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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.

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

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Wednesday - August 10, 2011

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Diseases and Disorders, Pests
Title: Hibiscus plants being attacked by powdery mildew, or maybe mealy bugs in Austin, TX.
Answered by: Jimmy Mills

QUESTION:

I have three hibiscus plants planted outside about a foot apart from each other. The one that gets most of the sunlight is the worse off of the three. However, all three of them have white powdery stuff on them that is killing them slowly. I have researched on the internet what this might be but nothing looks the similar to what mine has. They almost look like white pill bugs. When I touch the plant they usually fall off. I have also found some on my house around the plants. Please help. How can I get rid of this stuff and save my plants?

ANSWER:

When Mr. Smarty Plants hears about white powdery stuff on plants he thinks of powdery mildew, but since you mentioned the white bugs, he thinks its probably mealy bugs.

I’m going to provide you with several links that describe the pests, and tell how to control them.

Mealy Bugs
  Tropical Plants Library on Line - describes  several insect pests and means to control them.

  ehow.com Home - tells how to get rid of mealy bugs

  University of Florida IFAS Extension - more information about scale insects and mealy bugs

Powdery Mildew
  University of Ohio -good description with photos

  University of California -good description of the problem with solutions

 

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