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How to Curtail Whiteflies From Dining on Your Tab

May 27, 2000|JULIE BAWDEN DAVIS

Hibiscus have a reputation for being whitefly magnets, and unfortunately, "hotbiscus" also succumb to these pests. The good news is that there seems to be a permanent solution to whiteflies on all hibiscus.

George Hahn, who owns California Vermiculture and produces Wormgold worm castings, says studies over a six-year period show plants mulched with worm castings are undesirable to a variety of pests, including whiteflies.

The worm castings, he says, lead to a high level of the enzyme chitinase in the plants, which pests such as whiteflies find repellent. The pests then move on.

Convinced that nothing could help a whitefly-infested hibiscus in my garden that had been struggling for two years, I spread a one-inch layer of worm castings around the plant. A month later I noticed that the whitefly population had dwindled. Three weeks later there were absolutely no whiteflies on the plant. It's now back to its healthy self and producing lots of blooms.

Besides preventing whitefly infestations, worm castings are an organic source of essential nutrients, which improve plant growth.

Wormgold worm castings are available in retail nurseries throughout Southern California. For information regarding a nursery in your area that carries Wormgold, call (760) 942-6086, or visit the Web site at http://www.wormgold.com

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