The Q&A Archives: lilac hibiscus getting yellow leaves

Question: About 3 weeks ago we purchased a Monrovia Lilac Hibiscus (#5 patio tree $80). We planted it in the garden near a fence so it gets the morning sun blocked but has direct sun pretty much the rest of the day. We love this tree, but recently the leaves keep turning yellow and falling off. I have had advice from over watering too not enough. Soil seems to drain well. I have soaked it as per instructions until it gets established. It gets a regular watering every other night from an automated sprinkler system. Some web sites indicate it's not wise to move or plant in the spring/summer they usually don't survive? Help? We don't want to lose this expensive beauty!

Answer: Yellowing of leaves can be a natural shedding of the oldest foliage, or can come from a change in environment (transplant stress), or could indicate over- or under-watering. If your plant is putting out new growth (a good sign), you may not have to do anything at all; your plant is in the process of adjusting to its new home. If only the oldest leaves are turning yellow, it's a natural process; if both old and new leaves are yellowing, it might be just the adjustment your plant is making to its new home, or it could indicate water stress. I'd check the soil moisture content by sticking my finger down into the soil near the base of the plant. If it's soggy wet, you'll need to adjust your sprinkler system. In fact, if you can shut down the sprinkler system temporarily and hand water your tree until the roots are established, I'd recommend doing so. That way you can adjust the frequency of watering (every other day sounds excessive). I'd thoroughly soak the root mass with a deep soaking, then wait until the top inch of soil dries out before deeply watering again. Hope this information helps!

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