The hibiscus flowers (Hibiscus spp.) growing in your garden may quickly turn from their usual colorful, bold appearance to lackluster. Aphid pests, the tiny, soft-bodied insects that suck out plant fluid, feed on hibiscus plants. As a result, the cosmetic brilliance of your tropical blooms declines. To avoid the distorted foliage, yellowing and diminished health that may occur with severe infestations, control is essential. If you prefer natural products, consider the many alternatives to chemical insecticides to protect your hibiscus.
Natural enemies, also referred to as beneficial insects, are bugs that often occur naturally in the yard. These bugs kill unwanted pests without causing damage to desired plants. When populations are low or are not adequate to control a pest population, buy additional natural enemies from a garden supply store and release them onto infested hibiscus plants. To control aphids, enemies, such as lady beetles, parasitic wasps, syrphid fly larvae and lacewings, offer reliable natural control.
Garden Hose and Water
One of the most natural, accessible items , and an effective means of aphid removal, is water. Although water itself does not kill aphids, it can easily knock them from their feeding sites on hibiscus plant parts. A strong stream of water, such as that from a garden hose, will decrease the population on the plant. Fortunately, “most dislodged aphids will not be able to return to the plant,” notes University of California Integrated Pest Management Online.
Sticky aphid traps, sold at garden supply stores, trap aphids, particularly those that are flying onto a hibiscus plant. These traps are typically yellow and come with a nontoxic sticky substance that will decrease the population of aphids on plants. The color of the card is significant, as certain colors attract particular pests. One trap is more than adequate for a single hibiscus. Sticky cards may be effective enough for up to 10,000 square feet, depending on the brand.
Soaps and Oils
Some pesticides provide control of aphids while resulting in little harm to natural enemy populations. Natural pesticides may help preserve a healthy predatory bug population, as chemicals kill both harmful and beneficial bugs. Try insecticidal soap, narrow-range oil or neem oil to control aphids. Because these pesticides kill aphids on contact and produce no residual control, completely saturating the infested hibiscus plant is essential. Remember to spray the undersides of leaves because aphids often hide there.
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