7 Reasons FOR Hibiscus Leaves Turning Yellow

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The Hibiscus tree belongs to a group of flowering plants in the mallow family Malvaceae.

It is local to warm temperate, subtropical, and tropical counties in California, Texas, Florida, and other tropical countries around the world.

leaves yellowing on hibiscusPin

Hibiscus leaves turning yellow is a common problem but not one you should be too concerned with. 

The color and size of hibiscus flowers and foliage vary depending on the species, but generally speaking, healthy hibiscus plants have green leaves with large, colorful flowers.

If your Hibiscus leaves turn yellow, it means your Hibiscus is trying to tell you it needs something.

Ask yourself these seven questions to determine just what the problem may be causing yellow hibiscus leaves

Related: Learn more about How to Care For a Hibiscus Tree.

#1 – Is My Hibiscus Getting Enough Nourishment?

If your Hibiscus leaves are turning yellow but not falling off, this can be a signal your plant has a nutrient deficiency, is experiencing iron chlorosis, and needs a dose of fertilizer, Epsom salts, or a soil amendment.

Applying a fertilizer specially formulated for hibiscus plants is the best way to ensure the plant gets enough nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium.

Use a hibiscus fertilizer formulated to provide to right NPK ratio and reduce potential nutrient deficiency. Consider a soil test for your Hibiscus.

#2 – Hibiscus Leaves Turning Yellow – Am I Watering Correctly?

The leaves of tropical hibiscus may begin turning yellow if the plant gets too much water or if the plant does not get enough water.  It causes white powdery patches on the underside of leaves and stems that eventually turn brown.

Remember, tropical Hibiscus needs lots of water, even more so when it is a potted Hibiscus, in a windy location, or very hot.

Nevertheless, if you water too much, plants can experience problems with root rot.

The idea is to maintain consistently moist soil around Hibiscus plants. Be careful not to keep the soil too soggy.

During your tropical plant’s dormant period, you should avoid overwatering it.

Little water is enough to keep the soil from becoming completely dry because it may lead to wilting.

Always be sure to provide good drainage.

If your plant is not planted in well-draining soil or does not have good drainage holes in its container, the ground will be soggy.

It will cause hibiscus yellow leaves and damage to root systems. However, if the cause of yellow leaves on your hibiscus is due to drought stress, this can be distinguished from over-watering if the leaves are noticeably shriveled and curling downwards, as this is an adaptation to prevent water loss. 

To ensure your plant is getting enough water, check the soil every day or two by poking your finger into the top inch or so.

The dirt should feel slightly moist, not wet.

Hibiscus plant with yellow leaves, indicating possible issues with nutrients, water, or pestsPin

When it begins to feel dry, it’s time to water. You may also wish to invest in a self-watering pot to provide consistent watering.

There are also many high-tech aids like large self-watering planters to help you keep track of your plants’ watering and fertilizing needs.

#3 – Am I Keeping My Hibiscus Plant At The Right Temperature?

Hot weather can cause yellow leaves on Hibiscus because plants need lots of water during warm, dry weather.

If your plant is too dry, you will initially notice the leaves turning yellow and falling off.

If you don’t attend to its special watering needs in the summer heat, the entire plant will dry up and may die from heat stress.

Soils that are composed of heavy clay, overly compacted, or naturally boggy tend to drain too slowly for hibiscus, which causes excess water or slow-draining soils to pool around the roots.

The hibiscus tree is also not tolerant of freezing weather. When the weather turns cold, the leaves will turn yellow and fall.

Remember, tropical Hibiscus plants are not frost-hardy, so bring outdoor plants in when a freeze is expected.

Drafts can cause yellow leaves and leaf drops. Hibiscus planted outdoors should be sheltered from the wind.

Hibiscus kept as houseplants should be protected from drafts.

#4 – Is Your Hibiscus Plant Getting The Right Amount Of Light?

Just as with water, too much or too little, only enough light can cause Hibiscus the yellowing new leaves.

Too much direct sunlight results in leaf sunburn, which manifests as white spots on the leaves or foliage.

If this happens, you should prune off the damaged yellow leaves and move your plant to a location where it can get partial shade during the hottest part of the day.

Too little light can also cause discoloration and falling leaves.

If this is the case, you’ll need to move your plant to a setting where it can get ample full sun.

#5 – Are Hibiscus Leaf Yellowing Because It Is Time For My Plant To Go Dormant?

The Hibiscus’ growing season is spring, summer, and fall.

At the end of the autumn, leaves may begin to start turning yellow and fall.

This means your plant wants to go dormant, so you should reduce the amount you are watering and allow your plant to take a rest.

#6 – Is My Hibiscus In The Right Place?

During your plant’s period of dormancy, bring it into the house and keep it in a cool and dark area for about two months.

Environmental changes may affect your hardy hibiscus.  Unless you’re experiencing severe drought in your region, you can reduce the watering frequency during the dormancy period. 

A layer of mulch at the base of an outdoor plant can help retain soil moisture.  If several plants also exhibit yellowing with green veins, then I recommend purchasing a soil gauge from Amazon or a garden center to establish the pH levels of your soil.

Toward the end of the dormancy season, cut the plant back and put it in a bright, sunny window.

Begin regular watering, and soon you’ll see new growth appear. 

When this happens, start fertilizing your Hibiscus.

In the springtime, take your plant outdoors if you wish.

Moving plants from indoors to outdoors may cause yellow leaves, cessation of blooming, and a wilted appearance.

These are all signs of stress.

To minimize this, transition your plant gradually from indoors to outdoors at the beginning of the growing season.

#7 – Are Pests Attacking My Hibiscus?

If leaves turn yellow, show sooty mold, and take on a mottled appearance with signs of injury on the undersides of the leaves, it is because of the pests insect infestation from – spider mites, scale insects, mealybug, and hibiscus aphids.

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To eradicate these pests, spray the entire plant with a solution of soapy water. If your hibiscus is planted in heavy, dense garden soil, improve the drainage by adding organic matter.

A couple of cups of plain water with a teaspoonful of Dr. Bronner’s liquid Castile soap should make short work of soft-bodied insects such as spider mites and aphids.

Spray the entire plant daily until the pests disappear.

Following this, give your plant a good rinse to remove soapy residue.

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