Tips For Controlling Whiteflies On Hibiscus Plants

Hibiscus plants make up a large genus of the Malvaceae family, consisting of hundreds of species of exotic-looking flowering plants.

These plants are native to temperate and tropical climates and are best known for their big, showy blooms.

Colony of whiteflies that like to feed HibiscusPin

Hibiscus plants are usually categorized as:

These plants grow in a variety of sizes with dark green foliage and long-lasting trumpet-shaped flowers in shades of white, pink, yellow, peach, lavender, and red.

The petals sometimes have multiple colors.

Some common varieties of hibiscus plants include Flower of an Hour, China Rose, Rock Hibiscus, Abelmosk, rosemallows, and Hawaiian hibiscus.

Hibiscus plants prefer a lot of sun exposure, but winter hardiness depends upon the variety.

For instance, tropical hibiscus withstands the winter season in USDA hardiness zones 10 through 12, whereas hardy perennials survive zones 4 to 9.

In colder regions, they are often grown in containers as ornamental plants placed in patios during summer.

When we talk to those who have had white flies on hibiscus nightmares in the past, one common theme that emerges is that they treated their hibiscus plants like all other plants in their landscaping.

That means they got the same water and the same fertilizers, if any, and their gardeners were allowed to cut, whack, and handle them like all other plants on their property.

When grown with full sun, well-drained soil, and adequate water, these plants grow up to 15′ feet tall, and the vibrant flowers can grow as big as 6” inches in diameter.

These plants add exotic allure to a garden when grown singly in containers or as a part of the hedge.

The colorful appearance is particularly attractive to hummingbirds, butterflies, and numerous insects.

General predators include lacewings, bigeyed bugs, and minute pirate bugs.

Several small lady beetles, including Clitostethus arcuatus (on ash whitefly) and scale predators, such as Scymnus or Chilocorus species, and the Asian multicolored lady beetle, Harmonia axyridis, feed on whiteflies.

Whiteflies, Aphids, and mealybugs are among the most common pests infesting these plants.

More on Other Hibiscus Pests:

Here’s a guide on how to get rid of whiteflies on hibiscus plants.

What Are These White Bugs on Hibiscus?

If you notice your plants have a lot of white bugs on hibiscus plants, you likely have a white fly infestation on hibiscus.

A notorious pest associated with the hibiscus plant is the “giant” whitefly (Aeleyrodicus dugesii).

The small whitefly, about 1/16 of an inch, is known by its scientific name Trialeurodes vaporariorum. Whiteflies are tiny, flying insects often found on the underside of leaves.

As the name suggests, they are white or light-colored and survive by sucking the sap out of the leaves, leaving behind sooty mold.

Simply giving a good shake to the infested plant would help you identify the presence of these pests.

When disturbed, whiteflies take flight, forming a thick cloud of flying insects, and come back later to settle on the leaves again.

White fly on hibiscus plants is common in southern and coastal areas, where they are present all year.

However, in northern regions, these white flying bugs on hibiscus target indoor plants grown in containers.

They prefer to feed off various ornamental and vegetable plants, including hibiscus, potato, cucumber, grape, tomato, eggplant, okra, cabbage, citrus, and poinsettia.

Adult whiteflies are 1/16” inch long with powdery white wings and little antennae.

They resemble moths and are found over the leaves and stem ends.

The life cycle of whiteflies begins with adult females laying clusters of 200-400 eggs on the undersides of the leaves of the plant.

The eggs hatch within a week.

Young nymphs are oval-shaped and have a scaly appearance.

Once they pass the stage of the mealybugs, called crawlers, they become flattened, stick to the underside of the leaves, and feed off the host plants.

Hibiscus white flies remain stationary during the rest of the nymphal stages.

After the pupal stage, the nymphs transform into mature adults responsible for repeating the cycle.

The lifespan of each adult is up to 2 months.

Whitefly Damage

Whiteflies, both nymphs and adults, damage the hibiscus plants by sucking the sap from the new plants, resulting in problems like stunted growth, inability to produce flowers, and yellow foliage.

These insects thrive on the plant’s nutrients and water, making it weak and prone to diseases.

Whiteflies are the real culprits behind the transmission of various viral diseases as well.

An additional hazard is a secretion by these white insects on hibiscus.

These stubborn garden pests secrete honeydew, like aphids, which is a sugary, sticky, black residue.

This sooty mold covers the leaves and interferes with the process of photosynthesis.

Whiteflies tarnish the appearance of an otherwise lovely hibiscus plant.

The foliage becomes discolored or starts to fall.

Extensive whitefly infestation can cause severe damage and become fatal for the hibiscus plant.

Hibiscus Whitefly Treatment

So, how to kill whiteflies on hibiscus?

Once you have identified the houseplant pest infestation, here are some tips on proper treatment for whiteflies on hibiscus:

  • Inspect the leaf surfaces of the hibiscus plant and identify flattened whitefly eggs and stationary nymphs. 
  • Use a pair of clippers to prune the infected leaves. 
  • Dispose of them carefully in a bag.
  • To kill whiteflies, always start with a strong water blast with a spray hose. 
  • Do it once every week to scatter the pests. 
  • Once the population scatters, try home remedies for whiteflies on hibiscus: spray soapy water, insecticidal soap (recipe), neem oil, or horticultural oil over the plant, especially coat the underside of the leaves. More on Neem Oil for Whitefly Control.
  • This will suffocate the nymphs and inhibit their growth. 
  • Chemical insecticides might not be as beneficial or as effective as hibiscus white bugs, which are resistant to most of them.
  • Trap whiteflies with yellow sticky traps made out of ¼” inch long plywood divided into 3” by 10” –inch pieces. 
  • Apply petroleum jelly and liquid dish detergent on the pieces after painting them bright yellow. 
  • Place the traps facing the infested hibiscus plant and disturb the foliage. 
  • The insects will fly and stick into the trap.

As a preventive measure to control whitefly population, provide the habitat for their natural predators like hummingbirds and some beneficial insects such as ladybugs, dragonflies, and damselflies.

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