Yellow leaves

Cmoores1December 12, 2013

Hi, please help.
I've recently inherited my mom's 15+ year braided hibiscus. She wasn't the best at watering, so it was in need of tlc , the leaves are sporadic but green. I pruned a couple undesirable branches right away. Some leaves started to yellow and drop. I assumed it was the stress of the move. It continued to do this, not all the leaves, only about 5-6 at a time, but included large leaves and new ones.
I then researched and decided to Root prune and use new soil. I root pruned 1/5 of the root ball, from the sides and bottom. And also did a semi hard prune on the branches. It has been a few weeks now and my leaves continue to yellow and drop.
I sprayed it with Scotts ecosense incesticide spray as I did see some signs of webbing, but not alot. And only in the wedge at the base of branches. It is indoors and in a bright room, I move it into my sunny window 3-4 times a week.
I have spayed it the last couple of days with the soap to hopefully kill and critters I may have.
There is a ton of new growth on the pruned branches and I'm excited that is coming in great, but some leaves continue to yellow and drop.

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They turn completely yellow before they do drop. There looks to be stippling? on the leaves and I will take a picture when I have a fallen leaf.

    Bookmark   December 12, 2013 at 10:31AM
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This is the same leaf as the first picture one day after.

    Bookmark   December 13, 2013 at 11:34AM
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The tiny webs we likely the first sign of spider mites. They are not affected by most insecticides. You have a few options.

1. The most expensive (and questionable for me) is Kontos. This is a systemic miticide that is added to the soil and the plant absorbs into the leaves, and hopefully kills them.

2. Drowning them is another option. If you have a way to fill a container, tub, etc.. you can submerge the plant in warm water for a 15 min or so. Use cheese cloth or an old pair of hosiery to contain the soil.

3. Horticulture oil spray. This is a fine oil that when properly mixed, is applied all over the plant and leaves. It coats the plant and mites in a fine layer that also suffocates. This needs to be done 3 times or so over a 5-6 week period to end the entire cycle of egg to mite. Remember to use a respirator while spraying. Also, the plant should be left in low light or darkness as it dries.

4. This is the method I use. I take every tropical into the shower and using a strong detachable sprayer, hit the plant heavily over and under leaves. Mites are easily knocked off and I do this almost monthly to all my plants. They also appreciate the shower hydrating leaves and cleaning them.

Hope this helps,

    Bookmark   December 13, 2013 at 7:52PM
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Thanks for your answer. I'm not convinced that it is spider mites, as since I first saw the bit of webbing and cleaned it off, none had come back.
Also, I place a piece of white paper behind the leaves and flick them, trying to get some onto the paper, with absolutely no luck, but alot of persistence.
Wondering what my next steps should be? I have a ton of new growth. Should I just leave it alone for a while and see what happens? I don't want to lose this beautiful tree, but am wondering if I am doing more harm than good.

    Bookmark   December 19, 2013 at 2:01PM
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Patience is important here.
Items to remember:
Mite damage is a long term battle. You may have won a fight but have yet to win the war yet. Leaf damage may continue after the mites are gone. Be patient and watch new growth. Also, mites run in cycles. If you eliminated the adults, eggs may be present. I suggest you be patient and keep an eye on the plant. Tropical hibiscus are very resilient.

I have attached photos of some of my current yellow leaf issues. Below is fertilizer burn.

    Bookmark   December 19, 2013 at 8:38PM
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Stress from watering neglect.

    Bookmark   December 19, 2013 at 8:39PM
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Normal loss from light change or age.

    Bookmark   December 19, 2013 at 8:43PM
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Leaf fungus.

    Bookmark   December 19, 2013 at 8:44PM
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Thank you so much. I have been persistent, and treated 2 cycles at 5 days, planning to do one more treatment on Sunday, to get whatever eggs haven't been hatched.
Thank you for responding as I know nothing about this and am trying to learn, but finding a ton of conflicting info on the Internet.
I am wondering what you think for watering? I don't let it dry out between waterings, but don't let it get soggy either, I pour out the drained water instead of leaving it in the tray. I'm worried that I'm over watering it, probably twice a week. What are your watering suggestions? I will continue to be diligent and watch for signs.
Thank you for all of your advice, I truly appreciate it!

    Bookmark   December 20, 2013 at 8:43AM
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Hibiscus isn't usually shy to say 'Water me' and wilt...and recovers well (for me at least). I also noticed if they feel too cold, they'll wilt (and don't water them then...).

    Bookmark   December 20, 2013 at 4:39PM
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What about over watering them though? What do they do then?

    Bookmark   December 20, 2013 at 5:17PM
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This depends on several variables.
How large is the pot?
How large is the plant?
Is the plant blooming?
What type of CV it is.

Tropical hibiscus like a well draining, potassium rich environment. As the temperatures drop, they do go into a form of dormancy and require less water and food. I have a few varieties that need a careful balance of water and I watch these closely during the winter. The method I use it not only watch the leaves, but even feel them. I know how the leaves should look and feel when they are happily hydrated. They feel crisp like you would have in a fresh salad. And they have a perky appearance. Like dbarron mentioned, they will quickly let you know when they are thirsty. Leaves will begin to droop and have a soft tissue paper feel. At this time I give them a decent watering and check back after an few hours. Usually the plant has returned to its typical form.

Here are some examples:
Voodoo Magic is a very robust, plant of medium size and the pot is average. At this time, it is not blooming. I typically water thoroughly every 5-7 days.
Thunder Egg is a robust plant that is still vigorously growing in a smaller pot. It is also continuing to bloom. Because it needs more fluids to support new growth and the flowers, I water more often. This is about every 4-5 days.
Black Dragon is a smaller plant in a smaller pot. It is not blooming and is known to have issues with over watering.
I water it every 7-10 days.
Creole Lady is a large plant in a larger pot. It is a robust plant that is has not stopped growing and blooming since I brought it inside 3 months ago. I find myself watering every couple of days. Image of bloom that opened this morning attached.

Basically, I try and watch each of my plants and get to know how much they need. Also remember to keep a bottle of hand sanitizer available. I use it every time I touch a plant to prevent insect and disease spread.

Hope this helps,

    Bookmark   December 21, 2013 at 11:25AM
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It is in a15 or 16" diameter pot. It's not blooming as I pruned it 4 weeks ago. Tons of new growth. I don't know what cv means so I can't answer that.
My leaves are very vibrant green, some are developing yellow along the edge, but the plant looks better.
What does over watering look like.
I have no idea what variety my plant is, but it's braided and a tree.

    Bookmark   December 21, 2013 at 12:56PM
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Over watering may cause root rotting or even wilt disease. What type of lighting do you have? I would make sure the potting medium is not soggy. You can use a skinny bamboo stick and use it like a toothpick and a cake. Test how dry the soil depth is and water accordingly.

A CV is short for cultivar or variety.
Attached is an image of the CV 'Pinot Noir' that just opened this afternoon.

    Bookmark   December 21, 2013 at 3:43PM
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Beautiful flower. I have no idea what variety mine is. When I get blooms I guess I will post on here to hopefully find out.
The soil is definitely not soggy. But I don't let it dry out, I would say that I water it every 5 days, with half diluted fertilizer in it. When it comes out the bottom, I let it drain and then dump the tray, and repeat if necessary.

When my mom had it, it was neglected and watered only when she remembered. I'm hoping it's just a case of getting used to my environment and watering. I am thinking that I should cut back the watering to a bit longer in between during the winter.
I just have natural light. It's a very bright room, and gets moved about 5 ft forward when it's a sunny day, to be directly in the sun.
Thank you for all of your information and help. I truly appreciate it.

    Bookmark   December 21, 2013 at 11:42PM
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You are spot on with your plant and I would continue this.

One item of note I have learned is some varieties are so temperamental they show yellow leaf stress from turning a plant to even light.

I suspect you will have success with your continued TLC.


    Bookmark   December 26, 2013 at 11:56PM
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I'm very pleased to say that I have been watering it only every 14 days, and the growth is amazing, no loss.
I continue to move it into the sun on sunny days, and am rewarded by quick growth. I've pinched my buds, to get it to fill in more, but have decided to let them come once they do from now on.
So hopefully I will need help with my variety soon!
I also cut off a rotten branch that was split and half growing, it seemed a big cut, but was rotten to the base, and was a good choice I think.
Thanks for all your advice and encouragement!

    Bookmark   January 16, 2014 at 12:43PM
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