The Q&A Archives: Hibiscus Damage

Question: A freeze got my hibiscus bushes. Will they come back, and how should I treat them?

Answer: Hibiscus are tropical plants so they're quite susceptible to damage if temperatures drop below 40F. A quick overnight freeze will kill the leaves and turn them to mush. A prolonged freeze can kill the stems. A hard freeze may even kill the plant down to the ground. Even then, the roots may have survived and may sprout new stems and foliage.

You'll need to assess the extent of the damage before you take any action. Sometimes the best thing to do is wait to see how the plant recovers on its own. Or, you can proceed as follows: If just the leaves are mushy, pull them off the plant, but leave the stems alone. New leaves may very well appear. If the stems are wilted and mushy, prune them off - even if that means taking them all the way to ground level, but leave any questionable stems alone because they may recover. If you know for a fact that the leaves and stems are all damaged beyond repair, cut the plant down to soil level and hope that the roots came through the freeze undamaged.

With any luck at all your hibiscus will recover. Hope it does!

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