Hibiscus leaves turning white can either be a cause of concern like a fungal infection or something more harmless like a sunburn. Find out how to get to the root of the problem in this complete guide given below.
Also, learn how to treat Hibiscus leaves that have turned white using natural remedies.
Why Are Your Hibiscus Leaves Turning White?
The main causes behind leaves on Hibiscus turning white are fungal infections, sunburn, and pest attacks. Hibiscus leaves turning white is a common occurrence in these houseplants.
Normally, the Hibiscus plants have dark-green heart-shaped leaves with serrated edges, so their leaves turning white is usually an indication of disease or pest attack.
Find out about these reasons in detail below.
– Powdery Mildew
Powdery mildew is a fungal infection that starts off harmless but leads to severe leaf fall if left untreated.
– How to Spot a Mildew Infection
A powdery mildew infection will produce lots of white spots on hibiscus leaves. These can be seen mostly on the upper side of the leaves. Unless you look closely, these white spots will appear all merged up and the leaves will look like they have a layer of white, hair-like substance on them.
These spots might also start appearing on the stem of the hibiscus plant in advanced stages. In severe cases, your entire leaves will become shrouded by the white fungus on hibiscus and will start falling off one by one.
– What Causes Powdery Mildew?
When the soil of the hibiscus plant is kept moist either due to overwatering or poor drainage, it can lead to the development of powdery mildew infection.
The hibiscus plant needs 1 to 2 inches of water per week. In hot weather conditions, you will need to water them on an almost daily basis, but it is just as easy to overwater them. Take care to allow the topsoil to become dry first before watering again.
– Poor Drainage of the Soil
Your soil should have adequate drainage so that all the excess water flows through it and then drains out. Retention of excess moisture will turn out to be fertile ground for the fungus. Poor drainage can also be due to your pot not having a proper drainage hole.
– Infection From Other Plants
Many times the mildew infection is transferred from one infected plant to another through gardening tools that have not been sterilized or disinfected. Make sure to always clean your tools prior to use on any plant.
Mealybugs are the insects most likely to attack your Hibiscus plant when it is not pruned regularly. They will suck the sap out of your plant, eventually weakening it and causing its death over time.
– How to Spot a Mealybug Infestation
Mealybugs will leave a type of white stuff on hibiscus leaves. This stuff is usually soft and cotton-like and it appears on both the stems and leaves. Mealybugs also secrete honeydew, due to which this white residue will be sticky to the touch.
Using a magnifying glass, you will be able to spot the mealybugs themselves. These bugs will appear as flat and oval insects moving about the surface of your plant.
Sometimes what appears to be white spots on your Hibiscus plant might actually be whiteflies. These are white-colored, rounded insects that attack their host plant, sucking and feeding on it. If you shake the branches of the plant, they will fly off for the time being but come back later.
They also produce a sticky, nectar-like substance that attracts black mold to form on the surface of the leaves. You will have to spray these whiteflies with a strong insecticide to get rid of them.
If you have been growing your Hibiscus plants indoors for all of their lives, then suddenly transferring them outdoors will make them suffer severe sunburns. This might happen even if you transfer them from a shaded area to one that is near a window.
Because these plants are not used to direct sunlight, chlorophyll will undergo damage, and consequently, you will see the affected Hibiscus leaves turn white.
Whether it is the presence of white tips on Hibiscus leaves or the entire leaf turning white, you can treat it by taking steps to get rid of powdery mildew and pests. Leaves that are turning white due to sunburn will fall off on their own eventually.
– Treat Powdery Mildew
Here are the steps you can do to treat this fungal disease.
– Prune Affected Leaves
The most important thing to do first is to get rid of the affected leaves. Take sharp pruning scissors to cut these leaves off. Don’t forget to properly wash and sterilize these scissors afterward. Otherwise, you risk spreading this infection to other plants.
If a lot of leaves are affected by this Hibiscus disease then only remove those that are affected most severely. This is because in this case, removing the majority of the leaves will only send your plant into a state of shock.
– Use Neem Oil
Did you know that neem oil is a natural antifungal agent that works wonders against powdery mildew? Yes, buy a bottle of neem oil and apply it on the affected leaves daily using a cotton pad. After a couple of weeks, you should be able to see a significant improvement.
– Make a Water and Milk Solution
This DIY method is another great alternative. Mix one part milk with three parts water to make a solution that you then spray your plant with. It might take several weeks but you will definitely see some improvement in the condition of your plant.
– Use Baking Soda
Take a gallon of water and add one tablespoon baking soda and one tablespoon dishwashing soap to it. Washing your plant with it every other day will get rid of the fungus.
– Use Fungicide Spray
Remember, if all else fails, you can always get a potent fungicide from the market and use it to treat your Hibiscus plant for powdery mildew.
– Get Rid of Mealybugs
Remove mealybugs from your Hibiscus plant by using either alcohol with water, neem oil or pesticide. Also, quarantine the affected plant from others. Read on to learn more about getting rid of mealybugs below.
– Isolate the Plant
The first thing you need to do is to isolate this plant away from the rest of your collection. Otherwise, the mealybugs will jump from one plant to another and you will have a bigger problem at hand than before.
– Wash With Alcohol and Water
Combine one part alcohol and three parts of water and add a bit of dish soap to it. Use this mixture to thoroughly wash your plant. Repeat this whole thing after two or three days until you get rid of all the mealybugs.
– Apply Neem Oil
Neem oil seems to work effectively at killing mealybugs. Simply dab a piece of cotton with a couple of drops of neem oil and then apply it to the white spots on the leaves.
Also, apply oil to the colonies where these pests are present in large numbers. The oil will suffocate and kill them. You can purchase neem oil easily from any shop these days.
– Apply Pesticide
If all else fails, you can apply pesticides to your plant to get rid of the annoying mealybugs. We always keep pesticides as a last resort because they contain harsh chemicals that are not the best for your plant. Before spraying, water your plant generously to save it from being unnecessarily burnt.
– Gradually Acclimatize To Direct Sunlight
When moving this plant from a shaded location to one with direct sunlight, do so gradually. Start by putting the plant under direct sunlight for only one hour a day and then gradually move this time up.
Even if your plant does end up becoming sunburnt with white leaves, don’t worry. These leaves will eventually be shed off and replaced with new leaves that will be capable of tolerating direct sunlight.
After reading this complete guide, you now know the top reasons why Hibiscus leaves turn white. Below is a quick recap of all that we have learned so far:
- The number one reason why Hibiscus leaves turn white is due to a fungal infection called powdery mildew. Powdery mildew might cause white spots to form on the leaves, sometimes covering the whole plant.
- The second reason why your Hibiscus plant leaves might be turning yellow can be due to pest attacks by mealybugs.
- Another common reason is when a plant grown indoors is suddenly transferred outside under direct sunlight without hardening.
- Powdery mildew is caused either by overwatering the plant or as a result of poor drainage of the soil and the pot. Take steps to fix these factors first.
- You can treat powdery mildew by using baking soda, water, milk, neem oil or a potent fungicide. Get rid of mealybugs by using insecticide, neem oil, or water mixed with alcohol.
We hope the next time you see your Hibiscus leaves turning white, you’ll have a pretty clear idea of what to do in order to save it.
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