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Yellowing leaves on Hibiscus

Hi all,

Really hoping someone can help me. I recently purchased a Hibiscus syriacus "Starburst Chiffon" from Notcutts and planted it about a month ago. Unfortunately, things have gone from bad to worse. A little before i planted it when it was still in its pot, a few of the leaves had started to yellow slightly. I put it down to not being watered enough, especially with the high temperatures we were experiencing at the time. But since i planted it, the leaves have yellowed even more and have begun dropping off. Most at the ends of the stems, but also some at the bottom too. Im watering it enough to keep the soil moist/damp and i planted it with some miracle grow compost mixed into the border soil.

Some of the younger flower buds have been yellowing and dropping off too, and the ones that do flower dont last long at all. Funnily enough, my mum also bought one of these and hers is doing worse than mine. All her leaves and buds have dropped completely. My friend also has 2 hibiscus (not the same variety) and hers are also worse off than mine and still in their original pots. Could it be just the time of year for the leaves to be falling off?

I checked the roots today and they are nice and white and healthy looking, and slowly spreading through the soil. My soil pH is around 5.8-6.0 so im wondering if this is preventing the hibiscus from obtaining the nutrients it needs? I have some lime i can apply to the soil in the hopes that this will help but thought i would get a few other opinions first. Checking the info on, it says this plant needs neutral to slightly alkaline soil. Doesn't say this on the info card that came with the plant!!

There are no bug infestations from what i can see, except for the odd slug chomping the flower buds and a small caterpillar also nibbling the flowers. No spider mite webs, aphids etc. There's 2 new leaves appearing on a couple of the stems near the top of the plant (one shown in photo) but not sure how these will develop.

Almost at my wits end with this plant but dont want to give up on it as its stunning! Would really appreciate some advice on this. Thanks :)






  •  I would suggest that this is some kind of virus assuming that there is nothing obviously wrong with the soil or pests in the soil attacking the roots for example.

    They are mainly deciduous here in the UK so they will drop their leaves and any remaining buds as we go into autumn. They will then come back in spring before flowering late summer. I have three relatively young plants which I got this year and have not had any issues with them.

  • Paul B3Paul B3 Posts: 3,057

    Hi viator

    Perfectly normal for a yellowing of leaves at this time of year ; they have a relatively short but fast growing season in our latitudes ; usually end of May to end of September .

    If new plants , keep moist for the next few months , not waterlogged ; Spring will commence with good green growth (May onwards) .

    PS  If nursery grown , as you state , there is a possibility that they were raised under poly-tunnel or glasshouse conditions , and the sudden 'shock' of being outdoors can have an adverse effect .

  • Thank you both for your replies :)

    I have previously read that hibiscus can be very sensitive to environmental and temperature changes so maybe you're correct, Paul B3! They were kept in the undercover outdoor section at Notcutts so you raise a good point. Hadn't thought about that before! Hopefully, it isn't a virus and is just a case of the time of year. Fingers crossed for next Spring!

    Do you think its worth trying any lime in the soil or should i hold off on this for a bit longer to see what happens? Although the leaves are yellowing and dropping, today is the first time ive seen any evidence of new leaves unfurling. You sometimes dont know what to believe when you read what type of soil is most suitable for a particular plant!

    Thanks again to you both!

  • Paul B3Paul B3 Posts: 3,057


    I wouldn't add anything to the soil personally ; a good rich garden loam is all they ask for .

  • Hello Viator!

    Thank you for choosing Notcutts Garden Centres.

    Our Plant Expert Colin Dale advises the following.

    "I am sure that the plant will be fine. They come into leaf later than many other shrubs, often in May, and they do drop their leaves in early autumn.  I would suggest that it is suffering a little from shock, as the period that they were available from, started extremely hot and the summer has been variable ever since.  It is a great new variety and fully hardy, so will get its roots down from now, through the winter and should be good & strong for next summer. Personally , I wouldn’t add lime, as this can be difficult to monitor. It sounds as if you have prepared the soil well and so long as the site is a sunny one, I am sure all will be well.  Please do let us know how you get on".

    Just a reminder that we're here to help with tips, tricks and advice.

    Email us at [email protected] and we'll always do our best to help.

    Good luck and stay in touch!

    Notcutts Customer Care.


    Last edited: 14 September 2017 09:19:14

  • Paul B3Paul B3 Posts: 3,057


    I must be psychic!!!image

  • Paul B3 - I think you're right! image

    Notcutts - Many thanks for your reply and for passing this along to your plant expert. Im feeling much more confident now and very much looking forward to seeing how this stunning plant progresses next year.

    Thanks again for everyone's help image

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