Hibiscus are beautiful flowering plants, and not only are they attractive to humans – but also the dreaded whitefly.
These tiny white flies home in on your plants to nibble away at the rich, juicy leaves and leave you with a dry, depleted-looking plant. As well as whiteflies, white aphids on hibiscus might cause confusion – but the flies have wings, and the aphids do not. When disturned, the whiteflies fly off in a misty cloud. But similar methods of control can take care of aphids and flies alike.
Are hibiscus prone to whiteflies?
Whiteflies like many plants – but hibiscus is one of its favorites. How can they resist those juicy, tender leaves? They like the red and yellow ones best of all.
Like many garden or houseplant pests, whiteflies home in on weak or poorly cared for plants. If you would like to find out how to let your hibiscus last 50 years, there is a 6-minute video below for you to check out:
A word about the fertilizer mentioned on the video – we found a similar one here – HWTONG EB Stone Organics Sure Start Fertilizer 4 lbs.. It claims to be natural and organic, rich in phosphorus and many other beneficial ingredients. It does contain blood meal – so keep your dog away when it’s fresh!
Whitefly damage to hibiscus plants
The nymphs and the adults suck the plant’s sap. Apart from seeing the whiteflies, you will see the hibiscus are stunted – they don’t produce flowers, and the leaves turn yellow and droop. This stunting also weakens the plant and makes it susceptible to other diseases. The whitefly itself can be a carrier of viruses causing infections in your plants.
You will see small white oblong eggs on the underside of the leaves together with the oval nymphs and the whitefly on hibiscus leaves.
How to get rid of whiteflies on hibiscus plants
There are several ways to get rid of pests, including whiteflies, from your hibiscus. And if you have whiteflies on indoor hibiscus, these methods work just as well.
- Remove those leaves with the pest on them – only suitable for mild infestations – and you may need to repeat this several times. Make sure you dispose of them in a lidded container or plastic bag.
- Hose the underside of the leaves – this is better when there are many whiteflies, and you should be able to remove the eggs at the same time. Again, you may need to repeat this every week. This process will also remove any sooty mold that the whiteflies have secreted. You may need to use some pressure to dislodge the eggs.
- Vacuum them up with a handheld vacuum. Do this in cooler weather when the insects are sluggish. Place the vacuum bag in a plastic bag inside the freezer overnight – this will kill the pests.
- Neem oil spray. A natural, organic substance made from neem oil from the neem tree – fairly specific to pests, meaning your bees are safe with neem oil, unlike many other insecticides. Make sure you apply it to the undersides of the leaves to target the nymphs. You can buy neem oil ready to use here – Natria 706230A Insecticidal Soap Organic Miticide, 24 oz, Ready-to-Use.
- Pesticides are a last choice since they kill off whitefly predators. These insects tend to increase as the autumn weather cools down, and so the whitefly fades away. Many of the whitefly species have become resistant to pesticides that would usually kill them.
- Traps – these insects love the color yellow, so coat a yellow surface with one part petroleum jelly to one part liquid dish detergent and apply to the surface of the trap, and place the traps around the plants. You can refresh the traps with soap and water and replacing the gel.
You can buy ready-made ones here – 24 Pack Yellow Sticky Traps for Indoor Outdoor Natural Pest Control, Fruit Fly Trap and Yellow Fungus Gnat Traps for House Plants, Whitefly, Mosquito Bits, Flying Insects, Fly Traps Save Your Plants, in different shapes – (Butterfly, Sun Flower, Carrot, Bird, Cat, Tulip.) If you shake the hibiscus over the traps, the whiteflies will land on the traps instead of returning to eat your hibiscus.
Home remedies for whiteflies on hibiscus
A vinegar trap
We have already mentioned the traps you can make with petroleum gel and insecticidal soap.
There is another type of trap you can make using vinegar. Take a lump of cotton wool and soak it in vinegar. Wrap it in cling film and punch a few holes in the wrap before placing the traps around your hibiscus. To get rid of the whiteflies on hibiscus leaves, spray diluted vinegar onto the undersides of the leaves. You may need to repeat this after a few days. The small will disperse after an hour or so.
Insecticidal soap sprays
Household soaps will kill off the whiteflies. Just mix a tablespoon of liquid soap with two liters of water for an effective spray.
Preventing Whiteflies on Hibiscus Plants
Prevention is difficult. Whiteflies come so readily that they have taken possession before you know it, and there is no way to deter them. Although the traps might redirect them, it takes constant vigilance to kill the little pests as soon as they arrive – this is the only way to keep their numbers down.
Whiteflies like the colors yellow and red, and they like hibiscus plants as well. Getting rid of them needs a double approach – an insecticidal soap spray or neem oil for the eggs and larvae on the underside of the leaves and then traps for the adults.
You will have to stay alert since these tiny pests come back, and you will need to repeat your treatments. Hibiscus are beautiful plants, but unfortunately, the words “whiteflies hibiscus” seem to go together. But you have seen how to control these little pests and how to make your hibiscus live for 50 years!
What is the ratio of soap to water for whiteflies on hibiscus?
2-5 tablespoons of liquid soap mixed with one gallon of water should do the trick – but you may need to repeat the application every two weeks or so.
Can you use neem oil on hibiscus plants?
Neem oil is a good choice for whitefly control on hibiscus plants. Mix 1 ½ teaspoon of the neem oil with one teaspoon of mild soap and 21 liters of tepid water. Put the mix into a spray bottle and shake well. Neem oil also prevents powdery mildew on the leaves. You can find more information on neem oil here.