People love to grow Hibiscus plants because of their colorful flowers. But, buds falling off before blooming can be disheartening. Why does this happen? That is what we will discuss in today’s article.
Inconsistent watering, low humidity, poor lighting, and pest infestations are the primary reasons behind hibiscus dropping buds. To address the issue, improve watering habits, give the plant enough light and maintain high humidity. Also, For any major change in the environment, be gradual.
A stressed plant is more prone to pest infestations, so try not to stress the plant. This guide will give you a list of reasons for dropping buds and their solutions. Let’s get right into it without further delay.
Too much or too little water will result in bud dropping.
Overwatering or heavy rainfall can leach out the essential nutrients from the soil.
As a result, the plant will not receive the nutrients they need for blooming and thus, drop off the buds.
Hibiscus enjoys consistently moist soil.
If you don’t water the plant properly, the soil will remain dry quickly.
Due to dryness, the buds won’t develop without proper hydration and will fall off.
Watering inconsistently, too, will cause the same issue.
The soil remains moist and then dries out for a long time, then stays moist and again dry; this causes bud drop.
It would be best to improve your watering habits to keep the plant healthy in the long run.
How to improve watering habits?
Watering frequency can differ depending on various factors, the season being the primary one.
Water the plant 4-5 times per week in the spring, regularly in summer, and weekly in the winter.
The best way to improve watering habits is to water the plant when the top 1-2 inches have dried.
Whatever the time or season is, always check the soil’s moisture before watering.
Use a moisture meter to check the soil’s moisture level.
Sometimes the soil quality can affect watering.
Use soil that drains and retains in a balanced way.
If you are using a container, ensure its drainage holes.
The watering can also differ depending on the container.
Plastic or glazed pots can retain moisture, but terracottas wick away moisture faster.
So, water the plant accordingly.
Also read: How To Water Hibiscus Plant? (How Much, How Often & More)
Sudden environmental changes
When the surrounding conditions suddenly change for the hibiscus plant, it will drop the buds.
It happens when you bring a new plant home, relocate it for any reason, or they receive cold nights after a warm day.
A sudden change shocks the system for which they begin to react by dropping the buds.
How to solve it?
It is natural in certain cases.
Your plant will immediately stop dropping buds once they get settled and adjust to the new environment.
If you wish to relocate your plant in terms of light or temperature, you should be gradual and not sudden.
If you shift the plant outside for light, first, keep the plant in a partially shady area.
Then expose them to sunlight for a few hours for the first few weeks and then bring them to a shady place.
Slowly increase the timing.
If you wish to bring the plant indoors for cold temperatures, start during the fall.
Also read: Can Hibiscus Tolerate Cold Weather? (+Winter Care)
Heatwaves or overheating
Hibiscus plants are tropical plants, and they like to grow around warm temperatures.
But that doesn’t make them tolerable to extremely high temperatures and high-intensity heat waves.
An ideal temperature for hibiscus should range between 65 and 75°F.
If the temperature goes beyond 95°F, the plant will suffer from dry air and heatwaves.
Terracotta pots are porous pots.
If you use a terracotta pot for the outdoor plants, the heat waves will enter the roots through the pores of the planter and overheat the roots.
Your plant will have flower buds, but they will fall off due to the heat prematurely.
How to fix the issue?
- Increasing the watering frequency at such high temperatures can keep the plant cool.
- Fix shading net partially to guard the plant. Direct sunlight will also increase the temperature. Don’t completely shade the plant because that will block the PAR.
- If you use containers, double up your potted plant to prevent the heat from reaching the roots.
- Shower the plant weekly to cool them down.
Also read: Hibiscus Temperature Tolerance: Ideal Range+USDA Zones
A lot of things require consideration when you fertilize the hibiscus plants.
Beginners sometimes don’t understand the right fertilizer to use or the right nutrients to provide.
Incorrect application of fertilization can drop the buds before blooming.
Overuse of phosphate or bloom boosters can make the buds drop off.
Hibiscus doesn’t require high phosphorus.
It stops the plant from absorbing the other nutrients, thus causing under-fertilization and bud drop.
Especially the DAP type of fertilizers causes higher issues.
It contains 46% phosphate, and hibiscus will not enjoy so much phosphorus.
High nitrogen contents, too, will have the same problem.
Absurd nitrogen will make the plant concentrate on growing new leaves.
As a result, the buds will not get enough nutrition and fall off.
What is the right fertilizer?
- Use a fertilizer that goes average in nitrogen, low in phosphorus, and high in potassium. For instance, choose a fertilizer with an NPK value of 17-5-24.
- Check the fertilizer you have been using for so long and stop it if it contains high nitrogen or phosphorus.
- Use calcium and potassium to correct the fertilizer formulation. Add ½ teaspoon of lime and ½ teaspoon of potash sulfate around the soil and water the plant.
- You can use a product called Agromin Gold. It will give the plant all the micronutrients which the plant couldn’t use due to high phosphorus.
- Never forget to fertilize hibiscus plants, especially in the spring and summer. Reduce the frequency when fall arrives and start avoiding during winter.
Also read: What Is A Good Fertilizer For Hibiscus Plants? (Ideal Ratio+Best Pick)
Low humidity levels
Hibiscus plants are tropical and enjoy around 60-70% humidity levels.
Low humidity will dry out the soil faster and make them experience dehydration.
Besides, low humidity and dry air can also make the plant lose its moisture.
It will shrink the plant and the buds, making them drier and crispier, thus causing them to fall off.
How do I increase the humidity level?
If your plant is not having any other issues, consider checking the humidity level of the surrounding environment with a hygrometer.
It works both outside and inside.
To increase the humidity level:
- Add a layer of mulch around the plant’s base.
- Keep some water trays around the plant. As the water evaporates, it will add moisture to the surrounding environment.
- Keep some potted tropical plants close to them. It will encourage all the plants to increase each other’s humidity levels. Ensure proper air circulation. Otherwise, fungal diseases can attack them due to prolonged dampness.
- Place a pebble and water tray under the pot if you have potted plants. The pebble won’t let the plant sit on the water. The water will evaporate and add extra moisture to the plant.
- Make levels with the plant. Plant the hibiscus before some tall trees so that the water drops can fall over the hibiscus plant and increase the humidity. Besides, these tall trees won’t let the moisture escape.
- Install a misting system. You can also consider misting manually, but it won’t last long.
Also read: Do Hibiscus Like To Be Misted? (+Humidity Requirements)
Regular tilling of the soil
Many gardeners do this to aerate the soil and increase the water flow.
But, don’t do this regularly.
Tilling the soil too frequently can disturb the roots.
It will create an intervention in the process of flowering.
The buds will fail to develop properly and fall from the plant.
What to do about it?
If you want to aerate the soil, gently do it 1-2 times a week.
While tilling the soil, avoid the base of the plant.
Instead, keep a 2-3 inches distance between the plant and the place from where you want to till the soil.
Also read: What Kind Of Soil Does A Hibiscus Plant Like? (+Best Soil Mix)
Lack of sunlight
Hibiscus plants are sun-loving plants.
Without proper sunlight, the plant cannot use its energy fully to produce any blooms.
Even if they grow buds, the buds will fall off if the plant doesn’t receive the light they need.
How to improve the light conditions?
- If you have fixed shading nets in the summer, use them partly so that the plant can at least get partial sunlight.
- Make sure the plant receives daily 6 to 8 hours of sunlight. Find an ideal spot outside before you plant them permanently on the ground.
- There should not be too many tall trees around the hibiscus or very close to the hibiscus. A few trees at a proper distance are fine.
Also read: How Much Light Does A Hibiscus Plant Need? (What Kind, How Much & More)
A slightly root-bound plant encourages profuse flowering, but extreme root-bound will weaken the plant.
In such conditions, the roots get cramped.
They will exhaust the soil by feeding on the nutrients.
Now they will not get the nutrition they require for blooming.
Due to this, the plant cannot perform properly.
If there are any buds in the plant, they will fall off due to the lack of proper functioning.
It also affects the growth of the plant.
When to repot hibiscus plants?
- Repot hibiscus plants every year. Use a container 1-2 inches bigger than the old one.
- If your plant grows around any barrier or the soil becomes compact due to a lack of rejuvenation, the roots can become root-bound.
- You should rejuvenate the soil every 1-2 years and till and replace the top few inches of the soil with amendments like compost, perlite, sand, etc.
- If there are barriers, dig the plant out and plant them in a space without barriers.
Also read: Should Hibiscus Be Root Bound? (+When To Repot)
Two common pests that can make the plant drop the flower buds are thrips and gall midge.
Thrips enter the flower buds and lay eggs there.
When the thrips enter the buds, they constantly scratch the bud inside and even lay eggs.
It weakens the buds and turns them rotten and off-colored.
Eventually, the bud will fall off.
The next common bug is gall midge.
They, too, stay inside the flower buds and lay eggs there.
As the larvae feed on the buds, the buds turn yellow and weak.
Eventually, they will begin to drop.
Other bugs are aphids, scales, spider mites, and mealybugs.
Most of them are sap-sucking insects that suck out the plant’s juices and make them weak enough to hold the flower buds properly.
Eventually, the buds fall off due to feebleness.
How do I get rid of pests?
- For the sap-sucking insects, you can use Imidacloprid. Add it to the soil. When the bugs try to suck the saps, they will absorb this pesticide and die.
- You can control thrips with a liquid insecticide having permethrin and bifenthrin. For organic treatment, use liquid pyrethrum. Spray it all over the blooms and buds. Though you can apply 2 times over 2 weeks, a good soak once is enough.
- Apply a liquid systemic insecticide to penetrate the plant and reach the buds to kill the gall midges. Try an insecticide consisting of Acephate, Disyston, or Imidacloprid.
Also read: How Do I Get Rid Of Bugs On My Hibiscus? (Common Bugs+Fix)
Diseases like Botrytis Blight will turn the buds brown and eventually make them fall off.
The disease thrives mostly in humid climates, especially in the spring and fall.
The fungi attack the tender tissues of the plant, i.e., the petals and the flower buds, the wounded parts, and the aging or dying tissues.
How do I address the issue?
- Isolate the plant and remove the damaged parts
- Improve air circulation around the plant while trying to increase the humidity levels.
- Avoid unnecessary wounding.
- Water the plant carefully. Let the soil dry before watering.
- Apply some fungicide to kill the leftover spores.
Double varieties tend to drop buds in the hot weather because they take to open up their flower buds.
The double variety plant can go through all the problems discussed above and drop the buds more often than the other varieties prematurely.
So, if you are growing these varieties, consider bud drop to be their natural feature, and there is no solution to it.
Continue to care for the plant and don’t stress them with ignorance.
However, you should still check to figure out whether the plant is facing any issues or not.
Every hibiscus owner waits eagerly to watch the colorful blooms in the plant. But it breaks their heart to see the buds falling off prematurely.
If your plant is dropping buds, identify the problem, and consult the conditions discussed above to confirm which issue your plant is having. Take immediate steps to address the problem.
A stress-free plant will not get attracted by pests easily. Observe your plant daily. It will let you know whether the plant is healthy or facing any difficulties or not.
Allow them to have sufficient sunlight, water, fertilizers, and humidity. Protect them from adverse temperatures, repot and rejuvenate the soil every year. Misting the plants with Neem oil once a month can keep the plant away from pests and diseases.
Reference: Wikipedia, ASPCA, Louisiana State University Agricultural Center, American Society for Horticultural Science, Tropical Hibiscus by Texas A&M University, Sciencedirect.