How to Revive a Dying Hibiscus

How to Revive a Dying Hibiscus

Hibiscus are tropical plants that prefer constant warmth, moist soil, and full sun. away from wind and draughts and with increased humidity.

A hibiscus will typically perish because to dry soil, low humidity, or high airflow, which deprives the leaves of moisture, leading them to become yellow, drop off, and cause the hibiscus to die back. Another frequent reason of dying Hibiscus is a sudden dip in temperature and frost.

Hibiscus has evolved to thrive in a particular environment and is quite sensitive to environmental change.

Most frequently, stress causes the leaves to yellow and drop off, signaling that the plant may die if the situation is not changed.

However, occasionally, some leaf loss or leaf yellowing is merely a transitory reaction, and the hibiscus revives after it adapts to the environment or when its environmental conditions improve.

Reference chart for hibiscus deaths due to the most typical causes:

Causes of Hibiscus Yellowing and Losing LeavesReasons for Yellow Leaves and Falling Leaves
reduced humidityThe majority of hibiscus species are tropical plants that need humidity to keep their leaves from falling.
Difference in airflow:Dropping yellow hibiscus leaves can be brought on by heat from radiators and air conditioning, cold air bursts in windy locations outside, or both.
Conditions that change when the seasons change:Hibiscus can turn yellow as an indication of stress because they are sensitive to environmental changes.
Too-dry soilHibiscus need soil that is consistently moist since dry soil causes the leaves to wilt, turn yellow, and fall off.
Saturated soil:The lack of oxygen in saturated soil stops roots from absorbing nutrients and moisture.
Cold Conditions:Hibiscus rosa-sinensis, a tropical hibiscus, is not hardy and perishes in freezing temperatures. Hibiscus prefers a temperature range of 65 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit during the day and a minimum of 59 degrees at night.
Not Enough Nutrients:Due to poor soil fertility, hibiscus grown in pots may run out of nutrients and become yellow.
High phosphorus levels in the soilHibiscus are especially susceptible to excessive levels of phosphorus in the soil because it hinders roots from absorbing other nutrients, which results in yellowing of the leaves and plant death.
Insufficient sunlightTropical plants like hibiscus demand five hours or more of sun every day, flower best in direct sunlight, and frequently perish in excessive shade.

Read on to find out why and how to save your dying hibiscus.

Low Humidity and Airflow– Hibiscus Losing leaves or Turning Yellow

Hibiscus are tropical plants that can thrive in more stable environments with higher humidity levels.

Hibiscus frequently loses leaves as a response to low humidity or excessive wind, which dries out the leaves. Hibiscus has a survival mechanism called leaf yellowing and drop-off to save itself from losing too much moisture and succumbing to drought stress.

Low humidity levels brought on by dry weather or windy conditions contrast with the tropical climates where hibiscus grows.

When tropical hibiscus plants are brought indoors for protection during the Winter, the issue of leaf loss due to low humidity is particularly prevalent.

The hibiscus sheds its leaves in protest because the humidity in our homes and barns is typically much lower than outdoors.

Additionally, hibiscus should not be placed in any windy sections of the garden or, if grown indoors, near anything that could produce a draft, such as an air conditioner or a heat source that could induce convection currents inside the home.

(Read my post Why is my hibiscus not blossoming for solutions; low humidity is one of the causes of bud drop and can prevent the hibiscus from displaying or developing flowers at all.)

How to Revive Hibiscus with Leaves Turning Yellow and Dropping due to Low Humidity

  • When indoors, spray your hibiscus with a mist sprayer. Every day or so, misting your hibiscus plant will help produce a humid microclimate that resembles the humidity of its natural habitat. The hibiscus may be able to keep more of its leaves because the mist on the foliage mitigates the effects of draughts and low humidity, sapping moisture away.
  • Hibiscus should be kept in a protected area. The location of hibiscus must be free from persistent wind and draughts. Your hibiscus should ideally be in a pot so that you may move it to a wind-protected spot in your garden or indoors where it is out of the way of radiators and air conditioning current.
  • Make sure the potting soil is always moist. As often as necessary, water your hibiscus to keep the soil moist (but not saturated). The plant is less likely to experience the drying effects of wind, low humidity, or high airflow if the roots have a consistent source of hydration.

The hibiscus should no longer experience the stress of losing moisture from the leaves or abrupt temperature fluctuations brought on by air currents by replicating the more humid and protected circumstances.

This might help the hibiscus keep more leaves, but since hibiscus are so sensitive to environmental changes, the leaves might still fall off.

If you continue to give your hibiscus the finest care possible and water it regularly, it should recover and grow new leaves in the spring.

Hibiscus Leaves Wilting, Turning Yellow and Dropping Due to Dry Soil

Tropical plants like hibiscus have evolved to survive in constantly damp, yet well-draining, and rich-in-organic-matter soils.

Hibiscus leaves become yellow and wilt as an indication of stress if the soil around the roots dries out.

The hibiscus is losing more moisture from its leaves through transpiration than it can absorb from its roots, as seen by the appearance of wilting.

The hibiscus leaves become yellow and eventually fall off during periods of extreme drought as a survival mechanism to prevent the plant from losing any more moisture and perishing. This water deficit is unsustainable.

Your hibiscus could be dying from drought stress for a number of reasons:

  • Watering the hibiscus too lightly or seldom prevents the roots from receiving enough water.
  • The pot is too small and dries up under the sun far too quickly. Smaller pots can hold less soil and moisture as a result, and in direct sunlight, they dry out too rapidly.
  • Not enough moisture is retained by the soil. Sandy soils are easy to drain and do not retain rainwater. Hibiscus thrives in soils rich in organic matter that hold onto moisture while still having adequate drainage so that the roots are not submerged in water-logged ground.

How to Revive a Wilting, Dying Hibiscus

It is crucial to keep the plant well-watered and to correct any conditions that are causing the hibiscus to dry out too rapidly. If your hibiscus is left in dry soil for an extended period of time, it may succumb to drought stress and perish.

  • As often as necessary, water your hibiscus to keep the soil constantly moist. Your climate and the particulars of your plant’s habitat will influence how frequently you need water your hibiscus. Check the soil around your plant to see if it is moist, and if the top inch seems like it might be starting to dry out, give it a good soak.
  • Never give your hibiscus a light watering; always give it a good soak. Only the top inch or two of the soil becomes soaked when you water your hibiscus too lightly, and the water does not penetrate deeply enough to reach the roots. The hibiscus’ vulnerability to drought is increased as a result of the roots being forced to grow closer to the surface in an effort to reach any moisture that may be there. A generous soak in water encourages healthy root growth and prevents wilting leaves.
  • Always place hibiscus in a container with a depth that is proportionate to its width, which should be at least 12 inches. Smaller or shallower pots have less soil in them, which means they retain less moisture and dry out much faster. To ensure that the roots can get enough moisture to keep the leaves from wilting, turning yellow, and dropping off, the hibiscus pot should be at least 12 inches in diameter (or proportionally as big as the plant).
  • Always grow hibiscus on soil that has been heavily treated with organic matter. In order to guarantee that the soil has the proper moisture balance to prevent hibiscus wilting, the planting area should be prepared with compost, leaf mold, or well-rotted manure if you’re planting a hibiscus in garden soil.
  • Give your hibiscus an a thorough watering, and then add a 2 inch layer of mulch (made of compost, leaf mold, or well-rotted manure) to the soil surrounding your hibiscus. This helps to retain the soil’s moisture and preserve the ideal conditions for hibiscus to thrive.
  • Hibiscus should be planted in high-quality compost or potting soil that keeps moisture. Compost mimics the soil characteristics of the hibiscus’ natural environment by retaining moisture while having a porous, areaeted structure that allows for efficient drainage.
  • Spray some mist on the hibiscus to make it more humid. Wilting basically happens when the leaves start to lose moisture faster than the roots can take it in. If the humidity is low or there is a lot of air movement sapping moisture from the leaves, spraying the leaves frequently can help produce a humid microclimate that keeps the leaves from losing too much moisture.

The hibiscus will have the best chance of recovering if you’ve set a regular watering plan, ensured that the soil is consistently moist, and addressed any environmental issues that might be causing the soil to dry out too rapidly.

While recovery takes a while, if conditions are favorable, new leaves should appear in the spring or summer.

Lack of Nutrients Causes Hibiscus Leaves to Turn Yellow

Because they are somewhat heavy feeders, hibiscus need soil that is rich in nutrients to grow. The leaves become yellow as an indication of stress if they are grown in poor, sandy soil that is deficient in nutrients (often nitrogen). Poor soil typically stunts hibiscus growth and results in fewer blossoms.

It is more typical to associate hibiscus in pots with yellow leaves caused by nutritional deficiency.

The roots of the hibiscus can deplete the potting soil of nutrients if it has been in the same pot for a long period, which can make the leaves yellow.

However, hibiscus plants in sandy garden soil, which does not store as many nutrients, can still develop yellow leaves. Fortunately, the solution to this issue is not too difficult.

How to Revive Yellow Hibiscus Leaves due to Poor Soil

How to Revive Yellow Hibiscus Leaves due to Poor Soil

The hibiscus should recover from a yellowish appearance with new green leaves with adjusted soil and fertilizer applications.

However, I would stress that it’s crucial to avoid using more fertilizer than the manufacturers advise because doing so can result in drooping growth, which is more susceptible to fungal disease.

Cold Weather Causes Dying Hibiscus

Tropical plants like hibiscus cannot withstand cold temperatures, frost, or sharp temperature swings. Hibiscus needs a temperature of 59°F (12°C) or higher at night. The hibiscus can lose all of its leaves and eventually die if the temperature drops much below 59oF for an extended period of time.

It should be mentioned that the two hibiscus species that are frequently offered in garden centers are:

  • Hawaiian hibiscus (Hibiscus rosa-sinensis).
  • hibiscus spp. that is hardy.

In most climates, the tropical variety should be planted in a container and taken indoors throughout the winter because even a little period of cold weather can cause the leaves to turn yellow and drop off. This is because the tropical species is considerably more sensitive to cold.

In order to prevent yellow leaves, it is crucial to plant hibiscus that are suited to your climate.

Tropical hibiscus are susceptible to severe cold shock, which causes them to lose their yellow leaves, but they can recover if the temperature stays mild (above 59°F) or if the plant is brought indoors for protection. New leaves will then appear in the Spring and Summer.

If grown outdoors year-round outside of tropical climes, tropical species of hibiscus struggle to survive.

Hardy hibiscus varieties should be cultivated in locations with full sun yet can withstand frost.

If you are worried about cold weather, always shop for hibiscus carefully at the garden center. Hardy hibiscus cultivars are more sturdy and flower for longer than tropical ones.

However, it should be noted that even hardy hibiscus plants can lose their leaves in response to a sudden change in temperature. If you follow the best hibiscus care practices, however, the plant can recover and new leaves will appear the following Spring or after the plant has had time to adapt to the new environment.

Root Rot and Fungal Disease

Being a tropical plant that needs consistently wet soil, hibiscus normally wilts and dies when it is submerged in water. However, excessive moisture around the roots can also result in yellowing, drooping leaves that have a dying appearance.

Hibiscus needs soil that is both moist and well drained. The hibiscus’s roots cannot transmit nutrients and moisture to the leaves if the soil is too wet, which encourages the growth of fungi and causes the leaves to become yellow, drop off, and die back.

This emphasizes how critical it is to maintain the proper balance of soil moisture for hibiscus.

Your hibiscus’ roots may experience too much soil saturation because:

  1. With too much water accumulating around the roots, slow-draining soils like clay, compacted soils, or swampy regions of the garden can hinder roots from breathing and encourage root rot, which results in yellow leaves.
  2. Overwatering. The soil should be evenly damp rather than soggy for hibiscus to grow. If you water the hibiscus every day, the dirt surrounding the roots may get damp, preventing oxygen from reaching the soil, as opposed to a moist and aerated soil, which maintains the health of the hibiscus.
  3. pots without base drainage holes. Without enough drainage, water will build up around the roots of your hibiscus, turning the leaves yellow and eventually killing the plant. Pots without drainage holes, saucers and trays underneath the pots, or attractive outer pots without drainage holes in the base.

Long-term exposure to wet soil makes it very difficult to salvage hibiscus plants because either the roots have rotted or the fungal disease may have spread throughout the entire plant, making regrowth highly likely.

The hibiscus has a chance of recovering if you reduce watering and, if your plant is potted, make sure that water can drain freely from the base of the pot by either replacing the container or removing saucers or trays that are underneath.

Since preventing fungal infections is a much better strategy, always grow hibiscus in pots if your garden has naturally wet soil since they have better drainage and make sure that drainage holes are not plugged with compacted dirt, which might hinder the soil’s drainage.

Plant hibiscus in compost because it is moisture-retentive and well-draining, simulating the soil characteristics and moisture balance of hibiscus in their natural habitat.

Hibiscus should receive water to keep the soil moist but not soggy.

The simplest approach to determine whether your hibiscus needs water is to regularly check the amount of moisture in the soil by probing down one inch. Withhold watering for a few days if the soil is still wet.

Give your hibiscus a thorough watering if the soil is only moderately damp and starting to dry up.

Seasons Changing and Bringing Hibiscus Indoors Causes Yellow or Dropping Leaves

Hibiscus responds by turning its leaves yellow and dropping off as an indication of stress due to contrasting conditions because it is suited to a relatively stable tropical environment. This reaction occurs when hibiscus are grown in a home or garden in a region with more dramatic seasonal changes.

Since hibiscus are notoriously sensitive to environmental changes, they frequently lose their leaves when the seasons change, especially when the temperature drops.

This frequently occurs when you move the hibiscus indoors during the winter to avoid frost damage. The atmosphere inside your home is very different from the one outside.

This might be as a result of various:

  • the amount of sunlight (less light indoors).
  • Humidity (indoors environments are often much less humid then outdoors).
  • greater airflow (air conditioning and sources of heat can cause draughts and fluctuating temperatures, which cause leaves to drop).
  • Watering (if the hibiscus is outdoors it benefits from rainfall whereas indoors the environment and air is dryer and the demand for water can increase, so you have to water more often to prevent dehydration).

At various times of the year, it is normal to expect some leaf yellowing or some leaf drop, however the hibiscus can recover by sprouting new growth the next Spring or Summer.

However, if you are bringing your hibiscus indoors, it is crucial to adhere to the best maintenance techniques to prevent losing leaves and yellowing, such as:

  • To make the hibiscus’ microclimate more humid, mist it frequently.
  • Put the hibiscus in the house window that receives the most sunlight, ideally for five hours each day.
  • Hibiscus should not be near drafts, air conditioning, air currents, or heat sources.
  • As often as necessary, water the hibiscus to keep the soil moist but not saturated.

The hibiscus should come back the next spring with new growth and bloom buds if you take good care of it.

Not Enough Sunlight– Hibiscus Not Growing

In full sunlight, where it receives at least five hours of direct sunlight daily, hibiscus thrives and produces more blossoms. Your hibiscus may have poor growth, fewer flowers, and yellowed leaves as a symptom of stress if it is in complete shadow or dappled light.

Due to the decreased light levels in homes, this is usually particularly problematic for indoor hibiscus.

Low levels of sunlight result in the hibiscus having less energy to produce flowers, feeble growth that looks lanky, and yellowing or dropping off of the leaves.

The only option is to place your hibiscus in the home’s sunniest window to give it a chance to recover.

It may be necessary to move your hibiscus to a large pot and set it on a sunny patio area for it to recover if you planted your hibiscus in a more shady region of the garden. I advise trying to enable more light by pruning back any overhanging tree branches.

Hibiscus can drop its leaves if it is quickly moved from a shaded place to full sun, thus for potted hibiscus, it is better to gradually expose the hibiscus to increasing hours of sun over the course of two weeks. Hibiscus is quite sensitive about unexpected changes to the environment.

To acclimate your hibiscus to a higher intensity of light, this may entail transferring it to a location with some partial shade before moving it to full sun.

Read my article on how to increase hibiscus flowers for further advice on blossoming.

High Levels of Phosphorous in the Soil Causes Yellow Leaves

High Levels of Phosphorous in the Soil Causes Yellow Leaves

Phosphorus buildup in the soil has the potential to render other nutrients, such as iron, insoluble and inhibit hibiscus roots from absorbing iron.

Excessive phosphorus in the soil causes the leaves to turn yellow, which prevents the hibiscus from blossoming and gives the plant a wilting, dead appearance.

Phosphorus buildup in the soil is typically the result of overzealous fertilizer treatments, especially any fertilizer that contains an excessive quantity of phosphorus and is sometimes advertised as “bloom boosters” to promote flowering.

If you think phosphorus is the reason your hibiscus’ leaves are going yellow, reduce the amount of fertilizer you apply, and make sure you water it frequently.

Regular watering of your hibiscus can aid in the dissolution of slats that have built up as a result of fertilizer overuse.

Sending a sample of your soil off for testing will allow you to determine for sure whether phosphorus is the issue. Reputable garden centers and nurseries offer this service.

If you are using a high-quality, well-balanced fertilizer, such as miracle-gro all-purpose granular fertilizer, it is difficult to have a buildup of phosphorous in the soil because the granules release nutrients gradually into the soil and the product has the right amount of nutrients at the right concentration for plants like hibiscus to bloom.

The hibiscus can be revived with fertilizers with a lower phosphorus concentration that are available from garden retailers and online, but consistent watering is necessary.

Because hibiscus are sensitive to phosphorus, it can take a while to bring them back to life. However, with patience and careful label reading, you can avoid fertilizers with high phosphorous concentrations, which should be disclosed on the product.

Key Takeaways:

  • The most frequent cause of dying hibiscus plants is drought stress. High humidity and moist soil are preferred by hibiscus. Hibiscus leaves become yellow and fall off if the soil dries up, the humidity is too low, or it’s too windy because the leaves are losing more moisture than the roots can take in.
  • Hibiscus leaves wilt and become yellow due to either too much moisture from underwatering or too little moisture from overwatering around the roots. Hibiscus need soil that drains properly while remaining continuously moist. Dry soil results in withering, yellowing leaves, while soggy soil produces root rot, which eventually kills the hibiscus.
  • Hibiscus needs direct sunlight. The hibiscus may stop growing, have yellowing leaves, and not produce any flowers if it receives too much shade. Always set hibiscus in a location with at least five hours of direct sunlight to encourage growth, flowering, and prevent yellowing of the leaves.
  • Hibiscus leaves can become dried out and turn yellow and fall off if there is too much wind or airflow. Hibiscus needs a lot of humidity and should be protected from wind and drafts. To mimic the humidity of the hibiscus’ native tropical environment, spray the leaves frequently.
  • Make sure the soil is moist but not saturated to resuscitate a dying hibiscus, spritz the leaves to boost humidity, and give your hibiscus at least five hours of direct sunlight each day. New growth and the plant’s recovery should occur in the spring after you have modified the environment to suit the hibiscus.
  • Hibiscus should be grown in pots with drainage holes and on soil that drains properly. Hibiscus needs soil that is both moist and well drained. 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Will a dead hibiscus come back?

This shrubby plant can withstand the odd frost, but its stems and leaves could slightly wither. As long as the roots don’t freeze, though, you can cut the dead areas away and new growth will develop in spring.

How do you treat a sick hibiscus?

Clear away broken branches, then use alcohol or waterless hand cleaner to cure the cut ends. Use effective irrigation techniques to keep the soil moist but never soggy. Once or twice a month during the dry months, thoroughly wash your hibiscus by hosing or spraying them with water.

How do you bring back a dead hibiscus?

Make sure the soil is moist but not saturated to resuscitate a dying hibiscus, spritz the leaves to boost humidity, and give your hibiscus at least five hours of direct sunlight each day. New growth and the plant’s recovery should occur in the spring after you have modified the environment to suit the hibiscus.

How do I know if my hibiscus is dying?

You can see the second layer of bark by using your fingernail to only scratch the top layer of the bark. The branch is dead if the second layer is brown and dry rather than green and moist. The entire plant is probably dead if you scratch the bark at the base of the hibiscus and see brown underneath.

What does a dying hibiscus look like?

Hibiscus leaves wilt and become yellow due to either too much moisture from underwatering or too little moisture from overwatering around the roots. Hibiscus need soil that drains properly while remaining continuously moist. Dry soil results in withering, yellowing leaves, while soggy soil produces root rot, which eventually kills the hibiscus.