Is your hibiscus not blooming and you have no idea why? Well, there are many reasons why this is happening.
First, it could be that your soil is not well-drained or, maybe your plant is drought-stressed due to bad watering habits. Also, you might be growing the wrong species for your climate thus, weather changes are affecting your plant.
Did you also know that pruning can as well lead to delayed flowering and sometimes no blooms at all?
The article you are about to read provides this and much more information on why there are no flowers on your plant.
Read through it and see what’s wrong with your hibiscus flower and how to correct the problem. And if you want to learn more, here's an article with 5 Actionable Tips to help you.
8. Reasons for Bud Drop in Hibiscus Plant
1. Watering Problems
Hibiscus flowers prefer lots of water. Therefore, water your plant daily during the first week after planting and, reduce the frequency to once every 2 to 3 days in the second week.
Thereafter, water it twice a week when there is no rainfall and daily (maybe twice a day) when the weather becomes hot and dry.
This plant also needs the most amount of water in mid to late summer when it’s in the blooming stage. With container-grown ones requiring 3 to 4 watering sessions per week at the start of summer and daily as the end of summer approaches.
However, make sure that the soil remains moist but not soggy. Also, don’t allow the soil to dry out completely before you water your plant.
Pro Tip: The best way to check if your plant needs water is by sticking your finger in the soil and feel if it’s dry.
2. Excess Nitrogen
When applied in excess, nitrogen can prevent your hibiscus from blooming.
How’s that so?
First and foremost, nitrogen is responsible for the vegetative growth in plants so, if you don’t moderate its application, your plant will produce more foliage at the expense of blossoms.
Secondly, a lot of nitrogen increases the chances of pests/insects invading your plant. As you read through this article, you will find that pests/insects cause damage as they suck sap from the plant which might result in bud drop.
It’s a fact that hibiscus is a heavy feeder but, applying fertilizer isn’t the only way to go. Add well-rotted manure or organic compost to improve the soil and half-strength general liquid fertilizer once a month in spring and summer.
This way, you can provide the plant with the required nutrients without affecting its flowering.
Note: Always read and follow the instructions on the leaflet.
3. Too much Phosphorus
Although phosphorus is an important ingredient in bloom booster fertilizers, when applied in excess it can affect blossom formation in the hibiscus plant.
A buildup of this nutrient in the soil hinders the plant’s ability to absorb other essential nutrients. This harms plant processes such as flowering and, it can lead to plant death.
So, always use a well-balanced fertilizer (with an even ratio of nitrogen phosphorus and, potassium). In addition to this, add well-rotted manure to avoid excessive use of fertilizer as you improve soil fertility.
4. Poorly-drained soils
Even though hibiscus requires moist soil, the plant can’t tolerate mushy soil/ground. The soil’s drainage should hence be your priority otherwise; the plant won’t flower.
For example; heavy soil like clay becomes easily saturated with water around the plant’s roots and the plant becomes stressed. This reduces the chances that your plant will flower. It also exposes your plant to fungal infections such as root rot leading to the plant’s death.
In this case (poor drainage), look for ways to improve drainage while scaling back on watering to allow the soil around the roots to dry.
Alternatively, transplant the plant into a container (if it’s small) or, in an area with well-draining soil. Also, if your garden is low lying and mushy, raised beds and pots work well as they have several drainage options and, you can always customize on soil properties.
5. Too much Shade
Hibiscus plants are indigenous to the humid and sunny subtropical and tropical regions of Asia. In these regions, these plants produce blossoms under warm and full sun conditions.
It is hence paramount to expose your hibiscus (whether hardy or tropical) to at least 6 to 8 hours of full sun for it to flower.
Under low light conditions like indoors or in a shady area of the garden, the plant doesn’t have enough energy to produce blooms in summer. For this reason, move your potted hibiscus to a sunny space or cut back any vegetation that’s bringing shade to the garden.
Pro Tip: Tropical varieties can grow and bloom indoors in a sunny window.
6. Temperature Fluctuation
As stated in the previous point on light requirements, hibiscus plants are indigenous to subtropical and tropical regions in Asia. They grow best in warm, humid, and sunny weather conditions.
The most common types of hibiscus grown by a majority of gardeners are the Hardy hibiscus (Hibiscus spp.) and the Tropical hibiscus (Hibiscus rosa-sinensis).
Hardy hibiscus flowers easily in a wide range of temperatures while tropical ones are hardy in USDA Zones 9-11 and require warmer and humid conditions and don’t tolerate freezing temperatures. So, if you have a tropical hibiscus, it might tricky to get it to flower outside its typical climate.
Pro Tip: Always check and select the appropriate hibiscus species for your climate zone before you purchase one for easier blooming.
7. Wrong Time to Prune
The right time to prune a hibiscus plant is at the end of the season soon after flowering at around September/ October.
Using a pruning shear, light-prune the plant so that the new growth can support the flowers in spring. Avoid pruning the plant in its growing stage/early in spring as this might lead to delayed flowering or the flower buds won’t open at all.
Furthermore, when flowering is delayed, the flowers are most likely to come out in the fall when temperatures are cool. This forces the flower to wild and drops much quicker than in summer.
8. Attack by pests
The Hibiscus plant is prone to several insect pests that cause damages leading to blossoms fall.
These bugs include;
Whiteflies are small winged insects that mostly feed on the underside of the plant leaves. Like aphids and mealybugs, these bugs suck sap from the plant leaves leaving behind honeydew (a sticky substance).
The honeydew attracts mold and other fungal infections which in turn affect the normal plant processes like photosynthesis. The plant, therefore, does not have enough energy to support bud formation and blooming.
For preventive measures, you need to exercise routine plant checks alongside pruning and general plant hygiene.
When it comes to treatments, there are several ways you can get rid of whiteflies in your garden. For instance, use natural repellants, insecticidal sprays, yellow sticky traps and, many more.
Aphids are small white, black, or green insects very common to the hibiscus plant. These bugs cause damage by sucking the nutrient-rich sap from the plant’s buds and flowers. This makes the plant weak and destroys the buds before they bloom.
Their reproduction is quite fast hence, take immediate action to control the population before it gets out of hand.
For example; Use predators like ladybugs to control the aphid population or use insecticides (preferably organic ones) to get rid of aphids and protect your hibiscus from further damages.
Mealybugs are small, white soft-bodied insects with a waxy cotton-like ball protective substance. They can be found on both the upper and underside of the leaves, the flower buds, and sometimes all over the plant.
Just like aphids, mealybugs feed by sucking sap from the plant thus quickly affecting the overall plant performance. They also spread rapidly thus require urgent action as soon as you identify their presence.
Start by isolating the affected plants from the healthy ones to minimize spread. Then apply other ways to get rid of these bugs such as the use of predatory bugs like lady beetles and wasps.
As you have seen, there are many reasons for your hibiscus not blooming.
Below is a summary of how to ensure that your plant produces and holds its flowers.
- Practice good watering habits
- Use a well-draining soil
- Protect your plant from pest invasion
- Select the correct variety/ species for your locality
- Prune at the right time
- Expose the plant to enough sunlight
- Apply a well-balanced fertilizer