Fixed my Yellow Leaves Problem!

sharonlf(z10 AZ)June 4, 2006

I have been having occasional problems with yellowing leaves on my hibiscus. I have five of them planted in a row. The two that are partly shaded don't get many yellowed leaves but the other three get several. A couple of weeks ago I read a tip on adding 1 cup of vinegar to one gallon of water to help this and other acid loving plants. You just apply it to the soil at the base of the plant. You do NOT pour it on the leaves. It actually worked...and pretty quickly! I was really happily surprised. All my hibiscus are now nice and green and the yellow leaves are gone. I just thought I'd pass the tip along in case anyone else was having that problem.

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sharon....were your plants getting tons of yellow leaves overnight and dropping them like crazy? I have had this problem for a few months now and my favorite one is down to a handful of leaves and I don't want to lose it. Also, were your plants still blooming like crazy while the leaves went yellow and dropped? I am still trying to diagnose my plants but can't figure out what is wrong. The pH is OK, they've been fertilized, and soil is kept evenly moist. They are in full sun. Nothing has changed in 2 years but the leaves are dropping like flies. Yet...both plants bloom like mad! Thanks for any help.

    Bookmark   June 10, 2006 at 9:08AM
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sharonlf(z10 AZ)

Hi Lynne,

My plants were getting tons of yellow leaves and dropping them like crazy, but it didn't all happen overnight. They continues to get blooms but the leaves were very sparse since the yellow leaves kept dropping. I have a row of five Hibiscus. All get the same amount of water and are fertilized the same amount. The only difference in them that I could tell was that the two with the yellowing leaves are in sun all day long and the others get partial shade. I should add that I live in Lake Havasu City, Arizona where it gets really got in the summer and very seldom rains. It has already gotten to 116 last weekend! I have tried everything including giving them more water, adding chelated iron, and using epsom salts. It all helped a little but not enough. I am noticing a big improvement with the vinegar solution. The plants are now very green and although still not as lush as the other three are filling out more again. Many new leaves are appearing. They look a whole lot better. Give the vinegar (I used white vinegar)a try. Since you probably already have the vinegar on hand you can't lose anything by trying it. Last summer I did lose one Hibiscus that suddenly wilted over night and never did recover. It was really weird because one day it was fine and the next day it wasn't. I talked to a couple of other people who had this same thing happen and so far we haven't figured out why. It affected both leaves and blooms.

    Bookmark   June 11, 2006 at 2:50AM
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Hi Sharon,
Thanks, I may give the vinegar a try. But if the vinegar just lowers soil pH, then this may not help me since my soil pH is fine. Unless maybe there is something else in the vinegar that helps. About your plant that wilted overnight, it may be root knot nematodes. I think they can do in a plant very rapidly because they attack the plant's roots. Do a Google search on that and make sure I am correct. I think there is also a viral disease that can cause plants to wilt overnight. Thanks for your advice, and good luck with your hibiscus!

    Bookmark   June 11, 2006 at 12:55PM
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sharonlf(z10 AZ)

I don't think that the plant that wilted overnight was because of root knot nematodes. Our soil is not sandy at all and there were no swellings on the roots. There was also no previous signs of the plant looking unhealthy. I thought of Texas Root Rot, but the roots looked fine and another hibiscus planted in the same spot is doing well. By the way, here is a link to the article I ready before trying the vinegar thingie. It worked wonderfully for me. If your problem is different maybe it won't work for you, but I'd say it was worth a try.

Here is a link that might be useful: Vinegar may aid hibiscus

    Bookmark   June 11, 2006 at 3:19PM
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Thanks a lot for that interesting article. I am now wondering if my problem is water because a hibiscus that I've had in a pot for months and has been very dark green and healthy, has just joined in with the yellow leaves business. It is in Miracle Gro potting mix while the others are in the ground, which isn't nearly as nutrient-rich as the MG. The only treatment these plants get that is identical is the watering frequency. Maybe I've been watering them too much since we've been in a drought. They also prefer rain water over what comes out of our hose. I suspect our hose water is very hard and has a high pH. The last time I checked my soil pH is was 6-7, which should be OK but maybe they prefer it a little lower. So I will try the vinegar the next time I water. Thanks again and good luck!

    Bookmark   June 18, 2006 at 1:51AM
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Sharon, I tried the vinegar thing on my two hibiscus plants, because I had yellow leaves. Both are in pots. I wanted to plant them in the yard, but thought that it would be too hot i Bakersfield, CA in mid-summer (110-120 F) for them. Anyway, the next day after the vinegar treatment our temperature went from mid-80s to about 100 F. And it just so happened that on that day, I forgot to water them! Well, almost all the leaves on both drooped straight down. They both look dead! I assumed the problem was that I did not water them on a day when the temperature changed very suddenly. They were not in direct sun, but under an umbrella. So, I brought them inside, but they both look awful. One looks as though all its leaves will eventually drop off; the other may keep a few. I assumed the heat was the problem, but then I read that your plants live in the ground in a place with similar summer temps. So, any advice on what else might have gone wrong? Any advice on what to do with them now? I am a newbie, and feel that I have no idea what I am doing. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Discouragedly, Mark

    Bookmark   June 19, 2006 at 1:03AM
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My suggestion is that perhaps the 1 cup/gallon of vinegar and water is OK for a plant that is in the ground but may be too strong for a potted plant, where the vinegar solution is trapped in the pot. Then add the 100 degree heat the next day and this may have shocked the plants. What I would do (and I am no expert but I do have lots of success with hibiscus) is flush the potted plants with plain water to wash out most of the vinegar. Then let them recover in the shade. If you have a soil pH meter, check it right after you flush the pots with water. A pH of 6.0-7.0 should be fine. Then I would check it again the next day and make sure it didn't rebound and drop back down. Are the pots plastic or terra cotta? I am thinking maybe terra cotta would soak up some of the vinegar and you'd have to do a few more flushes to get rid of it. Good luck....keep us posted about your progress.

    Bookmark   June 19, 2006 at 5:17PM
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I bought a hibiscus two years ago and immediately after planting it, it started to wilt and die. Someone told me that it was infected with a fungus and that a weak solution of bleach and water would help. I was highly sceptical but gave it a try as I had nothing to lose.
You should see it now!! Four feet tall and blooms like crazt - it is a beautiful double red!

    Bookmark   July 12, 2006 at 7:15PM
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Help! I moved my hibiscus inside from a south facing balcony. It is dropping leaves like mad but the ones remaining are either strong and green or turning yellow. I'm wondering if I should put it back outside and if so, how to protect it as I live in a condo and only have an outdoor balcony. I will try the vinegar for the yellow leaves. Any suggestions are welcome!

    Bookmark   January 2, 2009 at 11:49AM
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Hibiscus DO NOT LIKE WET FEET so do not over water or keep soil wet, they like dry soil with occasional watering..I feed mine plant food for acid loving plants but not now in the winter or dry season...been growing them 29 years here in FL. also best not to plant on north side of home, they do not like cold, will freeze, and frost will set them back severely.
My pink one:

    Bookmark   February 20, 2009 at 9:50AM
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I am a newbie and not sure if this is going to sound silly or not :)

I also have a hibiscus that is blooming and very healthy seeming except that it is getting yellow leaves and then drops them. I was reading this thread on vinegar and water, but am concerned that since mine is in a pot that it may harm it. I was wondering if coffee wouldn't do the same thing as vinegar? I know both my mom and grandma used to feed tea and coffee to their acid loving plants and they always did well.

I also should mention that I have only had this plant for a week so had considered it may be just shock from moving that turned the leaves. But it seems to be getting more and I really don't want to kill it. It was a gift from my boyfriend and he would never let me live it down :). Plus it's pretty lol.

No sure what variety of hibiscus it is as it didn't come with a tag, but it's been trained to grow into a standard. Not sure if that makes them more prone to stress? I also have it in partial Shad, would it like full sun better?

    Bookmark   June 13, 2010 at 8:55AM
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The hibiscus I planted last year never did well and had a big problem with the yellowing/dropping leaves. I have 2 new ones and want to prevent that... Am going to try the vinegar idea since we have very hard well water and that could be the problem. How often do you water with it? The article didn't say exactly, but it sounded like once a month might be good?

    Bookmark   May 11, 2011 at 2:50PM
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Hi there,

I just got a Hibiscus from a local nursery. It was huge, had lush green leaves and big orange flowers. The next few days at home on the balcony (90s out and 75% humidity) where it gets full sun, the leaves began to wilt before turning yellow, and began dropping off, as well as the flower buds.

I quickly switched to another part of the balcony where it gets full indirect sun, watered more and leaves/petals misted with water about 3-4 times a day. What a huge change for it literally overnight!

Just wanted to share the misting part! Some leaves are still dropping off, but at least it's slowed down. I'll try a more diluted version of the white vinegar water ratio since mine is potted.

    Bookmark   August 6, 2011 at 4:38PM
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Hibs like that misting during hot summer days. Your specimen may have been growing in a partially shaded area, so sudden exposure to the sun shocked it. You did the right thing. Now, try to get some seaweed and spray your plant according the manufacturer's direction. Seaweed lessens stress in plants, and it should help your plant recover faster and become stronger.

Good luck.

    Bookmark   August 7, 2011 at 1:32PM
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Well, I guess this answered my question. I had the same problem with my peach hibiscus flowers turning to yellow. Did the vinegar/water solution and they then started dying. Well - the problem was, it was not explained that the solution given was for IN GROUND hibiscus and not potted (which mine were). I am trying to save them, have taken them out of the pots and removed all the soil from the root ball, and rinsed them in fresh water. Planning on repotting them in fresh soil to see if they revive. Wish me luck! If not, lesson learned. Only wish the suggestion had said it was for in ground plants. :(

    Bookmark   August 31, 2012 at 10:02AM
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sharonlf(z10 AZ)

I had forgotten this post was still around. tke735, I'm sorry that I wasn't clear enough that my hibiscus are planted in the ground. I mentioned that I had five of them planted in a row and I guess I just assumed that people would know that they are in the ground. Here in Arizona most plants don't do as well in pots due to the extreme heat. Sorry.

    Bookmark   August 31, 2012 at 1:50PM
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