Drought conditions affect Plumeria flowers

Richard Criley
Richard Criley
Jean Boyens Reis
Jean Boyens Reis

By Roger Mari - bio | email

WAIMANALO (KHNL) -- The flower is known for its fragrance, and even used as a daily accessory.

But drought conditions will leave many plumeria trees with no flowers.

Some plumeria trees in Waimanalo were believed to have been infested by papaya mealy bugs. They suck the juices out of the leaves, stunting their ability to produce flowers

"What they do when they feed on the growing points, they cause the very young leaves to become all twisted up," said Richard Criley, horticulture professor.

This year has been especially bad because of the drought conditions.

"It's hot, sunny and dry, and that's a good condition for the mealy bugs to develop," said Criley.

Some Waimanalo residents aren't accustomed to seeing what looks like dying plumerias.  Jean Boyens Reis has lived at the same house for eight years, and can see the impact the mealy bugs are doing to her trees.

"It just seems like the plumeria trees in Waimanalo just not blooming as much as they used to," said Reis. "We did build our house around that plumeria tree, it would be nice to see it not struggling."

There are ways to get rid of the mealy bugs using pesticides, but using them requires special certification and permits.  They are also pricey -- 8 ounces of one pesticide can cost up to $300.

"The sprays that control it are too expensive for the average home owner," said Criley.

For now, residence on the Windward side will have to wait until next season to enjoy the site and smell of their plumeria trees.