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Help for a hibiscus

tabron at binah.cc.brandeis.edu tabron at binah.cc.brandeis.edu
Mon Apr 11 09:32:19 EST 1994

This doesn't look like a high-traffic group, but I hope someone out there is
listening because I need some help.

I have a hibiscus, about eight weeks in my house. In its second week it began
to show signs of tiny (less than 1 mm) light brown bugs clustering on its
flower buds.  The only other sign of insect activity is small _white_
threadlike things of about the same length that occasionally show up on the
upperside of the leaves (dead versions of the insects?) The plant is dying;
almost all of the lower leaves have developed holes, turned brown and fallen
off, but I see no evidence of leaf-eating or even of live moving insects on the

I tried treating the plant with a systemic poison (Dragon) but it has had no
effect despite repeated doses. The poison is toxic to humans as well so I don't
wish to continue using it; besides, it smells like hell and doesn't seem to
have done a damn thing about the bugs, which now cluster so thickly over the
buds that they form almost a contiguous layer.

I would just toss this plant but today, like a heroic last stand, the poor
thing actually bloomed again. The blossom is slightly paler than pre-bug
blossoms; I don't know if that's an effect of the poison, the bugs, or some
lack of water or food (I have been watering and feeding it but perhaps not
enough lately.)

Though it's lost a lot of leaves it is still forming flower buds.

Can someone help me and my poor hibiscus? I can wash the bugs off the buds but
in two days they're back just as thickly.  Is there something nontoxic I can
spray on the buds to discourage the insects? Does anyone know what these
insects _are_? (They look a little like scale but are paler and move around.)

Looking forward hopefully to a response,

Judith L. Tabron
Brandeis University

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