En Español

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?


Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Friday - October 09, 2009

From: Woodland Hills, CA
Region: California
Topic: Shrubs
Title: Leaves falling off a hibiscus twice a year in Woodland Hills CA
Answered by: Barbara Medford


I have 8 hibiscus bushes and only 1 of them loses its leaves twice a year. Why?


There are 12 species of Hibiscus native to North America, of which 3 are known to grow in California. It doesn't really matter though, because you almost undoubtedly have one of the many hybrids, and/or imports from other countries. Both the hybridization and being non-native would put them out of our area of expertise, but we can ask you some questions which, when you answer them, could give you a clue to what's going on.

1. How many times has this hibiscus repeated this behavior of dropping leaves twice a year? If it was once, it may have been the result of some change in its environment. If it has happened multiple times, you need to look at where it is growing and how it is growing.

2. What sun does it get? Hibiscus can grow in a little shade, but they do best in full sun; that is, 6 to 8 hours of sun a day. 

3. Is the plant in question growing in the same area as the other 7? If not, what is different about where it is, as opposed to the others? Again, soil moisture, sun, even accidental exposure to a pesticide could have caused the leaf drop.

We found a website called "About Hibiscus", Hibiscus Care, that seems to have the most information on this plant. Read it and compare the conditions considered optimum for hibiscus with the conditions of the plant you are concerned about.


More Shrubs Questions

Transplanting large Silverado Sage bushes from Mesa AZ
August 19, 2013 - We just bought a condo with three Silverado Sage, each one is 6-8 ft tall, trained to grow as "trees" with bare branches for the bottom 4 feet or so, and beautiful flowering branches on top. They ar...
view the full question and answer

Evergreen privacy screen in California
February 18, 2015 - Hello, My family and I just bought a house in Paradise CA. I want to.plant privacy plants that are native to northern California. I would like the plant to be green all year but drought resistant if...
view the full question and answer

Recommendations for native plants for Dallas Co., TX
May 12, 2007 - Looking for a Recommendation: Can you suggest a plant that meets the following requirements? ENVIRONMENT -- - I live in Garland, in Dallas County, TX. - The soil is primarily clay. - Full sun...
view the full question and answer

Fast Growing Shrub for Oceanside New York Site
April 17, 2015 - Can you recommend a tall, fast-growing shrub for a sandy location (near an ocean beach in New York) in full sun? Iím looking for a privacy shield.
view the full question and answer

Erosion control in West Union IA
June 22, 2010 - Erosion control and native grasses/plants for steep, shady slope in northeast Iowa. We are building a house in northeast Iowa (near West Union in Fayette County). The road that was graded to the ho...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center