Please help my hisbiscus!

newgen(9 Central California)March 3, 2009

I planted a row of them on a slope, they've been doing fine for over a year now. Then the last couple months, they started dying. I can't insert photos within this post, so I'll post the links to the photos below. Among the photos, you'll see a pix of when they were healthy (green leaves and giving me pretty flowers), other photos will show branches with no leaves, looking emaciated. Another pix shows the root system after I pulled the plant from the ground. Couple other photos show the inside of the branches, it's still green inside. The soil is still moist, so I don't think they died from being too dry. Any input as to why this happened is very much appreciated. I'm about to give up on hibiscus and select another variety to occupy the top of my slope. I'm in central California, where it's very hot in the summer and very cold in the winter, nothing that hibiscus can't handle. So I'm puzzled this happened. Also, there are some weeds/grasses around the plants, can they be sucking nutrients away from the hibiscus plants? Thank you!

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brianmkerr(S/CoastQLD Aust)

Hi newgen, As per another post which may be same problem as yours, your plant probably has Phytophera, a fungal disease of which their is no easy cure, if any. Some chemicals are available that, in certain situations, do arrest the disease and some plants recover. Natural remedies do sometimes work as well, but by sound of your description of your plant, it is too late. In your case it may be possible to drench in chemical or dose heavily with good quality, rich compost. In doing so the disease will be either killed off by chemical or the improvement in plant's health, via compost and introduction of beneficial organisms, will defeat the disease.

Only other way to more closely ID your problem is to send in photos of plant, plant leaf etc.

Regards, Brian.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2009 at 6:21PM
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newgen(9 Central California)


Thanks for the email.
I think you nailed it. I've taken 2 photos of the leaves, showing phytophera infection as well as "black dot" disease, as discussed on this website:,2029,DIY_13843_2276927,00.html

I had about 20 hisbiscus plants, and only 4 look barely alive. I'm gonna uproot them all and plant something else. Too bad.

Thanks again,

    Bookmark   March 13, 2009 at 9:13PM
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jean001(z8aPortland, OR)

The "black dot" disease discussed on that page, is, as far as I can tell, "black spot," a disease that attacks only roses.

If your plants have Phytophthora root rot, and you still have some of the failing plants left, check near the base of the stem. To do so, scrape off a bit of bark ranging from just above the soil to about two or 3 inches above.

A reddish discoloration -- cinnamon-brown some say -- indicates the root rot.

If that's the case, you need to put in only those plants which resist the root rot, caused by a fungus which survives in the soil for *many* years.

    Bookmark   March 21, 2009 at 12:27AM
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jean001(z8aPortland, OR)

It was said "Some chemicals are available that, in certain situations, do arrest the disease and some plants recover. "

No such products are available retail in the US.

    Bookmark   March 21, 2009 at 12:32AM
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