Althea + Ants = NO BLOOMS! Help!

pinkie_z8ala(Zone 8a NW LA)June 15, 2003

Dear Folks -
I have three Hibiscus Syriacus (Althea), and one isn't blooming. When I checked it, I found the reason. Each bud is COVERED with ants! They are feeding!! Several buds were gone already, and the rest aren't far behind. Why is this happening to only one of these shrubs? They are in different locations, but ants are everywhere right now (!), so it seems that the other two should be suffering as well. I guess that I should consider myself lucky.

Anyone have any thoughts? Or solutions?

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LisaLou(8b)

Usually ants are on plants eating aphids. Sounds like maybe one of your shrubs had an aphid infestation. The easiest way to get rid of aphids is to blast them off with the hose. You might look for them on your other shrubs.

    Bookmark   June 16, 2003 at 3:26PM
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pinkie_z8ala(Zone 8a NW LA)

LisaLou -
Yeah, I've always seen ants on Hibiscus Syriacus in the past, but this is something different. All of the ants seem to be focused on eating the flower buds. In fact, there are so many ants on the buds that the buds appear to be black. However, after seeing photos on the Roses Forum of Japanese Beetle damage, I realize that my insect problems are minor!

    Bookmark   June 17, 2003 at 8:11AM
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tortoisekeeper(6 TN)

Hi

I had the same problem. Dan Gill suggested spraying all the ants off with the hose then putting a product called tangle foot around the base. It worked for me.

Betty

    Bookmark   March 22, 2004 at 7:38PM
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Cindy_B(9 S LA)

Betty, what is tangle foot and where do you get it?

    Bookmark   March 24, 2004 at 5:41AM
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Pterostyrax(8a)

Ants do not eat aphids. They are like shepherds and protect the aphids from predators. In exchange, they lap up the honeydew secreted by the feeding aphids, and ants don't feed on flower buds. Are you sure they are ants?

Tangle foot is a very sticky substance that remains sticky for a fairly long time that you spread on around the base of the plant. Any insect that has to crawl from the ground upwards gets stuck or "tangled" up in the goo and never makes it up the plant to feed. You should be able to find some at a good garden center, or go a google search and order off the internet.

Here is a link that might be useful: ants and aphids

    Bookmark   March 24, 2004 at 8:07AM
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tortoisekeeper(6 TN)

I got mine at the local feed store

    Bookmark   March 25, 2004 at 7:44PM
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tortoisekeeper(6 TN)

They were defintily ants. They were carring mud up and making nest on the blooms. You can call The Tanglefoot Company at (616) 459-4139 8 am to 5 om eastern time.

    Bookmark   March 25, 2004 at 7:48PM
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love_the_yard(z9A Jax FL)

I have had problems with ants in the altheas, too, when there were plenty of other choices around. They seem to prefer the althea. I had a group of potted plants under the oak tree. It was the althea that was full of ants.

Carol

    Bookmark   July 13, 2004 at 11:34PM
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Adgerlady(z8 LA)

Hi Pinkie, I'm in Vivian, where are you?

    Bookmark   July 14, 2004 at 11:44PM
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nanadeb1(z9 S.LA)

I'm having the same problem, and have fought the ants for two years. I'll try the sticky stuff (if my tree is still alive)

    Bookmark   July 19, 2004 at 8:41PM
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cmsc1950(7-TN.)

HI THERE, My name is Carolyn. I live in Cleveland, TN. I have 1 large Althea tree, bush, whatever you call it, and mine isn't evered in ants, but the flowers are dropping off and the leaves are turning yellow. Is this the time for the leaves to be dropping off for the fall ? I've just become interested in the Althea. I have planted 6 other Althea trees, ( really twig size ) by my 1 larger one and they seem to be doing ok for now, anyway. Should I mulch them for the winter ? I'd appreciate any info. Thanks, Carolyn

    Bookmark   October 25, 2004 at 12:53AM
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nanaboo(z8BRLA)

I trim back my Althea each year, as I want to keep it contained, and mulch now for winter. I make cuttings each year to pass-along to friends. My son-in-law grows his Althea tall, but removes all the lower branches, as he has daylily plants growing all around the tree. The Althea blooms beautiful!

    Bookmark   November 27, 2004 at 10:05AM
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virginia34(south)

No ants, no bugs, but althea, 13 years old is rapidly dying. Watered real good because of the hot drought conditions. Any suggestions?

    Bookmark   July 3, 2005 at 8:16PM
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pinkie_z8ala(Zone 8a NW LA)

That was last year. I'm very happy to say that the same althea bloomed rather well this year! I saw some ants, but not many.

Adgerlady, I know this is late, but I want to respond. I'm in Shreveport.

I don't know why your althea is dying Virginia34, but you have my sympathy.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2005 at 11:55AM
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