How To Save A Dying Hibiscus Plant? (8 Causes+Fix)


Hibiscus plants rarely undergo issues if given the right requirements at the right time. But, if it seems like the plant is dying, it means the plant has been stressed for a long time. And if you want to know why this happens, keep reading.

Hibiscus dies due to poor watering and drainage, nutrient deficiency, light problems, low humidity, cold, and infestations.

To save a dying Hibiscus, you need to take the following measures:

  1. Move the plant to a bright sunny spot with some shade during the hottest part of the day.
  2. Inspect the plant for possible problems.
  3. Remove any damaged parts like wilting leaves and stems.
  4. Inspect the roots and repot if needed.
  5. Prepare a neem oil mix and spray the plant well to eliminate any unwanted pests.
  6. Do not prune the plant, as it can stress it even more.
  7. Do not fertilize the plant until it recovers.
  8. Water the plant only when the top 2 inches of soil gets dry.

This article will share all the possible reasons behind a dying Hibiscus plant and how to revive it from dying.

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Hibiscus dying

My Hibiscus is dying – What should I know?

Hibiscus plants are easy to manage.

They need 6-8 hours of sunlight, regular watering, well-drained soil, warm temperature, and high humidity.

But, overwatering, little sunlight, lack of nutrition, low humidity, cold, and infestations can deteriorate Hibiscus’s health.

It can even kill them if the unfavorable condition continues.

Before the plant starts dying, it will display certain signs.

When beginners spot these signs, they think their plant is dying.

But, it doesn’t die immediately.

It will die if you ignore it and don’t fix the problem in time. 

How do I know that Hibiscus is dying?

To know that the Hibiscus plant is dying, you need to be familiar with certain symptoms.

Some signs that indicate that the plant is dying are:

  • Leaves and flower buds falling off, wilting or yellowing
  • Leaves becoming spongy or dry
  • Lack of regrowth in the springtime
  • Wet soil with rotten roots
  • All the leaves are wilting

For more obvious signs of distress, scrape the bark to expose the inner layer.

If it’s brown, the plant is stressed.

Hibiscus yellow leaves

When you see these signs in your plant, it means the plant is in trouble. 

You need to identify the problem and take action as soon as possible to revive the plant.

Now, let’s learn the reasons behind a dying Hibiscus plant and how to save it.

Lack of moisture

The Hibiscus plant enjoys staying in consistently moist soil with organic matter.

When you don’t follow a proper watering routine, the soil around the roots begins to dry out.

When the roots are dry, they don’t have any moisture to pass on to the leaves and other plant parts.

The leaves won’t be able to make up for the moisture they lose during transpiration. 

Due to this lack of moisture, the plant won’t have the energy to hold the leaves.

The leaves will also become yellow, dry, and crispy, lose energy to stay hold, and fall off.

The beginner will think that the plant is dying.

Such a level of moisture deficiency happens when you don’t water the plant deeply or don’t water them for a long time.

Fast-draining soil could also be responsible because it doesn’t give the plant enough time to absorb the water.

How can I revive a dying Hibiscus from underwatering?

Hibiscus watering

When the leaves turn yellow, consider checking the leaf texture and soil. 

Yellow leaves are also a sign of overwatering.

In underwatering, the soil remains dry, and the leaves are dry and crispy.

  • Water the plant deeply to ensure the soil is moist.
  • Don’t dump a lot of water into the soil, making it soggy. 
  • To ensure water reaches the roots, continue watering until the excess drips out the drainage holes.
  • For the grounded plants, create a shallow well around the plant to base to see whether water seeps through the root ball or not.
  • To prevent this condition, always water the plant deeply. Water the plant daily in summers.

Also read: How To Water Hibiscus Plant? (How Much, How Often & More)

Overwatering and root rot

Hibiscus plants require daily watering as they like consistently moist soil. 

That’s why they are easy to overwater.

If the plant is standing over a soggy or waterlogged soil, the water will suffocate the roots.

Such roots will fail to pass on the moisture to other plant parts.

It causes yellow and spongy leaves. 

Overwatering can lead to root rot.

Due to overstaying in water, the roots will become mushy and slowly start rotting.

Without healthy roots, the plant cannot get its moisture and nutrients and die.

Overwatering and root rot can also occur if the soil doesn’t drain well.

A heavy, slow-draining soil holds moisture for a long time.

Another reason is a container without drainage holes.

Hibiscus moisture meter

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How do I save the plant from overwatering?

  • If your plant is overwatered, stop watering the plant and wait until the soil has dried.
  • Let them have proper sunlight and air circulation to help in the drying process. 
  • Always water the plant only when the top 1-2 inches of the soil has dried. Use a moisture meter if you cannot test it with your finger. Water the plant when the result is between 1 and 3.
  • If the soil is the culprit, add perlitesand, or gypsum to improve the drainage.
  • If your plant is potted, ensure drainage holes. Use terracotta if you have the habit of overwatering. Since it is porous, it will help in the draining process.

How do I save a dying Hibiscus from severe overwatering or root rot?

If your plant is severely overwatered, consider checking the roots.

They might have started rotting.

  • The mushy brown roots are the rotten ones. Remove those roots and transplant your plant to a new pot or location.
  • If many roots need pruning, you have to trim off some leaves with the damaged ones. If the leaves are more than roots, the latter won’t be able to give support to the former. 
  • If your plant is potted, use a new container and soil for repotting since the old ones got contaminated. 
  • If you are planting Hibiscus in the ground, transplant your plant to a new, dry location. 
  • For some weeks, guard your plant from the direct sunlight until recovery. Don’t fertilize the plant for a couple of weeks.

Also read: How To Save An Overwatered Hibiscus?

Lack of sunlight

Hibiscus enjoys 6-8 hours of direct sunlight.

However, some shade is good during the summers, reducing sunburn risk.

Hibiscus plants are sun-loving plants.

Without enough sunlight, the plant will not develop properly or produce flowers.

If the plant receives complete shade, it cannot use full energy at its potential.

Though the plant can grow in partial or filtered sunlight, there will be no blooms.

It needs direct sunlight for blooming. 

Under low light, the plant will face stunted growth, no blooming, and discolored and fallen leaves.

When this happens, most people think their plant is dying.

Hibiscus low light

How should I save a plant from dying due to low light?

If your plant does not have any flowers and the leaves turn yellow or fall off, re-check the location.

  • Transplant the plant to a sunny location if the current one is shady. If it is in a container, shift the container.
  • If many trees are blocking the sunlight, remove some branches to let Hibiscus have some sunlight.

Before planting outside:

  • Check the surrounding of the planting site.
  • Check the direction of sunlight.
  • Look the trees around and see which direction will not get the shade. Trim off some branches for adequate sunlight, if needed.

Also read: How Much Light Does A Hibiscus Plant Need? (What Kind, How Much & More)

Low humidity levels

Hibiscus plants are from tropical areas and like high humidity levels to thrive.

The plant will lose leaves due to low humidity or windy air.

Both these situations will exhaust the plant’s moisture level. 

Due to this moisture depletion, the plant will lose the flower buds and ultimately die from droughts. 

It happens mostly in winter.

When you bring it inside, the drafts from the vents and the low humidity make the plant lose old leaves.

It is natural, however.

But sometimes, extremely low humidity can make the plant lose the green leaves.

The plant will also lose moisture if the weather is too windy.

How do I save the dying Hibiscus from low humidity?

  • In the winters, if you have brought your Hibiscus plant indoors, mist it regularly to maintain a humid environment around the plant.
  • If your plant is outdoors and the weather is windy, increase the humidity level.

To overcome moisture exhaustion, increase humidity: 

  • Add a thick layer of compost around the plant base. 
  • Cover the plant with a frost cloth in winter.
  • Keep some water trays.
  • Group tropical plants. 
  • Create levels with your plant. 
  • For indoor plants, set up a humidifier.

Also read: Do Hibiscus Like To Be Misted? (+Humidity Requirements)

Lack of nutrients

Hibiscus plants are heavy feeders.

Without enough nutrition, it can’t develop properly and will die. 

Sandy soil causes nutrient deficiency because it lacks nutrition.

It also fails to hold the nutrients received from fertilizers because they have poor retention qualities.

Mostly the potted plants suffer from nutrient deficiency.

Very limited amounts of nutrients are present in the limited amount of soil in containers.

Besides, if the plant remains in the same soil for years, it gets depleted.

If you still don’t do anything about it, the plant will eventually begin to die.

Hibiscus fertilizer

How will I save a dying Hibiscus from lack of nutrition?

  • If your plant is in a container, repot your Hibiscus every year with new soil. It will restock the plant will new fresh nutrients present in the soil. 
  • Use a container 1-2 inches bigger than the old one. It also gives the plant space to grow more.
  • If your Hibiscus is a grounded plant, add a layer of mulch in the spring and winter. It will increase soil fertility and structure and preserve moisture.
  • Fertilize Hibiscus with liquid fertilizer (NPK 17-5-24) every 2 weeks during the growing season. Reduce the frequency in winters. 

Also read: What Is A Good Fertilizer For Hibiscus Plants? (Ideal Ratio+Best Pick)

Low temperature

Tropical Hibiscus plants are native to USDA zones 9-12.

They cannot tolerate frosty weather.

Tropical Hibiscus will endure low temperatures around 55-60°F. 

Some can tolerate 32°F, but Hibiscus should be taken indoors when the temperature drops below 50°F. 

Suppose Tropical Hibiscus remains outside at temperatures below 32°F at night for a long time.

In that case, the plant will receive freeze damage and die.

Hibiscus low temperature

How can I save a Hibiscus from dying due to cold?

  • Take Hibiscus indoors in the fall if your region receives frost and the temperature drops below 50°F.
  • Bring your plant indoors immediately if it has discolored leaves.
  • Please keep it in a warm room with a 60-75°F temperature range and let it recover. 
  • Switch on your humidifier and maintain 60-70% humidity. It is better not to keep Hibiscus in heater rooms.
  • If you don’t want your Hibiscus to face any issues in winters, grow Hardy Hibiscus varieties. They are native to zones 4-8 and can tolerate temperatures around -20°F. 
  • Add a thick layer of mulch and cover it with a frost cloth in winter. It will die back to the ground and come back in the spring.
  • Sudden temperature changes can damage even a healthy plant, but proper cultural practices help restore the plant’s good health.

Also read:

Diseases

Diseases like rust, black spots, crown or stem rot, and botrytis can deteriorate Hibiscus.

But the plant will overcome with proper treatment. 

Canker disease is a more serious disease than the others.

It occurs due to the pathogen exposed by the fungus Botryosphaeria genus and spreads through water or rains.

The disease causes cankers in the plant, killing the plant tissue in different places.

It enters the plant through the cuts or wounds. The branches will girdle and die.

Wilt disease results in wilting of all the leaves in the plant.

It is another deadly disease.

Leaf spot disease
Leaf spot disease identification

How will I save a diseased plant from dying?

Watch the plant’s condition closely to understand what is wrong.

There are high chances of canker disease if the bark looks discolored or the leaves are damaged.

  • Though fungicides control other diseases, you can’t cure canker disease with them. Remove the diseased parts of the plant. 
  • Injuries are common while repotting and pruning. Be careful while performing these two to prevent wounds.
  • Always use disinfected gardening tools. Sanitize them after use to kill the fungi transferred from the plant.
  • While treating Wilt disease, don’t remove all wilted leaves. Remove only the yellow leaves. Let the green leaves stay as they are still capable of photosynthesizing.
  • Make sure that the plant gets bright indirect sunlight. Please protect it from wind and night temperature.
  • Don’t overwater or prune the plant. 
  • Fertilize it with SuperNova Growth Enhancer with little water at a double dose. If you don’t have it, use only plain water.
  • Mist your plant to maintain hydration. Do not use any other products. 

Continue this for 2 weeks until you find new growth.

Slowly expose it to direct sunlight and start normal fertilizing.

The plant will take 2 weeks to 3 months to heal.

Also read: Why Are My Hibiscus Leaves Turning Black? (Possible Causes+Fix)

Pest infestations

Pests like aphids, mealybugs, spider mites, thrips, scales, beetles, caterpillars, etc., can also kill the plant.

Some of them will weaken and kill the plant by sucking all the sap from it, and some will kill it by skeletonizing the leaves. 

Some bugs stay inside the flower buds and lay eggs.

It causes bud drops.

Beginners get worried enough about it and consider the plant to be dying.

The sap-sucking insects also release honeydew and invite a fungus called sooty mold. 

Hibiscus bugs

How do I save your plant from a pest infestation?

  • Spray neem oil directly on the infected areas.
  • Use systemic methods to kill sap-sucking insects. Apply Imidacloprid to the soil and let the plant absorb it. When the bugs suck the sap, they will absorb this chemical and die.
  • Dab rubbing alcohol directly on the bugs to weaken and kill the hard-shelled bugs.
  • Use insecticidal soaps to coat the bugs. It will cut their oxygen and kill them. After 15-30 minutes, wash off and clean the plant.
  • Handpick the insects if they are small in number.
  • Release natural predators like ladybugs and lacewings. While using this method, avoid using general pesticides as that can remove the predators.
  • If these procedures don’t work, use pesticides as a last resort.

Also read: How Do I Get Rid Of Bugs On My Hibiscus? (Common Bugs+Fix)

What should I do if the plant is impossible to save?

If the plant is impossible to save, find some good stems to propagate and get back a new Hibiscus plant.

  • Cut a stem measuring 6-8″ below the leaf node diagonally. 
  • Leave only 2-3 leaves at the top of the stem.
  • Expose the cambium layer at the bottom by scraping around 1-2 inches at 1-2 sides. Dip the cutting into the rooting hormone and plant it in an ideal soil mix. 
  • Water the soil and place the container at a location with bright indirect sunlight, 40-50% humidity, and 72-80°F temperature. 
  • The cutting will take 1-2 weeks to develop roots and 4-8 weeks to grow new leaves. It will turn into a full-grown plant within 6-24 weeks.

Final thoughts

Knowing how to revive a dying plant is easy if you are familiar with the problems and the solutions. If you see signs of stress, identify the cause and act quickly to fix it.

Give them adequate light, water, and fertilizer. Repot every year with new soil and mulch the grounded plants in spring and winter. Protect Tropical Hibiscus plants from cold. Take quick action if the plant gets infested with bugs or fungi.


Reference: WikipediaASPCALouisiana State University Agricultural CenterAmerican Society for Horticultural ScienceTropical Hibiscus by Texas A&M UniversitySciencedirect.

Richa

Hello everyone, My name is Richa and I am here to make you a better gardener by creating an in-depth and helpful resource for all the fellow gardeners out there. If I could help even a few people understand their plants better then I call it a success for my efforts.

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