En EspaŅol

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
    
 
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Sunday - November 09, 2008

From: Delray beach, FL
Region: Southeast
Topic: Diseases and Disorders
Title: Problems with hibiscus in Florida
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Have a hibiscus in Florida. It has always done beautifully planted in the ground. This year, it has developed something where the branches are sort of white, and the buds (and ends of branches) look all shriveled up. Any ideas?

ANSWER:

There are a number of hibiscus native to North America and to Florida, including Hibiscus aculeatus (comfortroot), Hibiscus grandiflorus (swamp rosemallow), Hibiscus laevis (halberdleaf rosemallow) and Hibiscus moscheutos (crimsoneyed rosemallow). There are many more hibiscus that are tropical in nature, and not native to North America. At the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, we are dedicated to the care and propagation of plants native to North America and to the area in which they are being grown.

Since we have no idea which or what hibiscus you have, we can only give you some very general information on what we think may be causing your problem.

Aphids and ants (from the University of California Integrated Pest Management site) are frequent pests of hibiscus.  Ants farm the aphids for "honey", a  secretion from the aphids. This secretion, on the underside of leaves, may eventually develop a sooty mold and give a dark color to the underside of the leaves.

Spider mites (from Ohio State University Extension) are so tiny they are difficult to see with the naked eye, but if you tap a leaf over a white sheet of paper, you will see little red dots if the spider mites are present. 

Mealy bugs (from Minnesota Dept. of Horticulture) are small flattened oval insects covered with a white powdery wax.

Whiteflies (from University of Missouri Extension) are sometimes referred to as "plant dandruff" and might be the reason for the white effect on your plant's branches. Like most of the others above, they suck on the plants juices, and can produce shriveling and browning. 

The good news is that most, if not all, of these pests can be controlled by directing a hard spray of water onto the plant, especially on the undersides of the leaves. Once washed off, the insects have difficulty getting back up. You can also use a weak solution of Safer insecticidal soap. 

Pictures of Hibiscus grandiflorus (swamp rosemallow)


Hibiscus aculeatus

Hibiscus laevis

Hibiscus moscheutos

 

 

More Diseases and Disorders Questions

Yellow, pale green leaves on Cedar Elms in Texas
August 30, 2008 - I have had several cedar elms of various sizes planted in our yard over the last 10 years. Only the largest has dark green, healthy looking leaves. All the others have yellowish, pale green leaves. Th...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants on lantana in Dallas
September 14, 2005 - For several years, the lantana plants in my backyard in Dallas grew and bloomed all Summer and Fall until the first real cold snap. I've loved having a native plant that didn't need constant care a...
view the full question and answer

Dying branches on Texas Mountain Laurel from Kempner TX
September 14, 2012 - The branches on my Texas Mountain Laurel are very dry and brittle. The leaves are also starting to die. The tree has been in my yard for six years and prior to that it sat wrapped in burlap for ov...
view the full question and answer

Why are large numbers of leaves falling from my Live Oak trees in Driftwood, TX?
June 24, 2015 - Today is June 6, 2015 and I have noticed that for the last week and a half, only a few live oaks out of many, have been losing large numbers of green leaves and turning brown on the ground. I cannot ...
view the full question and answer

Trimming of Escarpment Oak from Austin
May 18, 2014 - We have a 2-year-old quercus fusiformis in our front yard and have been advised by some people that we need to remove the bottom branches and trim the ends of the branches that are hanging far down. ...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP | STAFF
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center