Gympie gardeners welcomed to the world of hibiscus
WELCOME to the Hibiscus World of Problematic Pests.
Guest speaker at the September meeting of the Gympie Horticultural Society, Ray Morsch, introduced members to the joys and pitfalls of growing these spectacular flowers.
During the flowering season the hibiscus is called the Queen of the Flowers with the bushes literally covered in blooms, thus giving your garden the Hawaiian tropical feel.
If you don't give them protection from cold prevailing winds, plenty of sunshine, daily watering in the hotter months, and fertilise lightly and more often with Nitrophoska they are more susceptible to damage by pests and diseases.
"In other words pests will always choose plants that are stressed, lacking in nutrients or grown in less than optimal conditions over healthy plants," Ray said.
There are two types of pests that love hibiscus:
1. The chewing pests - these include caterpillars, grasshoppers, heliothis grubs, and inchworms;
2. The sucking pests - these include mealybugs, erinose mites, red spider mites, two spotted mites, aphids, scale insects, whiteflies, green vegetable bugs, female cotton bugs, and harlequin bugs.
There are other miscellaneous pests and they are ants, snails, slugs, cockchafer beetles, and hibiscus beetles (these cause major havoc in destroying your beautiful flowers before they open, and they also attack other flowers in the garden).
Getting rid of ants will definitely go a long way in helping to eradicate mealybugs and aphids.
Try this method: Mix borax with some honey by putting into a small container with holes and placing this on the ant tracks.
You can identify pest damage in one of two ways: you see the insect or the damage it causes. These pests are responsible for the following:
Ants: spread aphids and mealybugs throughout the garden.
Caterpillars: cause severe damage to leaves and buds.
Aphids: cause deformity in buds and growing tips.
Mealybugs: cause damage to leaves and buds.
Snails, slugs and caterpillars: damage plants by eating new growth and leaves.
Here's a homemade remedy that hibiscus grower Chris Noble came up with. It has been very successful in controlling insects and diseases such as aphids, scale, grasshoppers, hibiscus beetle, cotton, harlequin and rutherglen bugs, caterpillars, whiteflies, ants, mealybugs, flies, midges the bacterial black spot and the fungi, grey mould (botrytis spp), and rust.
All you need: 1 part cooking vegetable oil (any brand. Canola or peanut oils may also be used) and 1 part liquid household dish washing detergent (any brand). This spray is called The Good Oil on Pest and Disease Control.
These ingredients are then placed together into a sealable bottle, shaken well until it changes to a creamy colour, labelled and kept out of reach of children and pets. When ready to spray take 10mls (2 teaspoons) of the Good Oil formula, add to 1 litre of water and mix thoroughly.
Spray when the days are overcast, definitely not on a sunny day especially in summer and never on a windy day.
GYMPIE Municipal Horticultural Society will be holding its next meeting from 2pm this Saturday in the Mystery Artistic Display beautifully created by Gwen Smithers at 60 Hilton Rd, Gympie.
Guest speaker Ashley Keune will be talking about frogs and how to attract them to your garden.
The flowering competition for October is Spring Flowering Bulbs and these can be entered either in a pot or a vase. Please write your name and place under each entry. Prizes will be awarded to the lucky winners on the day of the meeting.