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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.

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

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Thursday - November 10, 2005

From: Belton, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Diseases and Disorders
Title: Hibiscus wilt in Texas Star hibiscus
Answered by: Joe Marcus

QUESTION:

I have a Texas star hibiscus on my deck. It flourished all summer, but not quite a month ago, the leaves turned yellow and fell off. Will it come back? What happened???

ANSWER:

Assuming your hibiscus was receiving enough water, the problem sounds suspiciously like a wilt disease caused by a soil-borne fungal pathogen. The symptoms that you describe are typical of hibiscus wilt disease. However, to be sure you should pull a dead plant out of the ground, shake off as much soil as possible away from your landscape, and take the plant -- roots and all -- to your county agriculture extension office for positive identification of the causal agent.

 

If the problem is hibiscus wilt, the plants are probably lost. Further, you would not want to replace them with more hibiscus in the same location because the fungal pathogens can persist for quite a long time in the soil and would likely infect and kill your replacement plants.

 

Here is a link to a very good article on Hibiscus Wilt.

 

Although Texas Star hibiscus, Hibiscus coccineus is thought by many to be a Texas native, it is not. It is native only from Florida to Louisiana. It is also known by the common names Scarlet Hibiscus, Swamp Hibiscus and Scarlet Rose Mallow.

 

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