My hibiscus is covered in mealybugs. Gross.
While writing an email at my desk last night I pulled open the window shade to look out and watch the rain fall. I clearly don’t do this very often because to my dismay my little hibiscus just outside the window was nothing more than a few sticks dripping with mealybugs. I put my forehead against the glass to make sure I was seeing correctly. Its true, my hibiscus is covered in mealybugs.
The rain continued throughout the night so it wasn’t until today that I was able to get outside and examine for myself. SO GROSS. Mealybugs on hibiscus are common, but this outbreak was not. Apparently it has been much longer than I thought since I looked at this hidden little corner of our yard.
Generally, a few mealybugs aren’t a huge problem. If is see a few on the tip of a branch I just cut off that branch and the majority of the pests are gone. This plant is far from that state. The mealybugs are literally dripping off of the branches.
At this point I’ve decided there are really only two options:
1) Cut the plant to the ground and hope that it doesn’t come back. There are enough plants in this corner that everything would do better without this additional hibiscus.
2) Cut the plant back to 18″ and treat with a systemic insecticide to keep the plant free of pests. Any mealybugs on hibiscus are killed when they feed on the plant. I’ve had very good results using Bayer Tree & Shrub systemic on problem plants and the water soluble formula is good to use around the dogs and chickens because there aren’t any granules left behind.
What does a hibiscus covered in mealybugs tell you?
Here it clearly says the plant is struggling. Plants that are stressed are more attractive to pests; the key is finding out what is causing the stress. I usually start these investigations by looking at water and irrigation. Sure enough, the crinum lily in front of this plant is completely blocking the sprinklers from getting this area wet. Based on the size of the crinum, it seems to me it is easier to get rid of the hibiscus that try to keep the crinum trimmed constantly.
[Side note: Don’t try to keep plants that want to be 6 feet tall as a 3 foot tall plant. You will not win. Either you will get tired of the work required or the plant will suffer and look bad. Just find a new plant that wants to grow to 3′ tall. ]
To add insult to injury I found Lubber grasshoppers too! These two were so big I didn’t even want to step on them. I used my loppers I was cutting the hibiscus with to cut these two in half. While I was taking these photos with my phone I even found that I had rubbed against a branch and there were mealybugs on my phone! Enough is enough.
I decided this plant is not worth trying to save. The loppers for the grasshoppers were just enough to cut the hibiscus to the ground too. Let’s just view this as an opportunity for a new plant (or not, I haven’t decided). There are certain points when removing a problem plant that is heavily infested in pests is better for the overall health of your landscape. This is one of those times.