When compared with exposure to darkness, exposing Hibiscus rosa-sinensis L. `Nairobi' plants to red light (635 to 685 nm, 2.9 μmol·m-2·s-1) delayed flower bud abscission, while exposure to far-red light (705 to 755 nm, 1.7 μmol·m-2·s-1) accelerated this process. Flower bud abscission in response to light quality appears to be controlled partly by the presence of leaves. The delay of bud abscission was positively correlated to the number of leaves being exposed to red light. Excluding the flower buds from exposure to red or far-red light, while exposing the remaining parts of the plants to these light conditions, did not influence the effects of the light exposure on bud abscission. Exposing only the buds to red light by the use of red light-emitting diodes (0.8 μmol·m-2·s-1) did not prevent dark-induced flower bud abscission. Exposing the whole plants, darkness or far-red light could only induce flower bud abscission when leaves were present; bud abscission was totally absent when all leaves were removed. To prevent flower bud abscission, leaves had to be removed before, or at the start of, the far-red light treatment. These results suggest that in darkness or far-red light, a flower bud abscission-promoting signal from the leaves may be involved.