Hibiscus tree wilting???

ebysobnMarch 8, 2009

We have a tropical hibiscus tree that is about 3 or 4 years old. It is in a good size pot, maybe 18 inch diameter. We have kept it indoors for the past year. All of a sudden, about a week ago, all of the leaves starting wilting. It has been getting slowly, but progressively worse. It has not lost any leaves (or at least not any more than normal) and the leaves aren't yellowing at all.

We water the plant about once a week, enough to moisten the whole pot, but not so much as to have any standing water in the saucer. We put one of the plastic mulch rings around the the tree about 4 months ago due to our now 1 year old's fascination with the dirt.

I lifted this mulch ring up and noticed a few small patches of a yellowish mold onthe top of the soil. As of today (Sunday, March 8) this has been going on about a week but the leaves are not yellowing or dropping yet. They are severely wilted though.

IS this plant a goner or can it be saved? Would the mold be causing the leaf wilt and what could we have done to prevent this mold?

Thanls, Ben

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brianmkerr(S/CoastQLD Aust)

Hi Ben, Tropical hibiscus love sunlight and need it to stay healthy, bloom and keep on growing. They can survive inside for short periods, but for many reasons, cannot survive easily inside.

A root or collar rot fungal infection is most likely the problem. It is nearly always present in soils and most potting mixes and is kept at bay by a healthy plant grown in its required conditions, specifically minimal water to match plant needs. It sounds as if your mulch has done its job ie keep moisture in, and fungus has then had ongoing moisture to get a hold of the plant's wet rotting roots.

You may be able to save it by putting out in dappled light, out of rain, remove mulch, let it dry out a bit, cut back some foliage, say a quarter and treat with a fungal chemical. As health and plant improves, hopefully, give it morning sun and so on til full sun til midday. Feed it with some good quality compost water and if it has reached this stage, it should keep growing.
Re-potting is an option if above process is not able to save plant.
Good luck, Brian.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2009 at 6:35PM
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Water with a couple of tablespoons of chlorine washing bleach to a gallon of water and then let it almost completely dry. If it is sitting in a drain saucer, remove it. They don't like wet roots. The next time you water, fertilize (liquid) it, add Superthrive and let it almost dry out again. Lots of light and warmth will help it revive.

    Bookmark   March 12, 2009 at 7:49PM
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