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Why Are My Hibiscus Leaves Turning Yellow? (10 Reasons + How To Fix)

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Hibiscus, also known as Hibiscus sabdariffa or roselle, is a genus of flowering plants belonging to the family Malvaceae. It is native to subtropical and tropical regions across the world.

Although the plant is surprisingly easy to grow, many newbie gardeners have wondered: “Why are my Hibiscus leaves turning yellow?”.

If you share the same concern, the article below will go through this question and reveal some desirable facts and tips to make your plant stay fresh and healthy again!

Why Are My Hibiscus Leaves Turning Yellow
Hibiscus leaves turning yellow, black spots and holes – via Reddit

Why Are My Hibiscus Leaves Turning Yellow10 Main Reasons

1. Incorrect watering

Generally, Hibiscus leaves turning yellow might signal that the plant is overwatered or underwatered. 

Although tropical Hibiscus requires an abundant amount of water, especially during excessive heat, it could experience root rot when overwatering. Besides, daily watering can lead to soggy conditions, turning the leaves to yellow and falling off as a sign of stress.

Meanwhile, inadequate watering can also affect the Hibiscus, causing the leaves to wilt and yellow.

2. Drought stress

Besides underwatering, drought stress in Hibiscus can also be caused by excessive wind. As a tropical plant, the plant would thrive in humid areas. Hence, when placed in an excessively windy location, it is susceptible to drought stress, causing the leaves to turn yellow and shrivel. 

3. Inappropriate lighting

Just as with water, lighting is associated with yellow Hibiscus leaves. While excessive sunlight can cause leaf sunburn and white spots on the tips, poor lighting conditions can result in discoloration and falling leaves.

4. Wrong temperature

When temperatures are high, especially during summer, Hibiscus cannot tolerate scorching temperatures and need additional water.

However, if the plant lacks watering, it may dry up quickly and show a sign of heat stress. As a result, the Hibiscus leaf turns yellow and eventually falls off.

On the other hand, freezing weather is not suitable for the plant either. When the cold weather arrives, the leaves may turn yellow and drop.

Why Are My Hibiscus Leaves Turning Yellow 2
Any idea why my Hibiscus leaves are turning yellow – via Reddit

5. Unsuitable soil pH

Hibiscus often thrives in slightly acidic soils, ranging from pH 6 to 7. Therefore, if the soil falls outside this range, the plant is not likely to absorb nutrients, leaving the yellow leaves with green veins (chlorosis).

6. Transplant shock

As Hibiscus is familiar with specific conditions, repotting the plant from one spot to another can turn the leaves yellow due to environmental changes. 

7. Nutrient deficiency

Yellowing leaves on Hibiscus can indicate that the plant may experience iron chlorosis caused by a deficiency of iron or magnesium in the plant’s new growth. Hence, leaves with iron chlorosis may develop a yellow color or sometimes even turn white.

8. Pest infestation

It is noteworthy that the stressed Hibiscus leaves can be prone to insect infestations. While several insects such as scale insects, mealybug, or hibiscus aphids can attack Hibiscus, the potential culprit for yellowing leaves on Hibiscus is the spider mite.

If the plant is left untreated, several problems can emerge from yellowing leaves, wilting, or fewer flowers on display.

However, avoid overusing pesticides as this may also contribute to yellow leaves.

9. Wrong location

When Hibiscus enters dormancy, it may need to be relocated indoors for a couple of months then transferred back into a sunny location.

However, moving the plant from indoors to outdoors and environmental changes may negatively impact the plant. Consequently, the plant may suffer from stress and become yellow, wilt, or stop blooming. 

10. Dormancy

The growing season of Hibiscus is spring, summer, and autumn. Hence, at the end of fall, the plant’s leaves may start to show signs of yellowing.

How To Fix Yellowing Hibiscus?

Reviving yellowing Hibiscus leaves is a hassle-free task by following regular care and maintenance.

1. Adequate watering

Giving Hibiscus a great soak per week is ideal for preventing the plant from drying out entirely and developing yellow leaves. Also, since the plant grows best in well-draining and moist soil, remember to increase the watering frequency according to the climates. 

Allow the soil to dry out before watering, so the plant does not suffer from water stress. Besides, make sure the containers offer appropriate drainage to avoid root rot and encourage the roots to grow and establish.

2. Proper nutrients and fertilizer

Hibiscus develops well in soil amended with organic matter because this provides the plant with sufficient nutrients and moisture-retaining ability.

So, apply an inch layer of compost, leaf mold, or well-rotted manure twice a year in spring or summer to boost the soil’s structure. Additionally, add half-liquid fertilizer to the plant once a month to supplement the nutrient deficiency.

But keep in mind to balance nutrients since over fertilizer can hinder the growth of flowers, while too much phosphorus can also stimulate yellowing leaves.

3. Right lighting

To ensure the establishment of Hibiscus, locate the plant in a sunny area since it requires about 6 hours of direct full sun a day to bloom. Although it can grow in partial shade, avoid low lighting conditions so it could grow to its fullest potential.

When the plant shows yellow or falling leaves due to lack of light, prune off the damaged leaves immediately. Then, allow more light to touch the plant to recover from its yellow appearance.

4. Pest elimination

Spider mites tend to be present in lower humid environments. Thus, spraying the Hibiscus leaves with mist can prevent the bugs from affecting the plant.  

For more severe infestations, consider applying insecticide spray from neem oil to get rid of harmful pests effectively.

5. Repot when needed

If the Hibiscus has been in the same pot for a long time, roots can block the drainage holes, resulting in yellow leaves.

Therefore, consider repotting the plant into a bigger pot, ideally one size up with favorable drainage holes in the base, and provide it with full sun, suitable climate, watering, and nutrients for it to thrive beautifully.


Hopefully, you’ve found the satisfying answer to the question: “Why are my Hibiscus leaves turning yellow?”.  

To prevent potential risks of yellowing leaves, remember to follow the foolproof tips above and adjust the plant care routine for a gorgeous and healthy plant year-round.