|we had a hibiscus in a planter in back yard last year and it did well, but these little white bugs got on it and ate heartily. they may be aphids, but i don't know bugs that well. if they are, what can i treat the plant with to get rid of them but not harm the plant.
|Based on your description I am not sure if you had an aphid or whitefly problem. Aphids are soft bodied and feed at the tender new growth tips of the plant. They can be knocked off with a spray of water from the garden hose; also avoid overfertilizing as this can encourage soft lush growth that is extra attractive to aphids. Ladybugs and their larvae will feed on aphids and control an infestation pretty quickly.
Whitefly is a fairly common problem on hibiscus, it looks somewhat like a little white colored fruit fly and will fly up when the plant is disturbed. This can be treated with commercially formulated insecticidal soap per the label directions. Be sure to contact all parts of the plant from top to bottom with the spray and do the recommended follow up spray as indicated on the label.
Inspect your plants carefully for pests before you bring them home and avoid any showing problems. After you bring plants home inspect regularly for pests. It is easier to control them if you catch them early, especially whitefly.