How to Revive Your Hibiscus With Leaves Turning Yellow

The leaves of hibiscus turn yellow in response to stress caused by the drought, excessive watering or a deficiency of nutrients, or due to excessive phosphorous levels within the soil. The leaves of the hibiscus varieties that are tropical change color in response to an abrupt decrease in temperatures.

Continue reading to discover the reason your hibiscus’ leaves are turning yellow and how you can revive them…

Drought Stress Causes Hibiscus Leaves to Turn Yellow

The yellow foliage on yourhibiscus could be a result of both stress caused by too much moisture around the roots, or drought stress due to dry soil.

But if the reason for the yellowing of your hibiscus leaves stems from drought-related stress, it is possible to tell if you have excessive watering when the leaves appear to be curled downwards and shriveled because this is an adaptation that helps stop water loss.

The leaves of hibiscus that are yellow result from excessive watering are likely to drop, and appear shriveled.

Stress from drought isn’t necessarily caused by sub watering, but it can be caused by:

  • Wind that is too strong. Hibiscus plants that are located in areas that are extremely windy are more susceptible to stress from drought since the hibiscus is indigenous to climates that are tropical and like some humidity over excessive winds that drain the leaves of moisture, causing the leaves to turn yellow and shrink.
  • Soils drain too quickly. Hibiscus thrives in soils that hold water (yet let excess water be drained out of the root). If the soil on which the hibiscus plant is sandy or stony , the soil may drain too fast for the roots to absorb water, resulting in a deficiency of moisture. The leaves will change color as a result of stress.
  • Watering under the water line. Established hibiscus plants that are established in soil that is moisture-retaining and has high organic content (compost) is not likely to require irrigation. The soil must be kept moist in order to avoid the leaves turning yellow. Therefore, hibiscus plants often require more water based on the speed at which your soil dry out.

Revive Yellow Hibiscus Leaves due to Drought Stress

To bring back your hibiscus that is that is suffering from drought stress the first thing to do be doing is…

  • Give the hibiscus a good soak. A long soak every week is better than a small and frequently watering method because soaking makes sure that the water penetrates the soil to the level that is needed for it to get into the root. The soaking also helps the roots to develop and grow and further increase the hibiscus’s resistance to drought.
  • Protect the hibiscus from excessive winds that strip its leaves. The high winds decrease humidity in the air, which is contrary to the ideal growing conditions of the hibiscus since they’re native to the tropical regions. You might want to plant other plants to act as a buffer against wind or relocate the potted hibiscus plant to an area that’s sun-filled, but perhaps protected from the wind by a fence.
  • Apply mulch on your soil’s surface to allow your hibiscus plant to hold in moisture as well as add nutrients and improve the soil’s structure. Applying a 1-inch layer of leaf mold, compost or manure that has been well-rotted to the soil around the hibiscus increases the soil’s water retention capacity, reducing the chance of drought. Apply the mulch one time in Spring, and it is applied again during the summer months in the event that your soil tends to dry out too quickly.
  • The hibiscus should be watered as often as is necessary to ensure that the soil remains damp. Hibiscus thrives in well-drained and always moist soil. It turns yellow as the soil begins to dry. Typically , watering every week, with a good soak can be enough to avoid the effects of drought and yellow leaves, however you should you should increase the frequency of watering based on your conditions as dry and hot conditions require more frequent watering in order to maintain the plant looking fresh.
  • Make use of a sprayer bottle to spray the leaves with mist to boost the humidity and stop any further loss of water.

With regular irrigation and shelter from wind and mulching, the hibiscus will be able to recover from the stress of drought.

In the next week, the leaves will appear less curled or shriveled, and the yellow leaves should begin to change into a more healthy green hue.

Drought stress is among the main reasons for the hibiscus’s inability to flower, but there are many reasons why the hibiscus to not bloom, that is the reason I wrote a different article on the remedy.

Yellow and Drooping Hibiscus Leaves due to Over Watering

Hibiscus leaves may become yellow not because of being overwatered, but also due to stress caused by overwatering or, more specifically, too much liquid around roots, which emphasizes the importance of finding the right balance of moisture appropriate for the growth of hibiscus.

The yellow hibiscus leaves that result from excessive watering around the roots could be due to:

  • Soils that drain slowly. Soils made up of clay that is heavy, excessively compacted, or naturally boggy, tend to drain too slow for hibiscus, which causes excessive water to accumulate within the root. Hibiscus needs moist, lightly friable soil, such as compost or loam, however it is not tolerant of the boggy soil because it creates conditions for fungal diseases like root rot, which can make its leaves yellow.
  • Overwatering. While hibiscus plants do require regular watering to ensure that the soil stays wet, watering continuously could result in boggy conditions that can cause the leaves to turn yellow and drop in a sign of stress.

If your hibiscus has been planted in a soil that drains slowly or in a boggy low lying part of the garden, then I suggest that you transplant the plant to an area that is altered by a lot of compost in order to improve the soil’s structure. You can also plant the hibiscus in containers, pots and raised beds since they are more suited to drainage conditions.

It is important to note that it’s much easier to make a draining mix for potting than to amend soil in the garden that is typically boggy.

Hibiscus in pots may also change color when the pots don’t have drainage holes at the base, as this mimics the conditions of soils that drain slowly…

Potted Hibiscus Leaves Turning Yellow

Potted Hibiscus leaves may turn yellow due to the same reasons that make any other hibiscus leaves turn yellow, but there are some issues specific to pots that could be the reason for the leaves turning yellow:

  • The most frequent reason for potted hibiscus to turn yellow is the absence of drainage. It is crucial that the pot has drainage holes at the base, or that excess water is able to collect within the root of the plant, causing root rot, which turns its leaves red. Hibiscus roots that are placed in the same container for a lengthy time may become pot bound as well as a matted lattice of roots may hinder drainage, slowing the drainage, thereby depriving the roots of oxygen and preventing root respiration, which causes yellowing leaves.
  • If the hibiscus is placed in the same container for a lengthy period of time, the roots could drain the soil of nutrients and turn the leaves yellow due to an insufficient supply of nutrients.
  • If your hibiscus plant is in the indoor space, then the it could be that the leaves are yellow as an indication of a lack of sunlight. Hibiscus aren’t always the ideal indoor plant since they like full sunshine and are sensitive to seasonal changes in light and temperature, however when you grow the hibiscus indoors, place it near the sunniest window of the house that gets the most direct light is possible.
  • Transferring your pot around from one place to another could make the leaves yellow because of shock from transplant. Hibiscus may become accustomed to a specific place (in terms of heat, sunlight as well as airflow) and when you shift your pot around from one place to another, or even move the pot inside, the stark variations in the conditions could make the leaves of hibiscus yellow because of stress.

How to Revivify Potted Hibiscus that has yellow leaves

  • Hibiscus can be found in pots with decorative holes at the bottom at retail garden centres. Move your hibiscus into the same size pot or one that has drainage holes as quickly as you can and reduce on watering if your soil appears to be saturated instead of just damp. Let the soil dry before watering it again to allow your hibiscus to heal from the stress of water. If the roots are in saturated soil for a prolonged period the root rot could be the reason for the yellowed leaves, and the plant will be difficult to save.
  • Refresh the soil with the hibiscus plants that have been growing in pots for a long time to increase the amount of nutrients. It is best to select a pot that is one size larger from the pot that was previously used because larger pots are able to hold more soil, and thus greater nutrients. Apply half strength soil multi-purpose fertilizer every month during spring and summer, and the leaves that are yellow will begin to turn green.
  • Make sure to plant your hibiscus in an area that receives the highest amount of direct sunlight. Hibiscus originate from the tropical regions and bloom greatest in full sun. With more sunlight, the leaves will be able to recover from their yellow-colored appearance.
  • Hibiscus may take some time to adapt to a new place when they’ve been relocated. So as long as they are in full sunlight and has well-drained but fertile soil that is moist and nutrient-rich, as well as protection from wind, the hibiscus will adjust to its new environment and get back to its original yellow appearance, however the blooms’ display can be affected.

(If the hibiscus in your garden plant is dying, check out my article on ways to bring back a dead plant.).

A soil deficient in nutrients can cause Hibiscus Leaves to Change Color

Hibiscus leaves may turn yellow due to a deficiency of soil nutrients.

Hibiscus are a heavy feeder and therefore, they are often a sign of stress as a result of a deficiency in nutrients, the most obvious being the yellowing of leaves and the absence of flowers.

The sandy or stony soils are less likely to hold much nutrients, and soils that have not been mulched with any organic matter may also be fertile.

Hibiscus thrives in soils that are altered by organic material (such as leaf mold, compost and well-rotted manure) because this creates the perfect conditions in terms the quantity of soil nutrients, and the ability to retain moisture.

If your hibiscus is suffering from low growth with yellow leaves, and there are no flowers, follow these steps:

  • Apply a 1-inch layer of soil around your hibiscus every two years in the spring and summer using materials such as leaves, compost, and well-rotted manure are ideal. This will add fertilizers to your soil and boosts the soil’s ecosystem, which aids to increase the availability of nutrients in the root that your hibiscus.
  • Apply a half strength of all-purpose liquid fertilizer on the hibiscus every month in the spring and summer to compensate for the deficiency of soil nutrients.

It is crucial to find the right balance of nutrients when fertilizing the hibiscus because too much fertilizer may encourage growth of foliage and can harm flowers. Too high levels of phosphorous could cause the leaves turning yellow, which highlights the importance of a balanced fertilizer that has equal amounts of Nitrogen, Phosphorous and Potassium (NPK).

Make use of a liquid fertilizer made by any trusted brand like Miracle-gro, which is readily available at garden centers as well as on Amazon.

Build up of Phosphorous in Soil Turns Hibiscus Leaves Yellow

Hibiscus are quite unique in that they are especially sensitive to the high levels of Phosphorus in the soil.

If phosphorous accumulates in the soil, it could block the roots of the hibiscus from taking in other nutrients, resulting in an imbalance in nutrients which is not fixable by adding more fertilizer.

The leaves are likely to turn yellowand stop the hibiscus flowering during the summer and result in the plant dying again.

The accumulation of phosphorous in soil usually is result from over-zealous application of fertilizers, especially those that contain an excessive amount of phosphorous, which is often advertised as “bloom boosters”.

Reduce the application of fertilizers If you believe that phosphorous is the reason for the leaves of your hibiscus becoming yellow. Water it frequently.

If you want to determine if there is a problem with phosphorous, it is essential to send an amount of soil to be tested. This is a service offered by reliable nurseries and garden centers.

The hibiscus can regenerate, but when there is a substantial accumulation of phosphorous, it will be difficult to revive the plant.

Soil pH Prevents Uptake of Nutrients Causing Yellow Leaves

Hibiscus thrive in soils which have a pH between pH 6 and 7. If hibiscus plants are planted on soils that are either too acidic or alkaline, it is unable to absorb minerals from soil, and the leaves become yellow and have the green lines (chlorosis).

Luckily, the majority of garden soils are within the pH range of 7 as the majority of organic matter falls within this pH level, which is slightly acidic pH after being fully decomposed.

However , soils can be excessively acidic or alkaline due to environmental reasons, such as the rock beneath it.

If a few plants exhibit the signs of yellowing and green veins, then I suggest purchasing soil testers from Amazon or a garden center in order to determine the soil’s pH.

If your soil is outside the pH range of 6-7, then you must plant the hibiscus in containers, pots or raised beds instead of gardening soil since changing the soil’s pH can be an extremely difficult process.

If you can, transplant your hibiscus into an area with multipurpose compost, as this will provide the proper pH for your hibiscus in the long-term hibiscus cannot thrive in excessively pH-sensitive soils or in alkaline ones, without being moved to a more suitable soil.

Lack of Light Can Cause Yellow Hibiscus Leaves

Hibiscus is native to the tropical areas in Asia and flourish and bloom to their full potential in full sun.

If they’re in a shade that is too intense, this could cause the hibiscus ‘ leaves to turn yellow and also cause less overall growth and less blooms , as this is in contrast to the conditions they prefer in their natural habitat.

Find your hibiscus in the most sunny part in your yard. If you have established hibiscus plants remove any plants that could be casting shade over the plant, or on any tree limbs to let more sunlight.

Transfer potted hibsiucs on an area with a lot of sun and make sure that any indoor hibsicus are placed in the most sunny window of your house to prevent the yellowing of leaves.

With the sun’s rays, the hibiscus will be able to recover from its yellow hue.

Cold Weather Causes Tropical Hibiscus Leaves to Turn Yellow

There are two kinds of hibiscus that are commonly grown by gardeners.

  • Tropical hibiscus (Hibiscus rosa-sinensis).
  • Hardy hibiscus (Hibiscus spp. ).

As you’d expect, the tropical species is more sensitive to the cold, whereas the tough species are able to withstand cold temperatures and can live in a greater variety of climates.

The tropical hibiscus’s leaves may change color to yellow when temperatures drop abruptly from the normal range. Tropical hibiscus is not tolerant of freezing temperatures and can be robust within USDA zones 9-11.

It is therefore essential to plant an variety that is hibiscus that is appropriate for your climate in order to keep from having yellow leaves.

Tropical hibiscus may also shed their yellow leaves following a severe cold shock , but they can be able to recover if temperatures remain at a moderate temperature.

Outside of tropical climates , the tropical hibiscus species struggle to live.

The hardy varieties of hibiscus are tolerant of frost however they should be planted in full sun and will bloom for longer than tropical varieties.

Insect Pests can Cause Hibiscus Leaves to Turn Yellow

The healthier your hibiscus’s health is, the more resistant it is to disease and pests.

If your hibiscus is in stress because of a lack of sunlight, poor conditions of the soil, or other factors. the plant is more susceptible to infestation by insects.

There are a variety of insects that could affect hibiscus, the most likely culprit to turn the leaves of hibiscus to yellow would be the spider mite.

Spider mites create yellow pin-sized spots on your hibiscusplants, and possibly causing the leaves to fall and less flowers to be displayed.

Spider mite infestations are however rarely fatal and are easily managed.

The spider mites can be more prevalent in areas with less humidity so spraying your hibiscus plants with mist could be an effective way to discourage them.

For more severe infestations, an insecticide spray made from neem oil. It is an effective remedy and not harmful to other wildlife. It could require two or three treatments to tackle the issue of spider mites. The affected leaves usually fall off, but the hibiscus will recover.

Sprays for insecticides are available at retailers in the garden and on Amazon.

Key Takeaways

  • The reason that hibiscus leaves change color is due to drought stress, excessive watering excessive nitrogen, or excessive phosphorous levels within the soil. A sudden temperature shift could cause the leaves of hibiscus to turn yellow , as could the absence of sunlight.
  • Stress from drought due to sandy soils, excessive wind and insufficient watering can cause the hibiscus’ leaves to become yellow, shrink up , and fall off. Revivify the hibiscus by watering it more frequently by applying mulch, and then spraying the leaves using a mist sprayer.
  • Hibiscus need full sun to thrive and remain healthy. Insufficient shade causes hibiscus to become yellow, shed leaves, and show fewer flowers.
  • To revive hibiscus, create the conditions under which the plants thrived in their natural habitat, which includes plenty of sun, lots of water, well-drained and nutritious soil.


Went from a bad gardener to a half-decent one over 10+ years. Super happy to share my tips and tricks with you :)