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Top 5+ Reasons Behind Hibiscus not Blooming

Hibiscus plants are amazing summer bloomers that return yearly, but sometimes fails altogether due to poor growing conditions.

Hibiscus not blooming or buds falling before blooming may indicate a severe lack of sunlight, nutrient deficiency or over-fertilization, inappropriate watering, and sometimes incorrect pruning.

However, do not worry because these problems are quickly fixable when treated early.

Why is my Hibiscus not Blooming? [Causes & Fixes]

Hibiscus boasts ornamental trumpet-shaped, with five or a couple of petals in various shades including red, blue, pink, orange, purple, yellow or peach, usually from mid to late summer. 

However, they sometimes may fail to bloom altogether or produce small flowers that can be worrying, significantly when growing them for ornamental or harvesting purposes.

There can be many reasons Hibiscus is not blooming or Hibiscus blooms falling off before blooming. 

1. Lack of Sunlight

Hibiscus is a complete sun-loving plant that thrives in direct but dappled sunlight.

Remember, sunlight provides the plant’s energy to create the sugars and other compounds required for flower production.

Moreover, regular direct sunlight will help regulate the plant’s hormonal balance to boost bud development.

Therefore, the lack of sunlight could be the problem preventing your Hibiscus from blooming or producing smaller and less number of buds.

hibiscus bud not blooming
In lack of light, Hibiscus cannot open buds.

Growing them indoors is a big NO-NO, as is shading from nearby trees or structures, as they prevent direct sunlight from reaching the plant.

Sometimes, overcast weather or shorter sunny days are to be blamed if you live in USDA region 5 or below.

Practical Solutions

  • Start with choosing a sunny location such as a patio, south-facing window, or garden with at least 6 hours of direct sunlight.
  • Place the plant in a sunny spot throughout spring and summer and rotate it evenly each week.
  • Remove obstructions like tall companion plants, window mesh, and structures.
  • If you live in a hot climate (USDA 12 or above), provide partial shade during the hot summer to prevent sun scalding and excess transpiration.
  • Move your plant indoors in winter for longer, darker days to help boost the flowering process in spring

2. Nutrient Deficiency

Summer bloomers like Hibiscus can suffer from severe nutrient deficiency and fail to produce blooms altogether.

The lack of phosphorus and potassium primarily affects the flower growth rate and size, requiring applying a bloom booster.

Check out for telltale signs like pale and less vibrant petals, failed flower buds, thinner petals, and droopy appearance to determine undernutrition.

Practical Solutions

  • Use a foliar spray with a specialized formula like 12-4-8 every two weeks to address nutrient deficiencies.
  • Apply the foliar spray directly to the leaves as it is where the plant absorbs the nutrients quickly.
  • Applying balanced fertilizer (10-10-10) every two weeks in spring and summer helps provide a regular NPK boost.
  • Cut back on fertilizing and resume in the following spring if the summer and bloom periods have passed.
  • Amend the potting mix with organic matter like compost, aged manure, and leaf mold to help break down nutrients.
  • Apply natural fertilizer like compost teas, fish emulsion, or seaweed in spring to give a quick nutrient boost for flower development.

3. Overfertilization

Like under-fertilizing, overfertilizing the Hibiscus can have a similar and sometimes grave effect on its blooms.

Applying excess nutrients can cause excessive vegetative growth at the expense of flower production.

Moreover, overfertilizing affects both Hibiscus flower production and plant health, leading to stunted growth or sometimes even death.

If you suspect a problem with flowering, check for the following signs.

  1. Reduced blooms: Nutrients can choke the plant, leading to reduced flowers or even no blooms.
  2. Burned roots: Stunted growth is due to root burn, which damages the roots and reduces their ability to take up nutrients.
  3. Excessive foliage growth: Excess foliage growth at the expense of flower production is expected when too much nitrogen is applied.

Practical Solutions

  • Start flushing the soil under the rain or distilled water to remove excess salts and nutrients.
  • Scoop out the excess fertilizer from the soil surface.
  • Otherwise, repot the plant if you suspect the soil has become sterile.
  • Use a balanced liquid fertilizer every 4-5 weeks in spring and summer. Dilute it if necessary.
  • If you have a granular fertilizer, apply it evenly and follow the instructions on the package.

4. Incorrect Pruning

When done correctly, pruning is as essential as any other factor to boost flower production.

Hibiscus should be cut occasionally in the growing season to promote healthier growth and encourage branching.

Removing old, woody stems and spent flowers encourages the development of new growth.

If you prune your Hibiscus plant at the wrong time or aggressively, it can remove flowering-producing buds.

pruned hibiscus
More than 1/3 pruning of Hibiscus is only a waste.

Moreover, unpruned Hibiscus will grow wildly and branch out with excess foliage, preventing optimal air and light circulation.

Practical Solutions

  • Start pruning your Hibiscus immediately after blooming is finished.
  • Remove the dead or damaged branches and spent flowers in late winter and early spring to induce new growth.
  • Prune off dead or diseased branches and those growing in the wrong direction or crossing over other components.
  • Never cut the plant during blooming, which can push back the current bloom.
Prune the Hibiscus back by up to one-third of its height, but be careful not to remove too much of the plant or unnecessarily at once.

5. Inappropriate Watering

Too much or too little watering can affect the blooming of Hibiscus plants, as inconsistent moisture can affect root health and food production.

Remember, Hibiscus plants require consistent watering to attain slightly moist soil around the spring and summer.

However, excess or frequent watering will drown the root, preventing oxygen and nutrient supply for optimal flower production.

Check out for signs like drooping or wilting flowers, yellowing leaves, and buds failing to bloom altogether to suspect a watering problem.

Practical Solutions

  • Remove decayed or browned foliage and wilting flowers to channel the energy toward healthy growth.
  • For overwatered Hibiscus, stop watering and set it out in the sun to let it dry.
  • Consider repotting the plant into fresh, well-draining soil if you suspect fungal or root infection by cutting off the affected roots.
  • Underwatered Hibiscus will require dehydration treatment: submerge the pot in a container filled with water and water from the top to help it retain moisture.
  • Check for signs of stress or delayed progress, which indicates root damages and requires repotting.
Preventive Measures: Water Hibiscus plants weekly in spring and summer and once in two weeks in fall and winter. It is best to water them early in the morning or in the late afternoon.

6. Pests and Diseases

Although rare, your Hibiscus can sometimes attract fungal or bacterial infection from inappropriate watering and wrong growing conditions.

Hibiscus is susceptible to powdery mildew, leaf spot, root rot, and bacterial leaf blight, which can cause compromise the plant’s health and reduce flower production.

Fungal infection primarily affects the root’s health, leading to stunted growth and failed flowering, while bacterial blight affects foliage and stem health.

Similarly, Hibiscus is also prone to the attack of sap-sucking pests, including whiteflies, aphids, and spider mites.

They are more prevalent when your plant’s hygiene is compromised due to diseases, inappropriate watering, inadequate air circulation, and excess moisture and humidity.

Look for discoloration, spots, webs, and other symptoms that can help you identify the pest problem.

Practical Solutions

  • Start with removing diseased or infested foliage and flowers immediately.
  • Wash the Hibiscus plant with neem oil or horticultural oil to kill the pests and their eggs.
  • Otherwise, resort to commercial insecticide if an entire batch of Hibiscus plants is affected by pests.
  • Applying fungicide over the soil and watering will help remove the fungus in the soil and roots.
  • Monitor the plant for signs of recovery. Otherwise, check for root rot and repot in a fresh potting mix after pruning the affected roots.

Correct the watering schedule and place the plant in a bright location with better air circulation and direct lighting as a preventive measure.

From Editorial Team

Hibiscus buds turning brown?

The small flies known as hibiscus gall midges cause Hibiscus to get bright yellow or brownish flowers and drop off when blooms are still tiny. 

To remove these midges, apply the same method as for thrips. Additionally, you need to put extra effort by spraying and soaking the soil.