Ask a Question forum→Help with Hibiscus

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Name: Shayla Husmann
Wyoming, Ia (Zone 5a)
Progress Not Perfection!
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ShaylaHusmann
Oct 23, 2021 9:34 AM CST
I'm having trouble with my hibiscuses, all the leaves are falling off & turning yellow & I don't know why. I had little black bugs on them a few weeks ago so I used some spray stuff & then used water, a few drops of dishsoap & a little bit of cooking oil & sprayed it down. I don't think that's it but I have no idea. I will add images next

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ElPolloDiablo
Oct 23, 2021 9:40 AM CST
Are these indoors tropical hibis or "outside" hibis (Rose of Sharon, H. moscheutos etc)?

I live in a warmer areas than you do and all my outside hibis are feeling the change of season, with a couple being almost dormant by now.
If these are inside plants though, I fear the homemade Internet remedy you applied made things much worse than those bugs (aphids?) did.
The Saviour.
Name: Shayla Husmann
Wyoming, Ia (Zone 5a)
Progress Not Perfection!
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ShaylaHusmann
Oct 23, 2021 9:44 AM CST
Tropical, I've had them inside & have grow lights for them
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Name: Shayla Husmann
Wyoming, Ia (Zone 5a)
Progress Not Perfection!
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ShaylaHusmann
Oct 23, 2021 9:45 AM CST
They were outside but brought them in a few weeks ago. I was gone all week tho, do you think it could be from under watering while I was gone? Usually I put these stake things in them but they were wet when I left & it seemed to be too much with them now that they aren't outside in the heat so I watered them when I left & they were dry when I got back & kind of wilted

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[Last edited by ShaylaHusmann - Oct 23, 2021 9:49 AM (+)]
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ElPolloDiablo
Oct 23, 2021 11:31 PM CST
What grow lights are you using and what's the temperature in the room where you are keeping them?

My mother spent years (and a lot of money) on shoebackplant to try and keep them alive over the Winter. Generally speaking you need top quality grow lights and a very high temperature indoors. Anything below 65°F and shoeblackplant will start having yellow leaves and anything below 60°F and they will drop leaves like crazy: these are true tropicals. I think nowadays the best solution to overwinter them would be a decent quality grow tent or a very hot room with positively no drafts.

There's another subtler thing about shoeblackplant: these days over 90% of those you find for sale are propagated through tissue culture. My mother found these plants to be more fragile than those propagated through cuttings, grafting and seed, possibly because these are new showy cultivars meant to be grown as annuals. These tissue-propagated shoeblackplant have serious issues restarting if they drop most of their leaves even if put in optimal conditions.
The Saviour.
Name: Shayla Husmann
Wyoming, Ia (Zone 5a)
Progress Not Perfection!
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ShaylaHusmann
Oct 24, 2021 2:23 AM CST
I have Honeywell LED shop lights 5000 lumens. I have 2 of them, I'll take a pic in the morning of them. It's probably close to 70ish but I have all my plants just off the front door. I moved them further from it today tho. The lights put off a little heat but not much. I've heard (on YouTube) potash will work wonders for them, is that true? I also bought some super-thrive should I use that or could that shock them or hurt them more at this point?

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ElPolloDiablo
Oct 24, 2021 3:57 AM CST
Potassium is a big help for blooming: your plants don't really need much fertilizer now so you can get away with some standard liquid fertilizer every 40-50 days over the Winter. A nitrogen-free (PK) fertilizer during growing season will do wonders for big showy flowers but now is useless.

I really think your problem is a combination of several stresses: the homemade remedy you applied for aphids, the environmental shock when you brought the plants inside and maybe a bit of drought damage. The best thing to do now is tor provide optimum conditions to overwinter the plants. Just remember cold air drafts from doors can be felt by some plants from VERY far away: I've learned this lesson the hard way with Peace lilies.

Now, lights. There are all sorts of theories and tests out there about light quality but personally I believe we should always use specific grow lights whenever possible, and good brands at that. GE and Feit are usually options that won't break the bank.
The Saviour.
Name: Shayla Husmann
Wyoming, Ia (Zone 5a)
Progress Not Perfection!
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ShaylaHusmann
Oct 24, 2021 10:21 AM CST
Ok thank you so much! You have been a huge help. I appreciate it. I'm gonna move everything further from the door. I also just got a sansi grow light I will put all of them around the light
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West Central Minnesota (Zone 4a)
Rubi
Oct 24, 2021 12:04 PM CST
The hibiscus will drop their leaves when there is a big change in environment like bringing them indoors. The bugs aren't helping either. Don't worry. The leaves will come back. My tropical hibiscus thrive just fine indoors with nighttime temps down in the mid 50s. I set the heat at 64 during the day. They bloom in the winter even without artificial light.

I would prune yours and let them rest for a month before you start blasting them with artificial light. Pruning will help control the bugs because they love to hide right in the growing tips. Once you prune them, put them in the bathtub and wash the bugs off two or three times a day for a week or so. Last winter I found that misting the plants every few days helped control the bugs. Once they start getting new growth near the pruned ends, then I'd get them in your sunniest window and add the artificial light.
Name: Vera
ON CA (Zone 5b)
Birds Butterflies Cat Lover Frogs and Toads Garden Ideas: Level 1
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Serpent
Oct 24, 2021 5:03 PM CST
Hey, Rubi! That's exactly what I do.
Lots of leaves drop in the fall, but if you look closely, new little ones are already forming to take their place. Fall is the best pruning time: they grow long, gawky shoots outside in summer and need their shrub-shape restored. Most winters, we have a little infestation of flea beetle or black fly. They generally clean up with one application of soap and two showers. (Hibi's grown too heavy to lug to the shower anymore, so I have to bring in a plastic sheet and spritzer. The orange and umbrella are even bigger. *sigh*)
Behind every opportunity is a disaster in waiting.
Name: Shayla Husmann
Wyoming, Ia (Zone 5a)
Progress Not Perfection!
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ShaylaHusmann
Oct 29, 2021 12:11 AM CST
Yes they are very tall & leggy, most of the leaves have turned yellow & dropped & I'm getting really worried about them. They are my babies. I'm nervous to prune too much off. Here are some updated pics, Rubi or Serpent could you please help with how many or which branches to prune & approx how much off of them? Please! Plant #1
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Name: Shayla Husmann
Wyoming, Ia (Zone 5a)
Progress Not Perfection!
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ShaylaHusmann
Oct 29, 2021 12:14 AM CST
Hibiscus #2
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Name: Shayla Husmann
Wyoming, Ia (Zone 5a)
Progress Not Perfection!
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ShaylaHusmann
Oct 29, 2021 12:16 AM CST
Hibiscus #3
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Name: Shayla Husmann
Wyoming, Ia (Zone 5a)
Progress Not Perfection!
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ShaylaHusmann
Oct 29, 2021 12:20 AM CST
Hibiscus #4
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ElPolloDiablo
Oct 29, 2021 6:56 AM CST
Yeah, typical stress damage when hibis are brought inside for the Winter: I've seen it every Winter in my childhood when my mother was bringing hers inside.
Not really much you can do right now but keep the soil slightly moist (DO NOT overwater!), avoid cold drafts and pray for the best. Some hibis my mother had went through this cycle for a dozen years or more, so don't worry too much if they drop leaves like crazy and look terrible.

On the other hand unless you can supply an optimal growing environment you will probably have to wait until next Spring to see which ones survived unscathed. Growing hibis, even hardy ones, is a very seasonal game and now we are entering the off season.
The Saviour.
PNW/SW WA State (Zone 8b)
Hybridizer Brugmansias Region: Pacific Northwest Pollen collector Tropicals Greenhouse
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karmahappytoes
Oct 29, 2021 8:20 AM CST
Please folks that grow these, strip the leaves off the plant when you bring them in! Less mess and insects.
We put them in the garage for a week when we strip, spray and do not repot until spring as you will activate
growth. They will need light and warmth inside and the leaves will grow back.

Again here is our 22 year old one in my sewing room.


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The leaves will be thinner than what they are outside, don't panic.

Name: Anna Z.
Monroe, WI
Charter ATP Member Greenhouse Cat Lover Raises cows Region: Wisconsin
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AnnaZ
Oct 29, 2021 5:30 PM CST
Shayla, you'd probably have a stroke if you saw how far I'd cut those back. Whistling Mine are bigger (and not tree standards, mine are bushes), I take the hedge trimmers to them. Rolling on the floor laughing
Name: Vera
ON CA (Zone 5b)
Birds Butterflies Cat Lover Frogs and Toads Garden Ideas: Level 1
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Serpent
Oct 29, 2021 7:05 PM CST
ShaylaHusmann said:Yes they are very tall & leggy, most of the leaves have turned yellow & dropped & I'm getting really worried about them. They are my babies. I'm nervous to prune too much off. Here are some updated pics, Rubi or Serpent could you please help with how many or which branches to prune & approx how much off of them?

It looks as if you want them all tree shaped - braided trunks? So you're looking for a nice rounded top. I don't think any of those need very much cut off - maybe #4 has a couple of branches sticking out too far. But you do probably want to cut them back to just above a strong shoot to encourage branching.
I was going to make some pictures of pruning today, but discovered buds on two of the longest branches, so I'll wait till it's finished blooming. I'll take some close-ups tomorrow, anyway. Seems to be the season for outdoor-indoor plant questions.


Behind every opportunity is a disaster in waiting.
Name: Shayla Husmann
Wyoming, Ia (Zone 5a)
Progress Not Perfection!
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ShaylaHusmann
Nov 3, 2021 12:05 AM CST
What kind of bug is this!?!? I just found it on a leaf of one of my other plants
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