We love Hibiscus because it’s beautiful and easy to care for. It gifts us with beautiful trumpet-like flowers that wonderfully decorate the home and garden.
It’s usually a healthy, vibrant plant, so when it’s wilting, your Hibiscus is telling you that there’s something wrong.
But don’t you worry a bit. In this guide, we’ll help you discover why your Hibiscus is wilting.
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Why is my Hibiscus Wilting?
The most common cause of wilting in Hibiscus is over- or underwatering. It could also be a reaction to environmental stress, such as excessive sunlight or a cold shock. In more severe cases, wilting can be the symptom of a serious disease such as root rot.
The first thing to check if your Hibiscus is wilting is that you’re giving it the right amount of water.
The easiest way to test the soil’s moisture level is by sticking your finger into it. If the soil is wet and your hibiscus is wilting, then chances are, it’s being over-watered. Even hardy Hibiscus plants may wilt when overwatered.
If too much water is in the soil, the roots won’t get enough oxygen. This means that your plant will suffer and won’t be able to absorb vital nutrients.
If the top leaves of your Hibiscus are becoming pale and veiny, this could also be a sign that it’s not getting enough oxygen.
Other signs that you might be overwatering your Hibiscus include oedema and yellow leaves.
If the soil is dry when you test it, then most likely, your hibiscus is wilting because of under-watering.
Slow growth and an absence of blooms are other tell-tale signs of underwatered hibiscus plants.
But it’s not always easy to tell if you’re giving your Hibiscus enough water.
Sometimes, particularly in summer, the topsoil may feel dry while the deeper soil is still damp.
These hot, damp conditions can leave your plant vulnerable to Wilt Disease.
If your Hibiscus is damp at the bottom of the pot then just water it lightly, giving it just enough water to wet the top layer.
To find out if your Hibiscus is getting exactly the right amount of water, then invest in a humidity meter.
This probing device gives you an instant reading of the humidity levels in all parts of the soil.
When it comes to watering your Hibiscus, you must stick to a seasonal schedule. Always water more in the summer and less in the winter.
Wilt disease is also known as root rot, but technically, it’s not rotting.
It’s a fungal disease.
The fungus grows in the soil, invades your plant via the roots, and disrupts the capillary system. Thus, your plant can’t absorb water and nutrients.
Unlike other Hibiscus diseases, root rot doesn’t turn the leaves of the Hibiscus yellow. Instead, they will turn a dark brown or black color.
If your plant has root rot, it will be drastically affected, not just its individual branches.
It may also start to lose its lower leaves.
Once your plant has started showing wilt disease symptoms, you must act quickly. If you leave it untreated, root rot can be catastrophic.
Helping your Hibiscus to overcome root rot isn’t an easy task.
For the best results, you should give your plant a bare root wash.
This is a delicate process where you need to expose your plant’s roots. So, you must do it in a shady place, away from direct sunlight.
For a root wash, remove the plant from its pot, shaking away loose earth from the roots. Then, you should be able to see exactly what parts are affected.
Using clippers, you need to remove the rotted roots while ensuring you disinfect the clippers after each cut. This will prevent cross-contamination.
If you discover rot under the main trunk of your Hibiscus, unfortunately, this is bad news.
At this stage, the rot has gone too far, and the chance of your plant recovering is slim.
After removing the rotted roots, you should gently wash the remaining ones. Do this with a 10 percent bleach solution, and never use detergent to wash the roots.
Finally, make sure that the roots are mostly dry before you re-pot the plant. And most importantly, to prevent reinfection, use fresh soil and a sanitized pot.
If only certain branches on your hibiscus are wilting, this is a sure sign of dieback disease.
Dieback disease is another type of fungal infection. And, compared with the Wilt Disease, you’ll find it on individual branches of the Hibiscus, as opposed to the whole plant.
It occurs when the branch or trunk of the plant has been damaged. This injury makes an opening for an invasion of fungus and bacteria.
If your plant has a dieback disease, then the tips of the branch will turn black. Unlike with wilt disease, the tips remain green.
Luckily, treating your Hibiscus for dieback is pretty simple. And chances are that your plant will make a full recovery.
To treat dieback disease, check the stem below the affected area to find the source of the infection. You should be able to see the bad parts clearly.
Then, you should cut off the whole affected branch from the stem. Make sure that you remove all of the unhealthy parts.
To help your plant recover, apply a graft to the stem from which you’ve cut the branch.
Environmental factors such as heat and cold sometimes cause your Hibiscus to wilt.
In cold temperatures, the tropical Hibiscus may wilt due to cold shock. This is when the plant has gone into shock because the temperature is too cold.
Move the plant to a sunnier or more protected spot for cold shock. In extremely cold conditions, bring the plant inside and provide it with heat and humidity.
Hibiscus loves the sun. But sometimes, too much can cause it to become dehydrated and wilted. If you think your hibiscus is getting too much sun, give it shade.
You could do this by moving it to another bright area in the garden. You can also provide it with a temporary cover, such as a parasol.
Make sure, though, that you water your hibiscus more regularly in the summer, especially if it’s potted.
Sometimes, if a Hibiscus plant has become overwhelmed by bugs or pests, it may also be wilting.
When pests invade your plant, they slowly destroy it by eating away at it. They demolish leaves and flowers and spread diseases around.
Wilting will be one of the last signs of a pest infestation on your Hibiscus. More common signs of an infestation include yellowing leaves and stunted growth.
When it comes to effectively treating pests, it’s vital to identify the one you’re dealing with first. A good way to do this is with a magnifier.
Once you’ve identified the pest, then choose your preferred treatment method. There’s a huge range of organic and synthetic pest control options to choose from.
Chemical control is usually more effective at treating pests. But some gardeners prefer using gentler, organic methods on their plants.
Prevention is Better than Cure
When it comes to Hibiscus plants and wilting, prevention is most certainly better than cure.
As we’ve discovered, giving your plants the right amount of water is the best way to prevent wilting. But there are also other things you can do too.
To keep your Hibiscus radiant and disease-free, you should maintain it regularly and practice good hygiene.
You can do this by removing dead flowers and pruning broken branches often. Also, be sure to keep pots clean from fallen leaves and debris.
In the dry season, spray your Hibiscus with water twice a month. This will hydrate it and wash away dust and pests.
When it comes to pruning, be sure to disinfect your pruning shears between plants. This will keep your clippers clean and prevent any cross-contamination.
Hibiscus plants need lots of drainage! So make sure that the pot has lots of drainage holes to address the plant’s needs.
Consider re-potting your plant if the roots are clogging the holes up.
Even though Hibiscus loves water, you should never leave it soaking in a tray.
Frequently Asked Questions about a Wilting Hibiscus
Can I save a wilting Hibiscus?
Usually, it’s pretty easy to save a wilting Hibiscus by checking and readjusting its humidity levels. However, if your Hibiscus has a disease such as root rot, then saving it might be more difficult.
Should I re-pot a wilting Hibiscus?
Not necessarily. You should only re-pot a wilting Hibiscus if you need to clean its roots in the case of wilt disease. In all other cases, you should never re-pot a wilting Hibiscus.
What’s the most common cause of wilting in Hibiscus?
The most common cause of wilting in Hibiscus is either over or under-watering it. This is why your watering routine should be the first thing you check when it comes to a wilting Hibiscus.
Daniel has been a plant enthusiast for over 20 years. He owns hundreds of houseplants and prepares for the chili growing seasons yearly with great anticipation. His favorite plants are plant species in the Araceae family, such as Monstera, Philodendron, and Anthurium. He also loves gardening and is growing hot peppers, tomatoes, and many more vegetables.