Q: I have an old timey hibiscus that comes back every year and something is eating the leaves. What can I put on it to stop the bugs from eating holes in the leaves?
Hardiness Zone: 7b
Faith from Starkville, MS
A: There are numerous insects that feed on hibiscus leaves including mealy bugs, white flies, aphids and spider mites. One of the easiest ways to control any of these insects is to spray your hibiscus (don't blast them) with the garden hose, or if you are growing them in pots, cover the surface of the pot with foil and stick the plant in the shower for a minute or two. Make sure you get the underside of the leaves, too. Another non-toxic solution is to spray the plant with horticultural oil or an insecticidal soap. Make your own soap with a tbsp of liquid dish soap, two cloves of chopped garlic, a small chopped onion and 2 cups of water. Blend these together and strain out the pulp. Pour into a hand held sprayer and apply to plants every few days after seeing the first signs of damage.
Earwigs and slugs usually eat the green leaves of plants. I use a diazinon (or generic) or some type of product that kills these bugs and sprinkle that on. It helps to control them, but needs reapplying occasionally. They also love hostas. (06/16/2006)
If the problem is slugs, you can crush egg shells and sprinkle them around the plant. The slugs wont crawl over as the egg shells cut their body. (06/16/2006)
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