatures which are like tiny shards of broken glass. They abrade the bodies of bugs, slugs and snails, and cause them to die of dehydration.
Elaine

"Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm." –Winston Churchill
Name: Genny
Madison, Wisconsin (Zone 5a)
waubesa94
Dec 29, 2014 9:34 PM CST
Thank-you for your advice (and quick reply!) Elaine. Yep, I think the best thing to do is maybe bring my baby home and stick it in the shower. Right now, it is very cold here - upper teens, low 20's for highs - so I can't put the plant outside, but agree that a thorough spraying with plain water is needed as the 'soot' is now all around the rim of the planter. I'm surprised that these are ladybug larva; guess I've never really seen them in this stage, but I searched Google for pics and they match up 'spot on.' I'll also try the diy dish soap mixture and then DE if the problems persist. This is an experiment for me more than anything, but I'd love to keep 'biscy' going until warmer weather arrives, which is some months off at this point. I really love this flowering plant and so do the hummingbirds I had this past summer. Thanks again for your help!!
Name: Elaine
South Sarasota, Florida (Zone 9b)
The one constant in life is change
Cat Lover Master Gardener: Florida Tropicals Multi-Region Gardener Vegetable Grower Region: Florida
Herbs Orchids Birds Garden Ideas: Level 2 Garden Sages Celebrating Gardening: 2015
Image
dyzzypyxxy
Dec 29, 2014 10:23 PM CST
By the way, here's how I use DE - to get it in a fine dusting all over the plant and the soil surface, I put the powder in a 'puffer' bottle, which is a soft-sided plastic bottle with a tapered end. Fill the bottle about 1/3 full and puff the powder out with the air.

You might want to 'invest' in a bag of hort grade DE, it's much cheaper than the food grade capsules, and you'd use up a lot of capsules on a fairly large plant (which it sounds like your hibiscus is). I got a 4lb. bag at Home Depot for something like $5 (it was a while ago, so I don't remember, but it wasn't a lot).

Elaine

"Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm." –Winston Churchill
Name: Dan
Florida (Zone 9b)
Avid gardener. Grow many Orchids a
Daniel
Jan 7, 2015 4:50 AM CST
I agree it definitely sounds/looks like a Spider Mite infestation but think the DE will be slow to show results. I have had excellent results with a standard, over the counter insecticide, if you are not unwilling to use chemicals. Probably available at the garden center you worked at. Dan
Name: Elaine
South Sarasota, Florida (Zone 9b)
The one constant in life is change
Cat Lover Master Gardener: Florida Tropicals Multi-Region Gardener Vegetable Grower Region: Florida
Herbs Orchids Birds Garden Ideas: Level 2 Garden Sages Celebrating Gardening: 2015
Image
dyzzypyxxy
Jan 7, 2015 9:26 AM CST
I think trying the soapy water routine first would be my recommendation. (see my first post above) It's non-toxic and also the bugs don't get resistant to it as they do to insecticides, because it kills them mechanically, not by poisoning. I always try the soapy water first, and it usually does the job. Then break out the big guns, and go spend big bucks on poison only if I must.

The DE was a preventative measure, after the initial big infestation is taken care of, which I sure hope it already is. Genny?
Elaine

"Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm." –Winston Churchill
Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
I helped beta test the first seed swap Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter Region: Pacific Northwest Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Vegetable Grower
Avid Green Pages Reviewer Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Charter ATP Member
Image
RickCorey
Jan 7, 2015 12:32 PM CST
Can I ask: do many plant-sucking bugs lay eggs in soil, or hide in the soil?

I noticed you said to spray the soil surface, but didn't urge drenching, dunking or replacing the top layer of soil. Is that ever worthwhile doing to prevent their return?
Name: Elaine
South Sarasota, Florida (Zone 9b)
The one constant in life is change
Cat Lover Master Gardener: Florida Tropicals Multi-Region Gardener Vegetable Grower Region: Florida
Herbs Orchids Birds Garden Ideas: Level 2 Garden Sages Celebrating Gardening: 2015
Image
dyzzypyxxy
Jan 7, 2015 1:48 PM CST
No, probably not Rick. But eggs could be washed down to the base of the plant, into the leaf axils or onto the soil surface and if conditions are right, hatch and the little crawlers climb back onto the plant.

Any plants that come into my house get a dusting of DE on the soil surface, just as a precaution. Down here, it's very common for ants and roaches to hide/nest in house plants, warm moist environment etc. For that reason I rarely keep any plants in the house, although some of my orchids will be coming indoors tonight for a sleepover. (cold outside . .. we are having 'winter' for a night or two)

We also have a beastie here called a Sri Lanka Weevil, and I tried an experimental dusting of DE under a plant outside to see if it would slow them down. They feed on the leaves of plants, the adults mate on the underside of the leaves then the females drop down and burrow under the soil or mulch to lay eggs. They are singularly resistant to most insecticides, but I was thinking possibly the DE would help to break the life cycle as the new nymphs begin to climb out of the soil onto the plant again. Meanwhile a family of mockingbirds developed a taste for the adults, so the plant was saved in spite of my efforts. Didn't see any re-infestation but it may have been the DE or it may have been the birdies.

Elaine

"Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm." –Winston Churchill
Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
I helped beta test the first seed swap Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter Region: Pacific Northwest Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Vegetable Grower
Avid Green Pages Reviewer Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Charter ATP Member
Image
RickCorey
Jan 7, 2015 3:32 PM CST
dyzzypyxxy said:...
We also have a beastie here called a Sri Lanka Weevil, and I tried an experimental dusting of DE under a plant outside to see if it would slow them down. ... Meanwhile a family of mockingbirds developed a taste for the adults, ...


Cool! Nature restored a balance once it had enough time.

Name: Elaine
South Sarasota, Florida (Zone 9b)
The one constant in life is change
Cat Lover Master Gardener: Florida Tropicals Multi-Region Gardener Vegetable Grower Region: Florida
Herbs Orchids Birds Garden Ideas: Level 2 Garden Sages Celebrating Gardening: 2015
Image
dyzzypyxxy
Jan 7, 2015 4:32 PM CST
Yup, it's a little bit 'hit or miss' with the birds though. Year before last the weevils decimated all my hibiscus, plumbago and roses before I was able to slow them down. The mockingbirds now come around more often since I changed the fare in my birdfeeders, and put out a water supply. Now I put out some mealworms in one feeder in the spring, and gradually taper off the supply going into the summer so the mockingbirds aren't too fat to look for weevils on the shrubs. They won't come for just regular seeds.
Elaine

"Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm." –Winston Churchill
Name: Doris Klene
Greensburg,Indiana.
Horse,cattle owners click klenepipe
Charter ATP Member Mules Daylilies Tropicals Plant and/or Seed Trader Cut Flowers
Container Gardener Birds Bromeliad Seed Starter Region: Indiana Plumerias
Image
kareoke
Jan 8, 2015 7:30 AM CST
waubesa94 Those little white bugs are White Flies and they multiply FAST, if you can get your plant in your tub and spray them with tepid water, and then spray good with the soapy water, I only used Neem Oil once and it did not agree with my plants at all.
White flies are easy to see, spider mites are almost impossible but if you look very close you will see the fine web that they weave around the new leaves.

« Garden.org Homepage
« Back to the top
« Forums List
« Hibiscus forum
You must first create a username and login before you can reply to this thread.

Today's site banner is by Baja_Costero and is called "Agave"