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Brown Spots On Hibiscus Leaves | Cause and Cure!

If you’ve been a gardener for any amount of time, you know that there’s a lot that can go wrong with your plants. It’s not uncommon to find yourself in the middle of an infestation of something or other.

But did you know that brown spots on hibiscus leaves are one of the most common problems? And did you also know that it’s easy to fix?

Here’s everything you need to know about hibiscus leaves and what goes wrong with them and how you can fix it:

The Hibiscus Leaf: A Little Introduction?

Hibiscus is a highly decorative plant that can be used to add color to your garden. It is also referred to as rose mallow or Hawaiian koki’o.

Brown spots on hibiscus leaves

Hibiscus leaves are called petals and they are usually red, pink, or white in color. The best thing about hibiscus flowers is that they last for a long time after being cut from the plant. 

They can be used as table decorations or to decorate your home with their beautiful colors. Hibiscus plants are known for having sensitive leaves that can be damaged by too much sun, or by the wrong kind of fertilizer.

Here are some of the most common causes of yellow and brown spots on hibiscus leaves and a few tips for how to prevent them from happening again.

Why do hibiscus leaves develop brown spots?

Brown spots on hibiscus leaves

Although hibiscus is generally easy to grow and care for, you may notice brown spots developing on the leaves of your hibiscus plants. The brown spots usually appear on the leaves, but in some cases, they can be found on the buds or flowers as well.  

Here are the causes of Hibiscus leaf spot disease these unsightly spots appear on the plant.

Improper watering

One cause of brown spots on hibiscus leaves is improper watering. Improper watering can make your hibiscus plant more susceptible to leaf spot disease. 

Hibiscus plants need at least 1 inch of water per week during the growing season; however, if you over-water them, this can lead to root rot and subsequent leaf spotting. 

If you notice small yellow and brown spots on your hibiscus leaves, check the soil around its base for signs of wilting or collapsed stems before watering again. 

If the soil is dry, water thoroughly until water runs freely from the drainage holes at the bottom of each pot or container; allow excess water to drain out completely before returning your plant back indoors or under cover outdoors.

You should allow the top inch of soil to dry out before watering again. Water your hibiscus plant deeply at least once a week during hot weather or when it is under stress from lack of rainfall. Never let the soil completely dry out because this can damage the roots and lead to root rot.

Overwatering causes yellowing of the leaves on your hibiscus plant due to an excess of nutrients in the soil. The yellowing is caused by too much nitrogen in the soil, which causes chlorosis (a condition where green leaves turn yellow). 


Hibiscus leaf problems occur when over-fertilized. The spots are caused by iron deficiency. Iron is an essential nutrient that helps the plant produce chlorophyll and also helps in photosynthesis. 

Brown spots on hibiscus leaves

If the hibiscus has too much iron, it will not be able to absorb enough of this important mineral and it will develop spots on its leaves.

If your hibiscus is growing in a container, it may have been over-fertilized with a water-soluble fertilizer mixed at too high rate or applied more frequently than recommended. 

If you are using a slow-release fertilizer, make sure that you are applying it at least every three months and not more than once per month.

You can also try adding some compost or worm castings to your soil if you’re growing your hibiscus indoors in pots or planters. 

This should help solve the problem within several weeks as long as you don’t overdo it with additional fertilizers during this time period.

Related: The Complete Guide to Using Lawn Fertilizer

Pest damage

The most common pest damage on hibiscus leaves occurs when aphids attack the plant. Aphids are tiny insects that feed on the sap within the veins of the leaves. 

Brown spots on hibiscus leaves

The first symptom of aphid damage on your hibiscus plant is usually small brown spots on the surface of the leaf. As time goes by, these spots will grow larger and more numerous until they cover most of the leaf’s surface area.

Aphids secrete a sticky substance called honeydew that covers leaves and makes them sticky so they attract ants. Ants love honeydew and will protect aphids from predators in return for it. 

This relationship between ants and aphids is called mutualism because both species benefit from it. 

However, this relationship can cause problems for hibiscus plants if it is left unchecked because aphids may damage the plant by sucking out its juices until the leaves turn brown and die off completely!

Changes in temperature and humidity. 

Brown spots can also appear as a result of plant stress caused by environmental factors such as too much wind or sun exposure. The hibiscus is a tropical plant, so it does best when the temperature and humidity are high.

If the environment changes suddenly, the plant may not be able to adjust quickly enough. This can lead to leaf yellowing and brown spots on new growth.

Too much sunlight

Hibiscus plants need at least six hours of sunlight per day, but they may not tolerate more than eight hours without developing brown spots on their leaves. If you live in a warm climate, your hibiscus may be getting too much sun during the summer months when temperatures are high and humidity levels are low.

Brown spots on hibiscus leaves | cause and cure!

Move it to a shadier spot if possible or place a shade cloth over it during the hottest part of the day if you don’t want to move it altogether.

The easiest way to remedy this issue is to move your hibiscus plant indoors during the winter months when temperatures drop below 50 degrees Fahrenheit at night or lower than 90 degrees Fahrenheit during the day. 

If moving your hibiscus indoors is not an option, consider covering it with shade cloth until temperatures warm up again in the springtime.

Dry Air

Hibiscus leaves often develop brown spots when they have been exposed to cold temperatures or windy conditions during their growing season. This can happen during the winter months when temperatures drop below 50 degrees Fahrenheit (10 Celsius). 

Dry air is a common cause of brown spots on hibiscus leaves because it can lead to dehydration in the plant. 

What You Can Do To Prevent Brown Spots On Hibiscus Leaves

The good news is that there are a few simple steps you can take to ensure that your plants stay strong and healthy. And the great news is that all of these steps won’t cost you anything!

Here are some tips for preventing brown spots on hibiscus leaves:


Hibiscus plants have shallow root systems and need very little water. Overwatering can cause them to develop brown spots on their leaves, as well as other problems like rotting roots. So be sure not to give them too much water!

Brown spots on hibiscus leaves | cause and cure!

Moreover, If your plant gets too much water, it may develop white powdery mildew. This looks like a layer of white powder on the surface of the leaf, which may also have small black dots in it. If this happens, there’s nothing you can do except wait for the weather conditions to change so it stops raining so much!

  • Hibiscus plants like water, but not too much!

If the soil around the plant becomes too wet and soggy, then it’s easy for fungus and bacteria to spread through the roots and leaves. So make sure that your soil stays moist but not wet when watering your plants.

  • Water at night rather than during the day

Fungal spores can live in the sunlight and will grow more quickly during the day than at night, so it’s best if you avoid watering during daylight hours as much as possible.

Changes in temperature and humidity

Hibiscus plants are tropical plants that will not tolerate cold temperatures. The best time to bring hibiscus plants indoors is in the late summer or early fall when it is still warm outside but cooler than the high temperatures of summer.

Hibiscus plants can be placed just about anywhere in the house as long as they receive the right amount of sunlight and fresh air. 

The best place for them would be a south-facing window that gets lots of sunshine during the day and warmer temperatures from the sun at night. 

Hibiscus plants also like lots of humidity, so placing them near a humidifier or running water can help keep them happy and healthy.

If your hibiscus plant has brown spots on its leaves, you may want to move it outdoors where it will get more natural sunlight or increase its exposure to artificial light indoors if necessary.

Hibiscus care guide

Although hibiscus is generally easy to grow, it is important to follow a few simple steps to ensure the best results:

Plant your hibiscus in well-draining soil

Hibiscus grows best in sandy or clay soils that drain well. If your soil is heavy or compacted, add compost and organic matter to improve drainage before planting your hibiscus.


The best time to water your hibiscus is early in the morning so that it has time to dry out before nightfall, which reduces disease and mold problems on the plant’s leaves and flowers.

Brown spots on hibiscus leaves | cause and cure!

Water deeply enough so that water penetrates at least 6 inches into the soil; don’t just sprinkle the surface of the soil with water because this encourages shallow root growth on new plants and increases the chance of drought stress later on when soil moisture is limited by hot temperatures or drought conditions

Water your hibiscus regularly to keep it from becoming dehydrated. The soil should never completely dry out between watering. Water when the top inch of soil feels dry to the touch, but don’t wait too long between watering sessions because this will promote root rot and other fungal infections that can further damage your hibiscus plants.

Similarly, do not overwater your plants or allow standing water under them because this will also promote root rot and other fungal infections that can further damage your hibiscus plants.

Choose the right variety

It is important to choose a variety that is suited for your climate. If you live in a colder area, choose varieties that have been bred for cold tolerance. In warmer areas, choose varieties bred for heat tolerance.

Feed plants regularly

Hibiscus needs regular feeding with an organic fertilizer such as fish emulsion or compost tea every two weeks during the growing season (March-October). Apply fertilizer when the plant is actively growing but not during times of stress such as hot weather or drought conditions. But do not overfeed your plant. Overfeeding can cause nutrient burn which will discolor leaves and may even kill the plant if it occurs often enough!

Light requirements:

Hibiscus grows best in full sun but will tolerate partial shade. In hot climates, they should be planted in a location where they receive morning sun and afternoon shade. In cool-summer regions, they can be planted in full sun all year long.

Pest control

Aphids can be controlled with insecticidal soap or neem oil spray. Spider mites can be killed by removing infested leaves and spraying the plant with water from the hose every few days until they are gone.

Brown spots on hibiscus leaves | cause and cure!

Mealybugs will often disappear if you dust them with a systemic insecticide that is absorbed through the roots of your hibiscus plant.

Thrips can also be controlled by dusting them with an insecticide that is absorbed through the roots of your hibiscus plant.

Why are brown spots often accompanied by yellow leaves?

The yellow leaves are a sign that your plant is under stress. The yellowing usually starts at the tips of the leaves, with small patches of chlorophyll breaking down and giving the leaves a faded appearance. The yellowing often spreads to other areas of the leaf as the disease progresses.

If you have just planted your tree or shrub, chances are it has been stressed by transplanting. hibiscus are sensitive to root disturbance, so they may not have recovered from their recent move before they were attacked by this hibiscus leaf spot disease.

In addition, most container-grown plants start out in a medium that does not contain enough nutrients for healthy growth once they are transplanted into the ground or another container. 


All in all, the best way to treat yellow and brown spots on hibiscus leaves is to identify the underlying cause and take steps to fix it. Ensure that your plant has adequate sun and water, but not too much of either; make sure that it doesn’t need repotting, or is over-fertilized, and consider adding a bit of fertilizer to your water next time you give your plant some water. Otherwise, make sure that something else isn’t causing the hibiscus leaf problems, like pests or disease.

Ian richardson

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