The Q&A Archives: Hibiscus Dropping Buds and Leaves

Question: I have several hibiscus plants. They did wonderfully on my deck through the summer, but once I brought them indoors they began dropping buds and yellow leaves. What is wrong?

Answer: When plants are abruptly moved from outdoors to indoors (or vice versa) they usually suffer from the change in conditions. Dropping buds and yellowing leaves are common symptoms. It is best to make the move gradual, to help the plant acclimate. Before bringing the plant indoors, examine it for pests, and then gradually begin acclimating it to the lower light levels it will have indoors. Begin by moving it to a shadier location (but do not leave it outside when temperatures drop below about 50F). Then move it indoors to the sunniest spot you have. Keep it out of drafts and keep the humidity around it high if possible.

Even with these precautions, the plant may still suffer from the change in conditions and drop some leaves and buds. Also, it may go into a semi-dormant period where it doesn't bloom, but it will bloom again when conditions are more to its liking. Reduce watering and fertilizing as the plant's growth slows. In spring, reverse the process to reacclimate it to the outdoors. If the yellowing leaves continue, fertilize with a dilute solution, as it may have used up all the nutrients in the container.

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