At the end of my rope!

mannye(z10 Miami Beach)September 9, 2006

Sorry about the long post!

I live in Miami Beach, and I have been trying to keep a decent looking backyard for almost a decade now, and I'm at the point where all I want to do is rip everything out.

My hibiscus hedge has never looked right, whatever is making the buds fall off is resistant (or at lest seems to be) to anything I throw at it. I started all nice with ladybugs and nematodes(sp?) trying not to resort to pesticides. When that didn't work, I moved to the "safe" soap and oils and those seems to be working, but if I let up for just a week, they would start falling again.

Then I got fed up and bought the strongest, most environmentally unfriendly chemical pesticide I could find (available to consuners) and yay...that seemed to do the trick...except that after two weeks, they were back again and the hibiscus were looking like crap again.

Honestly, if it takes me putting on a haz-mat suit once every two weeks and spending the better part of a day spraying down the backyard in 90 degree heat and 98% humidity and then worrying about my kids playing back there for three days in order to have a decent looking hibiscus hedge, then I'm not willing to have a hibiscus hedge and I'll just rip it up and replace with something else...

I have tried to follow the instructions on all the products to a "t" and I've bought all the applicators, wands, etc out there.

Is there anything I can do that mabe I haven't tried that will make keeping my hibiscus hedge looking decent? Should I cut it way back and let it grow again?

Just for clarification...this is a 7 foot tall hedge about 50 feet long.

My lawn service, which I just fired, pruned the hedge all wrong (upside-down triangle) so now on top of the pest problem I have no leaves on the bottoms of the hedge and I probably need to prune everything back now anyway (myself...because if you don't do it yourself...)

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I had a nice hibiscus hedge at my other house. I never had a problem with bugs, thankfully.
But I did prune back my bushes pretty hard at least once a year and it always came back beautiful with lots of blooms.

Good call on the lawn service. Upside down triangles!?!

Good luck with the bugs. I wish I had better advice for you.

    Bookmark   September 9, 2006 at 3:42PM
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hey mannye, what kind of bugs did you see on them? whether your problems are fungus or bugs, it sounds like getting good air flow and sun light to the inner parts, and cutting away some of the diseased areas might actually help. I know your frustration about anyone else doing your yard....the plant you prize the most is always the one they wreck. can you provide any photos of the problem?


    Bookmark   September 9, 2006 at 4:53PM
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Your bud drop is caused by gall midge. However, a change in fertilization or watering will also cause buds to drop. Chances are, if you are spraying with soap and oils and it's only working for about a week, it's gall midge. Remove any flower buds that have dropped from ground, as the midge is pupating in it as it decays.

Yes, prune your hedge back to a comfortable height now. Don't be alarmed that the remaining leaves (those that used to be shaded by the upper branches) will sunburn and yellow.

Use a ground systemic (Bayer Advanced or Triazicide) on the hedge row, so as new leaves unfold, they are filled with the chemicals. This will prevent aphids and white fly infestations as it refoliates, and within 2 months or so, the first flower buds should be with chemical still. Usually u have to reapply a systemic once every 6-8 weeks in our spring and summer, and every 8-10 weeks during the winter.

    Bookmark   September 9, 2006 at 10:30PM
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mannye(z10 Miami Beach)

Thanks for the help! I've spoken with the new guy who noticed the poor trimming right away (First one!) and that also recommended pruning them back hard... they grow like weeds, so I'm not worried abbout that.

I noticed small, black insects in the flowers kind of shaped like a "joint" lol sort of sharp at both ends, and I'm assuming they are the problem of the falling buds...I feel confident I'll be in much better shape (literally) by the end of winter... ready for next year's growing season.

    Bookmark   September 11, 2006 at 12:42AM
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ACutally, your hibiscus will come alive in October and November--kinda our second spring. With flowers by mid November if you prune back hard to 24" or so.

I"m also not confident those black bugs are the culprit--if they are destorying the buds, they wouln't be bothered frolicking around on open flowers. THey'd be sucking stems and buds continuing their feeding cycle.

    Bookmark   September 12, 2006 at 11:22PM
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mannye(z10 Miami Beach)

Just remembered this post and that I hadn't followed up since the new gardener started. He tried for about two years to bring it back and had some success! For a while anyway. After another 18 months of trying, I just ripped it up and had it replaced with podocarpus (did I spell that correctly?) which is doing very well. I miss the color, but I don't miss the work!

Same thing with tomatoes. It seems that if I miss just ONE day with the soapy water, half the plants are eaten by huge hungry caterpillars! lol But that got a lot easier since I built a screened in growing room!

    Bookmark   July 25, 2010 at 10:17AM
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sharbear50(6a Bella Vista)

Mannye, I am having the same problems with my hibiscus. I spray and spray and nothing is working. I am going to prune them hard once it cools down and spray the crap out of them. I am hoping that once I thin them out that will help. I have seen mealy bugs on them and also suspect thrips. A soil drench after thinning them out along with spraying like crazy will hopefully work. Good luck.

    Bookmark   September 21, 2010 at 3:17PM
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I also have a hibiscus hedge about 75ft long and 8ft high that is looking like crap. It is between 10-12years old. I think it is on its way out. I plan to remove it and replace it with some pittosporum.

Here is a link that might be useful: my rustic bajan garden

    Bookmark   October 9, 2010 at 7:24PM
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mannye(z10 Miami Beach)

HI everyone! I would like to give a thanks to everyone that offered up advice so long ago. The new Podocarpus hedge has had two years to settle in and is looking lush and beautiful.

I guess Miami Beach isn't the place for hibiscus unless you are retired or wealthy enough to spend the time (daily) caring for it.

    Bookmark   October 19, 2012 at 10:32AM
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