Hibiscus Leaves Turning Yellow

If you’ve had some experience with growing hibiscus, then you likely already know that hibiscus leaves turning yellow are a common sight.
The appearance of yellow leaves on hibiscus may be nothing to worry about and the issue could resolve itself with no action required. Yellow hibiscus leaves may, however, be indicative of a nutrient deficiency, watering issues, pests, temperature or other factors that can easily be addressed to ensure that your hibiscus plants stay healthy and regain their color.

Too much or too little light can lead to yellow leaves on hibiscus

close-up of red hibiscus with unhealthy pale green-yellow foliage
An overabundance of sunlight can be the reason for yellow leaves on a hibiscus plant. Too much sun can cause the leaves to turn yellow and to develop white spots. If this occurs, remove the damaged leaves and move your hibiscus to an area with less sun exposure. If it isn’t in a pot and must be transplanted to be relocated, you’ll find helpful information about how to transplant your hibiscus here.
A lack of sunlight can also lead to yellow leaves on hibiscus. After the leaves turn yellow, they will begin to drop off. The solution is the same – move your hibiscus. Remove the remaining damaged leaves and move your plant to an area where it will get more sun.
Some yellow leaves may result from the stress of the plant being transplanted or relocated, but this should resolve itself.

Yellow hibiscus leaves can be a sign of nutrient deficiencies

yellow hibiscus plant with leaves that are pale yellow due to nutrient deficiency
Yellow hibiscus leaves that remain on the plant rather than falling off could show a lack of necessary nutrients. Applying fertilizer or amending the soil will resolve this problem, but take care not to over-fertilize as you may do more harm than good.

Improper watering or poor drainage can turn hibiscus leaves yellow

woman watering a potted yellow hibiscus plant with a watering can
Watering too much or too little can turn your hibiscus leaves yellow. Hibiscus plants do need a lot of water to do well, particularly when it’s hot or windy, but overwatering can damage them. As a rule, you should water your hibiscus enough to keep the soil damp, but not enough to make it soggy.
Also, make sure that your hibiscus container has adequate drainage. Self-watering pots are an option to consider, especially if your plant maintenance time is limited or if you travel frequently.
As discussed later in this article, you’ll need to dramatically reduce the amount of watering in the winter while your hibiscus is dormant.

Hibiscus leaves turning yellow may indicate a pest problem

tip of a hibiscus plant infested with mealybugs
Hibiscus leaves turning yellow may be indicative of a problem with spider mites or other pests, especially if you also see unnatural markings on the underside of the yellow leaves. Apply a pesticide or spray on some soapy water to rid the plant of its attackers, but be careful not to use too much pesticide as this can lead to even more leaf yellowing.

Temperature issues can also result in yellow leaves on hibiscus

potted hibiscus plant indoors on a table near a window
Too much heat or cold can cause yellow leaves on hibiscus. If it’s too hot, your plant could suffer from heat stress. You’ll need to increase watering to prevent this. When temperatures start to cool, make sure your hibiscus is not located in a drafty or windy area. Bring your hibiscus indoors if a freeze is expected.

Yellow hibiscus leaves can be a sign that the plant is becoming dormant

close-up of yellow leaves on a hibiscus plant
Yellow hibiscus leaves may simply be a sign that your plant is going into a dormant state for the winter. This occurs with both hardy and tropical hibiscus varieties. Generally, you’ll need to reduce watering to help the plant achieve dormancy.

If your hibiscus is potted, once your plant goes dormant, move it indoors and place it somewhere that’s cool and dark. Cut back on watering during dormancy, watering only enough to keep the soil from becoming completely dry. Continue this through the coldest two or three months of winter. Then cut it back if needed, move it to a warm sunny area indoors, give it a bit of fertilizer and resume regular watering.
close-up of two gorgeous orange hibiscus blooms
Hibiscus plants are popular ornamentals and can add a bit of the tropics to your home or landscape. They aren’t difficult to grow or care for, but you’ll be more successful if you can recognize when your hibiscus is in distress. To learn more about this beautiful flowering plant and how to grow hibiscus in pots, check out our article.
potted pink hibiscus by a window with lacy curtains filtering the sunlight

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *