The Q&A Archives: Yellow Leaves On Hibiscus

Question: I brought home two hibiscus plants and put them in large terracotta pots. They did well for a week or two then the leaves began turning yellow and dropping off within a day. I don't want to overwater but it is hot where they are and they tend to droop by noon. Do yellow leaves indicate too much fertilizer or too much water?

Answer: Yellow leaves can be caused by many things including lack of nitrogen, insufficient light, water-logged soil (plant roots need oxygen to thrive), dry soil, or iron deficiency. If the older bottom leaves are yellow, but new growth is green, it's usually a lack of nitrogen. If new leaves are yellow, with green veins, it's usually a lack of iron. (Lack of nitrogen is a more common problem than lack of iron.) Soil should be kept moderately moist (but not wet). Finally, transplant shock or moving from greenhouse conditions to the home environment can contribute to yellowing. If new growth shows up as green, shock might be the problem.

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