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Trying to save two hibiscus plants

Posted by arletta (My Page) on
Wed, Jul 11, 07 at 8:47


This is my first time posting on the board and I'm hopeful that someone can offer good advice.

My dad passed away last year, and he was an avid gardener. He LOVED his hibiscus plants, and now I have them. I feel responsible to give them tender care, because they were his plants.

My dad lived in NY and I live in NJ. I brought them home last summer and they did fantastic. When fall rolled around I brought them in, and this year when the weather turned warm, I put them out again. They're in the shade for most of the day and I water them at night.

Saturday morning I went out and I saw that deer ate practically every leaf off of both plants. The plants look horrible. I'm at a loss as to what to do with them. I don't want to throw them out, I feel guilty doing that, but I don't know what to do with them at this point. They look like planted sticks. Will they come back? One of the 2 plants wasn't looking too great anyway, but now they both look terrible. I guess I'm trying to figure out whether or not to hang in there with them, and if yes, should I cut them back?

Thank you for taking time to read this post. Any helpful advice would be greatly appreciated.


Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Trying to save two hibiscus plants

A couple of my hibiscus have been stressed by lost leaves and weather conditions.
If the damage on yours is confined to the leaves and not the stalk, I would feed them with either hibiscus food or MiracleGro 13-13-13 or 20-20-20. Keep them in a shady spot. If the stalks are broken, prune the damaged limb(s).
I have 12 hibs in my backyard and haven't lost any due to stress or stripped leaves - yet.

RE: Trying to save two hibiscus plants

Thank you so much for your reply! The stalks have been chewed up on the ends. Thats what concerns me. I know the stalk won't re-grow from the end and if I cut the stalks down from the main branch, I'll have nothing left. I will try to post some pics. I didn't know deer like the taste of hibiscuses that much!!! Thank you again.


RE: Trying to save two hibiscus plants

If the chewing is at the end of the limbs, don't do anything to the plants other than feeding them and pampering them in a shady spot. The chewed part(s) can be trimmed when the plant recovers from the stress and puts out new leaves. No pruning should be needed at this time. Do post pics for my fyi. Best wishes.

RE: Trying to save two hibiscus plants

I think they'll be okay. I had a very small one I bought this spring that was only 1 branch. I put it outside and almost immediately the STUPID rabbits ate it almost completely off. There were only 2 leaves left, and less than 2 inches of stem. I continued to pamper it, assuming it would send up new shoots. It has taken almost a month, but there is evidence that it is beginning to grow again. FYI, Liquid Fence works well on deterring my rabbits (I, too, didn't know the critters like hibs or I'd have done a pre-emptive strike) and I hear it works for deer, too. I don't have many deer, so I don't know from experience. It's pricey, but if it works, it'd be worth it to me to save my dad's plants.

RE: Trying to save two hibiscus plants

Arletta, first, sorry about your dad..

Is there any way you can set the hibs in front of your house, or an area away from deer?
Also, hibs need a bright the beginning, it's a good idea placing plants in shade, but for sun-loving plants, like hibs, they should be placed in sun.
I love deer, but they can be destructive..I use an insect/wildlife repellent, containing red pepper..some animals might enjoy its flavor so don't know if it'd work or not.
And it won't harm them..I wouldn't hurt wildlife, but we have major problems w/squirrels.
I too would wait before pruning..If you're going to feed, place in another location, somewhere brighter..I hope you can find hib food, or something high in nitrogen..right now you need a fertilizer to get leaves to grow, and nitrogen is the answer. Or as Corona mentioned, a 20-20-20 would be sufficient.
Good luck, I hope they come back..Toni

RE: Trying to save two hibiscus plants

Hopefulauthor is correct in that hibs need bright sun. I suggested the shady location until the plant recovers because in my part of the world (Texas) the sun is much to intense for stressed or new plants. Bright sun is one thing but we are under klieg lights. My established hibs love it although we try to hose them down in the evening during July & August. Do let us know how yours turn out.

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