How to Revive a Dying Hibiscus Properly

Hibiscus thrives when there is full sun and humid soil. It also needs constant warm temperatures. Higher humidity, far from wind and Draughts.

Dry soil, low humidity and excessive airflow are the main causes of hibiscus death. This can cause the leaves to turn yellow and fall off, and the hibiscus’s appearance to fade. A sudden drop in temperature or frost can cause the death of Hibiscus.

Hibiscus is very sensitive to environmental changes and can adapt to specific environments.

If the situation isn’t changed, the leaves will turn yellow and eventually fall off.

Sometimes, however, a slight drop in leaf or yellowing of the leaves can be temporary. The hibiscus will re-emerge after adapting to the environment or improving the conditions.

Table of references for the most common reasons to die hibiscus

Continue reading to learn why your hibiscus plants are dying and how to bring them back to life.

Low Humidity and Airflow Hibiscus Leaves are turning yellow or falling off due to low humidity

Hibiscus, a tropical plant, is well-adapted for higher humidity levels and more stable conditions.

Low humidity or high winds can cause hibiscus to lose its leaves. This drains water away from the leaves. The yellowing of the hibiscus leaves can cause them to fall off, which may stop them from losing moisture. This could lead to drought stress and even death.

Dry conditions and winds can cause low humidity levels that make it difficult for hibiscus plants to thrive.

Low humidity can cause leaf loss especially when tropical plants like hibiscus have to be moved inside for winter protection .

Indoor humidity can be lower than outside, and the hibiscus will shed its leaves in protest.

You should keep your hibiscus out of windy areas in your yard, or if it is indoors, avoid heating sources or air conditioning that could create drafts that could lead to convection currents around the home.

(Low humidity can also be one of the reasons for the bud dropping and may prevent the hibiscus from displaying or even forming flowers Read my article on on the reason my hibiscus flowering but not blooming to learn how to fix the issue).

hibiscus with sky in background

How to revive Hibiscus leaves that have turned yellow or fallen due to low humidity

  • Use a mist sprayer to mist your hibiscus plants inside. A humid environment can be created by spraying your hibiscus plants every day. This mimics the natural humidity. The mist that falls onto the leaves can reduce water loss and reduce the effects of low humidity. The mist helps to wick away water, so the hibiscus may be able keep most of its leaves.
  • Protect the hibiscus by placing it in a safe area. The best place for hibiscus is one that is not subject to drafts and winds. You can place your hibiscus plant in a pot, or move it to an area where it is not exposed to the wind.
  • Always keep the potting soil moist. You should water your hibiscus every day to keep it moist (but not saturated). Your roots will be more susceptible to drying if they have a constant source of water.

The hibiscus can be kept in a more humid and protected environment by creating conditions that are less prone to moisture loss or sudden temperature fluctuations due to air flow.

Although this could help to retain more leaves, it could still cause them to fall as hibiscus plants are very sensitive to environmental changes.

You can help your hibiscus grow stronger and more vibrant leaves by giving it the best possible care.

Dry Soil Causes Hibiscus Leaves to Wilt, Turn Yellow, and Dropping

Hibiscus is a tropical plant that thrives in moist, well-drained soils rich in organic matter.

If the soil of hibiscus dry to the point of joining with roots,, the leaves of the hibiscus turn green and then wilt, an indication of stress.

The appearance of wilting indicates that the hibiscus is losing more water through transpiration and drawing it up from its roots.

Water shortages are not sustainable. In severe drought, hibiscus blooms turn yellow and then stop the plant losing water.

Your hibiscus plants could be suffering from drought stress for a number of reasons.

  • Not enough watering or not enough watering to reach the roots.
  • It is too small, and it dries too quickly in the sun. Pots that are smaller than usual can hold soil. They also dry out faster in the sun.
  • The soil can’t hold enough moisture. Sandy soils drain quickly and don’t retain moisture. Hibiscus thrives when there is enough organic matter to retain moisture. However, it also needs to drain well so that it doesn’t get saturated soil.

How to Resurrect a Dying, Wilting Hibiscus

Your hibiscus could become stressed if it is left in dry soil for too much time. It is important to make sure that your hibiscus plants are properly hydrated.

  • You should water your hibiscus every day to keep the soil moist. Your climate and surrounding conditions will determine how often you water your hibiscus. Make sure you check the soil around the plant for moisture. If the top inch feels dry, give it a good soak.
  • Your hibiscus plants need to be watered well, not just quickly. If you water your floweringhibiscus in too little water, the soil will only cover the top inch or so of the plant. The water won’t penetrate the soil to reach the roots. The roots grow closer to the surface to try to get water. This increases drought susceptibility. The roots can be developed by soaking in the water for a long time to prevent them from wilting.
  • Always plant hibiscus plants in the pot of minimum 12 inches in diameter with the same proportional depth. Pots smaller than the recommended size and deeper have less soil. They dry faster because they hold less water. The pot for hibiscus should be at minimum 12 inches (or at least as large that the size of the plant) to ensure that the roots get enough water to stop the leaves from wilting, becoming yellow, and then falling off.
  • Hibiscus should be planted in soil rich in organic material. You must prepare the area for planting hibiscus flowers in a garden using compost, leaves, or well-rotted manure. This will ensure that the soil has the right moisture balance to prevent hibiscus wilting.
  • After giving your hibiscus a good watering, add 2 inches of mulch (made from compost leaf mold, well-decomposed manure) to the soil around your flowering hibiscus. This will help conserve soil moisture and provide the right conditions for hibiscus’ growth.
  • You should plant your hibiscus in a moist potting soil or a multi-purpose compost. The compost retains moisture but is porous. It also has an areaed structure which allows for adequate drainage. It mimics soil conditions in native hibiscus habitats.
  • To increase humidity spray the hibiscus plants with mist. Wilting occurs when the leaves lose more water than the roots, and then the roots pull it back up. Regular misting of the leaves can create a moist microclimate which stops the leaves losing too much water. This is especially true if humidity is low or there is a lot of airflow that takes moisture away from the leaves.

Once you have established a watering strategy that keeps your soil moist, and have addressed any environmental issues that could cause soil to dry out too quickly, the hibiscus will be able to recover as best it can.

Although recovery can take a while, new leaves will begin to appear during the spring and summer months, when the weather is favorable.

Poor Soil How to Resurrect Yellow Hibiscus Leaves

  • It is a good idea to move your hibiscus from its pots to a larger pot with a different soil. Pots with a larger capacity can hold more soil and the roots of the Hibiscus will have better access to the nutrients.
  • Mulch can be a great way to fertilize hibiscus plants that have been placed in the ground. To add nutrients and water conservation to your soil, apply a 2 inch mulch made of leaf mold, compost, or well rotted manure. This will improve the soil structure, as well as provide nutrients. It improves soil ecosystems and makes soil more able absorb nutrients. To get the best results, apply the mulch once in spring. In winter, you can apply it again.
  • To fertilize the spring-established hibiscus plants, apply fertilizer. A little fertilizer can help yellow the leaves as hibiscus plants are heavy-feeders. A miracle-gro is a multi-purpose fertilizer that contains the right amount of nutrients at the correct concentrations for your hibiscus plants. You should also look for granules with a slow release to avoid any problems caused by too much fertilizer, which could make your hibiscus susceptible to diseases.

The hibiscus can recover its yellow appearance by amending the soil and applying fertilizer. It will then grow greener leaves.

However, I would like to stress that you should use less fertilizer than is recommended by the manufacturer because it could lead to an extended growth period that is more susceptible to fungal diseases.

Hibiscus leaves turn yellow due to a lack of nutrients

Hibiscus are heavy feeders and need rich, nutrient-rich soil in order to thrive. The leaves turn yellow if they are planted in poor, sandy soil that is low in nutrients (usually nitrogen). This is an indication of stress. Poor soil will result in hibiscus plants blooming less quickly.

Pots of hibiscus are often used to prevent yellowing of the leaves due to a lack of nutrients.

The roots can drain the soil from the container, which could cause the leaves to turn yellow if they are left in the same container for too long.

Yellow leaves can be seen if the hibiscus is planted in sandy soil that does not hold as much nutrients. This problem is easy to solve

The Death of Hibiscus in Cold Weather

Hibiscus, a tropical plant, is not tolerant to frosty or cold temperatures. They are also sensitive to temperature fluctuations. Hibiscus needs an ideal nighttime temperature of at least 59oF (12oC) . If temperatures are much lower than 59oF, the hibiscus could lose all of its leaves and die after long exposure to cold.

It is important that you note that there are two types of hibiscus available at garden centers.

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

Of course, the tropical species is more sensitive to cold, and in the majority of climates , it is best to plant in pots and kept indoors during winter because even a short period of cold weather could cause the leaves to become yellow and fall off.

It is therefore important to cultivate the variety of hibiscus that is appropriate for your climate in order to avoid leaves that turn yellow.

While tropical hibiscus may shed their yellow leaves following a severe chills, the plant are able to recover if temperatures remain moderate (above 59oF) or the plant is moved inside for protection. New leaves appear in spring and summer.

The tropical hibiscus species cannot survive in tropical climates.

Hardy cultivars of hibiscus are tolerant of frost however, they should be planted in full sun areas.

Hardy hibiscus blooms longer and lasts longer than tropical ones. If you are concerned about winter cold, make sure to buy hibiscus at your local garden centre.

It is important that you remember that extreme temperature changes can cause hibiscus plants with hardy leaves to lose their leaves. However, they will recover if your best practices are followed in caring for them. New leaves will appear in the Spring after the plant has adjusted to the new environment.

Root Rot and Fungal Disease

Because hibiscus is tropical and likes well-drained soils it’s not surprising that it can often die and wilt. However, too much water around roots could cause yellowing, leaf drooping, and the appearance of dying.

Hibiscus needs moist soil that is well-drained. The soil is too saturated for hibiscus to grow in. This creates conditions that encourage fungal diseases. This prevents the roots from transferring nutrients and water into the leaf. The leaves then turn yellow and fall off.

This highlights the importance of ensuring the soil moisture balance is just right for your hibiscus plants.

Due to:

  1. Slow draining soils such as clay soils and compacted soils can lead to a lot more water around the roots. This will prevent roots from breathing and may cause root rot, which can result in yellowed leaves.
  2. Overwatering. Hibiscus prefers soil that is moist and not boggy. It is possible for the soil around your roots to be damp. This could hinder the soil’s ability to absorb air. A moist, well-aerated soil is better for hibiscus health.
  3. Pots that have drainage holes in the bottom. Pots without drain holes, saucers, tray or drainage holes underneath, or decorative outer pots that have no drain holes, can lead to water accumulation within your hibiscus roots, which will cause the leaves to yellow and eventually die.

It can be difficult to save a hibiscus if it has been in saturated soil for a long time. The roots could have deteriorated, or the fungal infection may be spreading throughout the plant. This makes it more likely to die.

Reduce the amount of watering after the hibiscus is potted. Make sure the water can flow freely from the bottom. You can do this by changing the pot, or taking out any saucers or trays that are underneath the hibiscus. Then it will have the chance to recover.

Prevention of fungal disease is better than any other method for preventing fungal infections. If you have naturally boggy soil in your garden, always plant hibiscus in pots as they offer better drainage. Make sure that drainage holes are not blocked by soil that has been compacted. This can hinder the soil’s ability to drain.

The hibiscus plant can be grown in compost because it is well-drained, but it can hold the moisture that mimics the soil conditions of hibiscus and balance of moisture in their natural habitat.

You should water the hibiscus until it becomes moist but not too dry.

You can determine if your hibiscus needs water by testing the soil’s moisture content. This is done by pressing down on the soil up to one inch. Wait at least one day if the soil is still wet.

Give your hibiscus a good irrigation if the soil is dry but still slightly moist.

Seasons Change and Hibiscus Indoors Can Cause Yellow or Dropping Leaves

Hibiscus is adaptable to a tropical climate. Therefore, if the hibiscus lives in a house or in a garden that is more volatile than its seasons, the leaves will turn yellow and fall off. This is an indicator of stress from the changing conditions.

The environment is changing and hibiscus are susceptible. They are more likely than ever to lose their leaves, especially when it gets cooler.

This is usually the case when your hibiscus is brought inside to protect it against frost in Winter. Your home’s interior is very different from what you see outside.

It could also be because the circumstances are different.

  • The amount of sunlight (less indoor light).
  • Humidity (indoors is more humid than outdoors)
  • Air conditioning and heat sources can cause temperature fluctuations and leaf fall.
  • Watering: If the hibiscus is grown outdoors, it will be able to benefit from rain. Indoors, the environment and air are cooler so the need for water might rise. This means that you may need to water more often to prevent dehydration.

The leaves will usually turn yellow. The leaves may yellow or drop at different seasons. However, the hibiscus can rebound and new growth will appear in the spring or summer.

If you want to bring your hibiscus indoors, it is important to use the best methods to care for it.

  • To create a moister microclimate, mist the hibiscus often.
  • Place the hibiscus in the window that receives the most sunlight, and it should be at least five hours in direct sunlight.
  • The hibiscus plants should be kept away from airflow and air conditioning, as well as heat sources.
  • You should water your hibiscus as often as you can to keep the soil moist, but not saturated.

The hibiscus can repopulate next spring if it is taken care of correctly.

Too little sunlight – Hibiscus is not growing

Hibiscus has the highest growth rate and produces more flowers in full sunlight. It can grow with as little as 5 hours of sunlight. Your hibiscus may not grow well in shade or in dimmed light. It might also have fewer flowers and change in color due to stress.

Indoor hibiscus is often more difficult because they have less light in their homes.

Low levels of sunlight can make the hibiscus less likely to bloom and cause weak growth. The leaves can turn yellow or become brittle.

This can only be done by finding the best spot in your house to put your hibiscus to re-energize.

If your hibiscus plants are in shaded areas, you can let more light in by removing any branches from the trees. Or you may need to transfer them into larger pots and place them in a sunny area of your patio.

Hibiscus can be extremely sensitive to sudden changes in its environment and may shed its leaves if it is moved to full sun from a shaded location abruptly. Potted Hibiscus should therefore be gradually exposed to more sunlight for two weeks.

This could be done by moving it to a spot with more shade, before you move it to full sunlight and acclimatize your hibiscus to more sun.

Yellow leaves are caused by high levels of phosphorous in the soil

The amount of phosphorous in the soil is a major concern for hibiscus plants. This is usually caused by fertilizer being applied frequently or in large amounts.

If phosphorous is accumulated in soil, it could create other nutrients, such as insoluble, and hinder the hibiscus’s roots from taking iron from the soil.

Excessive fertilizer can cause yellowing of the leaves, which prevents the hibiscus flowering. Also, the plant will appear deflated and dying.

Over-zealous fertilizer application can lead to soil phosphorous accumulation, particularly if it contains a lot of phosphorous. These fertilizers are often called “bloom boosters”, which are meant to increase flowering.

Reduce fertilizer application if you think that yellowing leaves are caused by phosphorous. It should be watered frequently.

Regular watering will dissolve the layers of slats that result from regular fertilizer use.

You can send a sample to be tested for phosphorous in order to determine if you have a problem. This service is available to trusted nurseries and garden centres.

Because the fertilizer particles slowly release nutrients into the soil, it is difficult to prevent soil phosphorous accumulation. Miracle-gro’s all-purpose Granular fertilizer contains the right amount of nutrients at the correct concentration to enable plants to bloom like the hibiscus.

You can find fertilizers with less phosphorous at garden centers and online that can be used to revive the hibiscus plants. However, it is important to water the plant regularly.

Because of the sensitive nature of phosphorous, it may take a while to bring back hibiscus plants. Therefore patience is important. They will eventually recover. Make sure you read the labels to avoid fertilizers that contain a lot of phosphorous. This must be noted on the label.

The Key Takeaways

  • The most common reason for the death is drought stress. Hibiscus thrives in moist soils that have high humidity. The soil can dry out, or humidity is too low, and hibiscus plants will lose more water than their roots can absorb.
  • The roots of hibiscus can turn yellow from too much water or submerging. Hibiscus needs well-drained soil that is always moist. Too wet soil can cause root rot, which leads to hibiscus death. However, dry soil causes the leaves to yellow and wilt.
  • Hibiscus requires full sun. It should not be placed in shade as it can cause it to stop growing. The leaves will turn yellow and it may not produce flowers. To encourage growth and flowering, place hibiscus plants where there is at least five hours of sunshine per day. This will help to prevent the leaves from turning yellow.
  • The leaves can become yellowed and fall off if there is too much wind or airflow. Hibiscus requires high humidity so it must be protected from wind and other draughty areas. To mimic the humidity in tropical hibiscus’s native habitat, mist the leaves often.
  • You can revive a dead hibiscus by making sure that the soil is not too dry. To increase the humidity, mist your leaves and ensure that your hibiscus receives at least five hours of sunlight each day. Once you have adjusted the conditions to suit blooming hibiscus plants, new growth will begin to appear in spring.
  • You should plant hibiscus in well-drained soils and pots with drainage holes at their base. Hibiscus needs moist, but well-drained soil. Because of the potential for root decay and fungal diseases, if your roots are in saturated soil, they will die.


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