Hibiscus trees and bushes is one of the most popular plants, and for a good reason. Their beautiful flowers, though short-lived, add an exotic touch to any garden or house plant collection. When cared for properly, they are also easy to grow.
A member of the mallow family, the hibiscus is a warm-weather flower native to tropical regions. Its growing climate and nectar-filled flowers make it a feeding ground for aphids.
How To Know Your Plant Has An Aphid Problem
Your hibiscus plant seemed to be doing so well. Then, in a short amount of time, you notice it does not appear to be so healthy:
- Flowers look deformed
- Stems and leaves begin to yellow
When you examine your plant, you notice a cluster of small bugs that look like specks from a distance. They move about the stems and flowers.
There also appears to be a sticky residue that you had not noticed before. These are the classic signs of an aphid infestation.
What Are Aphids?
Aphids are pear-shaped insects that can vary in color from green to yellow to brown, depending on what type of plant they enjoy eating.
They have long legs and antennae. Most species of aphids have wings, allowing them to multiply and spread.
Like most pests, they feed off the plants they inhabit. Aphids inject saliva into the plant through their slender mouths and then suck out the plant fluids.
It takes a short time with large infestations before the plant’s fluid is completely drained.
What Damage Can Aphids Cause?
Aphids are feeding monsters. Their voracious appetites can cause severe damage to your hibiscus.
Leaf distortion, spotting, and leaf death are signs of an average size infestation.
In larger untreated infestations, aphids can cause the complete collapse of your plant.
Aphids are also prone to carry plant viruses that can cause further damage. The sticky residue they produce can also attract other pests.
How To Prevent a Sizeable Aphid Infestation
It is always better to prevent than to have to treat. The easiest way is to check your hibiscus at least twice a week. Look at the underside of your plant’s leaves.
Aphids can reproduce and give birth as many as twelve times a day. So a minor infestation can become a major one very quickly.
Look for natural enemies of the aphid, such as lady beetles and lacewings. The presence of aphid enemies most likely means the presence of aphids.
How To Treat An Aphid Infestation
There are several ways to control an aphid infestation.
Syringing is the process of washing your plant with a powerful and controlled jet of water. The water will dislodge the aphids while rinsing away the residue they leave that attracts other pests.
Another effective method is to wipe down your hibiscus with essential oils. Rosemary, garlic, and hot pepper are all effective killers of aphids and will discourage re-infestation.
Natural insecticidal soaps are also a reliable alternative method.
More Pest Control Methods For Bad Infestations
Sometimes the primary methods are not enough to deal with your aphid infestation.
If your hibiscus needs extra care, using Pyrethrum may be a good option. It is a botanical poison that can also kill beneficial aphid predators.
Another good option is a dusting of diatomaceous earth. Even though it is also a natural deterrent, it is a good idea to use this method sparingly. It can also be deadly to aphid predators.
Prevention Is The Best Medicine
Preventing any aphid from reaching your hibiscus is a difficult task, especially if your hibiscus is part of your outdoor garden. But, with careful monitoring, you can keep your aphid problems to a minimum.
Being proactive is always effective. Wash your hibiscus down with water, wipe off its leaves, and introduce natural aphid predators to your garden.
Remember, pest control is about maintenance; it is not about elimination. Keeping an eye on your hibiscus’s health will keep it blooming.