White Flies, Right On Schedule

Red HibiscusWhat a great day this was. Peggy and I were greeted by three bright red  hibiscus blossoms. Here it is March and we have the joy of  tropical flowers. This is another plant that has been with me for several years; four to be specific. It came into the family through Peggy’s daughter, then to Peggy, then to me. The plant had outgrown it’s quarters and I had a nice basement with an atrium to winter it.  It didn’t need a lot of attention, just some light and water once in awhile. 

Every spring, I place it on the patio in full sun and watch it grow. Within a few weeks the bush has so many leaves on it you can’t see through it like you can right now. Eventually, with a regular regimen of fertilizer it begins to bloom. It gives us blossoms all summer and fall. It is late September when I finally bring it in again. That is, not before it has been washed thoroughly and sprayed heavily with insecticidal soap. Usually, there are so many flower buds on it, that I don’t dare trim it back. Peggy would kill me if I cut one budding blossom. 

Once the plant is in the house again, the leaves begin to turn yellow and start to drop. The flowers continue to bloom. We’ve had as many as twelve blossoms at one time. Considering that they last only a day or two it is pretty remarkable to see flowers nearly every day. That is until three weeks ago. the final bud opened and that was it. The plant took a rest until today. 

Notice the Yellow Stamenleaf-with-holesThis morning, all I saw  were red blossoms. I decided to photograph the beautiful red trumpets with the bright yellow stamen. When I returned with the camera, I began to see things differently. First, I saw a perforated leave. It looked like swiss cheese. Then I saw a curled one. As I combed the leaves looking for signs of bugs, I spotted the creature. A tiny white speck darted past the side of my head. Drat! White flies. Now I have to spray again or they will take over the house.

The white fly is not unusual. They arrive on the plant every year in March.  They are right on schedule this year too. They are  a major pain in the ass. I could take a practical approach and say, “I’ve had plenty of pleasure out of you plant, and now it is time for you to go.”  That would be too easy. There is something in the genes of a gardener that keeps wanting to sustain horticultural life.

Looking into the Trumpet

As a boy, mom took me with her when she visited freinds. They had plants all around their houses.  I thought to myself, I’ll never get that old that my house will be filled with pots of flowers everywhere. Well, guess what? You got it, I have pots of flowers all around my house.

2 Responses

  1. How do you deal with the white bugs? I have them all over one of my hibiscus plants, and despite coating the thing with insecticide, they seem to be thriving.

    Thanks, Heather

    • Heather; My battle with white flies has been relentless. Sometimes I win other times they do. Here is what i do with my hibiscus before I bring it in for the winter:
      1. Hose down the plant with a simple garden hose. 2. Wash it with insecticidal soap. This is a simple mixture of dish soap and water. I put it into a spray bottle and spray each leave on both sides. this is still an outside job, because the spray gets everything soaked. I spray the stems as well as the foilage. 3. Let the plant dry off then hit it the same way with Sevin. Make sure you have the stem crotches as well as both sides of the leaves. 4. Stir up the soil the plant is in and soak it with insecticidal soap and then Sevin. The spray may have to be repeated within two weeks.
      After the plant is in for the winter, and the flies return, I take it into the basement and spray it with the insecticidal soap again.
      I have also tried an insecticidal oil. It makes the leaves shine like they were polished.

      I also have a plumeria plant that I treat the same way. Last year, after I went through this ritual, it was filled with white flies within two weeks. I cut it back to a stump and let it go to sleep for the winter. It took all summer for it to come back again and now it’s time to bring it in. We’ll see what happens.

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