I know the feeling – you touch the leaves on your Gardenia plants, and a flurry of whiteflies take off in the air. Getting rid of whiteflies may require a horticultural oil or insecticidal soap.
Picking off bugs, setting natural traps, or adding predators to your garden may help but is time-consuming.
What Are Whiteflies?
Gardenias are beautiful and an excellent addition to your garden. But unfortunately, the evergreen Gardenia shrub invites small whiteflies, which suck up the sap and plant juices from the plant’s foliage. This whitefly feast can cause a dry, yellow, or dead leaf that will fall off eventually.
Sooty mold is another by-product of whitefly infestation.
Whiteflies are not classified as flies. They are small organisms that resemble mealybugs, insects, and Gardenia aphids. You can recognize them by their powder white exterior and minuscule month-like appearance. When they rest, their wings rest at an angle to form protection over their body.
But how do they affect Gardenias? Both the immature and adult forms of whiteflies feed themselves by extracting plant sap. They cause the same damage as aphids by stunting the plant’s growth, transforming the leaves into a dead, yellow state.
Whiteflies also emit a honeydew substance, which causes the plant’s leaves to become sticky and shiny. The honeydew also causes the harmful growth of mold and fungi.
Related: Learn more about Gardenia Bugs
How Can You Control Whiteflies On Gardenias?
Pesticides like insecticidal soaps and horticultural oil sprays are the best solutions against whiteflies.
When spraying plants, cover all surfaces with oil or soap, including the undersides of the leaves. Apply the solution a few more times at 4-7 day intervals for the best effects.
You might still wonder how to get rid of whiteflies on Gardenia without utilizing harmful chemicals. Check out these other helpful tips to keep your Gardenia whitefly-free.
Monitor the Leaves Closely
At least once per week, inspect underneath your Gardenia’s leaves for adult pests, eggs, and immature whiteflies. The pests and eggs can sometimes be challenging to spot, so you can rub the leaves and look out for a sandpaper texture.
Pick Off the Leaves
If you see any leaves that suffer from infestation from immature whiteflies and eggs, pick them off. Doing so will prevent further damage to the rest of the plant. If you handpick any damaged foliage, you can limit the smaller populations of whiteflies.
Create Sticky Traps
If you want to get creative with it, you can create a sticky yellow trip with plywood or a masonite board. You begin by painting the surface with a stickier solution of petroleum jelly and a liquid detergent. You can then fix the trap to a wooden platform or stake and stick it next to the Gardenia.
It is a passive way to trap the whiteflies because they will fly and stick to the trap. You should periodically wipe off any caught insects and coat the trap again.
If you own a handheld vacuum, you can extract the whiteflies with this device too. Try to vacuum in the earlier, cold hours of the morning when the pests are not alert.
Dispose of the leftover debris into a bag and put it in the freezer for at least 12 hours to eliminate any pests.
Another effective whitefly repellent is aluminum foil. You can cut out 2-3 inches of aluminum foil and spread it around your plant to fight off the whiteflies. Ensure you remove weeds before applying the foil, and be careful about leaving it too long during the summer months for overheating.
You can also release natural enemies to hunt and combat the whiteflies. There are lacewings, lady beetles, predator flies, and parasitic wasps that you can expose to the invading whiteflies. These beneficial insects naturally eat whiteflies and will effectively protect your plant.
Check out these articles on Parasitic Wasps:
A simple and effective strategy for eliminating whiteflies is water. You can deliver a strong spray from the water hose to wash any whitefly adults or larvae. For the best pest control outcomes, you should try and spray the plan at least one time per week.
Liquids and Dish Soap
Another helpful solution for killing whiteflies is 1-2 teaspoons of non-detergent, liquid, or dish soap combined with a gallon of water. You can deploy the mixture from any handheld garden sprayer.
As you spray your Gardenia, ensure that you spray upward to cover the undersides of leaves of the Gardenia plant.
After the first application, you should repeat this process every three to five days if the whitefly population sticks around. The best time of the day to spray is on a cloudy day or early morning to avoid sunlight damaging your plant.