Hibiscus flowers are easy to grow and produce an attractive flower in bright shades of red, pink, and orange. However, these plants attract more than just human admirers. Pests and diseases can kill or weaken your prize hibiscus. Read on to learn how can you prevent them and what can you do if they have already taken hold.
Prevention is Better Than Cure
It’s best to prevent infestations by ensuring that the plants are properly spaced out in your garden. That will make it more difficult for viruses and pests to spread, and make it easier for you to remove diseased plants quickly before they pose a threat to the rest of your flower bed. If you have a small yard, however, spacing your plants may be a challenge.
Other steps you can take include disinfecting your tools and garden implements between uses and spreading clean mulch to reduce the risk of weed growth, which may encourage the spread of disease. If you live near the ocean, use seaweed as a mulch to deter pests like slugs and snails.
If you do spot a diseased plant, pull it out as soon as possible to reduce the risk of it contaminating other plants.
Identifying the Problem
Use a magnifying glass to look for aphids or flies. Hibiscus can be particularly prone to white flies. Spray off such creatures with a hose or a watering can, and pick off caterpillars by hand.
It is difficult to spot tiny red spider mites, which tend to visit gardens during dry weather. However, if your hibiscus plant has yellowing leaves, this is a sure sign that your garden has been invaded by them. Likewise, if your hibiscus has plenty of buds that do not open up into flowers, it may be because thrips have laid eggs in the buds and caused them to fall off.
Encourage predators to come eat your pests. For example, you can buy nematodes from gardening stores. These are harmless to people and pets, yet fatal to pests that like to eat young seedlings. You can also buy predators like ladybugs and praying mantises.
You can also try making your own bug repellents. For problems with mites, try leaving a couple of pinches of cayenne pepper in a quart of water overnight, then spraying the mixture onto the leaves of the hibiscus. Once the mites taste this concoction, they should disappear off to someone else’s backyard.
If natural methods of pest and disease control do not work, you might have to resort to using a chemical pesticide. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions on such products to the letter to ensure that you do not damage the hibiscus, other plants, or your outdoor pets.