1. Q: I have several hibiscus and I'm having a problem with buds falling off prior to opening. I've placed the plants close to my hummingbird feeder and don't want to harm the birds in the process of correcting the bud problem.

A: The buds are falling off of your hibiscus because of tiny insects called thrips eating on and damaging the buds at a very young age. The thrips must be eliminated by using an insecticide. You can use one of the organic insecticides such as Organic Plus or you can use a longer-lasting insecticide such as Orthene. Spray every 7 days for 4 consecutive sprays and your buds should begin to persist and bloom. I am assuming that this plant is receiving at least 8-10 hours of direct sunlight which is required for most hibiscus to bloom profusely.

2. Q: I have 4 Hibiscus plants. Every summer it seems a certain pest attacks them by eating the leaves They only eat the flesh parts of the leafs and leave the skeleton of the leaf. I have found no visible bugs and have sprayed 2 different kinds of insecticides on the plants with no noticible results. Do you have any idea what kind of pest this may be and what kind of spray should I use?

A: My old Mama in Tennessee has the very same problem. The critters doing the damage are larvae of an insect and feed on the top of the leaf. When the first damage is noticed, use the organic worm killer named Dipel (dust) or Biological Worm Killer - Thuricide (liquid) which contain Bt (Bacillus thuriengensis). You will have to apply the product every 4 days for 3 consective applications or until the damage ceases. This very safe product is more effective than any other insecticide.

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