Gardenia in Red Clay Q's

scandia(7)February 18, 2006

I have a Gardenia that is 5' tall growing in Alabama Red Clay. It is the only surviving Gardenia I have. So I really want to get this right.

I need input from anyone who has experience with Growing Gardenia in Alabama.

I want to transplant the Gardenia from the spot it is in to a different part of my yard this spring.

I had planted 5 Gardenia about 2 years ago and this plant is the only one that survived the winter and has been thriving and blooming ever since.

My plan is to dig out at least 2ft around the base and as deep as the roots go..In an attempt not to damage any of the root ball. And then moving it to an area that has similar shelter from winter winds..

Is there anything else I should do??. Since the plant is happy in Alabama Red Clay I was not planning on amending the soil...Should I amend the soil??


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I suggest you dig it, transplant it and prune it way back. I would wait until late March or early April to move it. By then we should not have anymore HARD freezes. Mulch with leaves and water, water, water this year, all growing season. If it is 5 feet tall, I would prune away 3 feet off the top. Fertilize with a liquid fertilizer such as Miracle-Gro or similar product at 1/2 strength every monthy. Now, take the pruned cuttings and cut 12 inch pieces from the tips. Coat the lower stems with a rooting hormone and put a dozen in a large bucket or pot of sand. Put them in the shade and don't let them dry out. You will have rooted cuttings within two months. I have a palnter full of rooted cuttings from last year. Just remember, if you prune now you probably won't get any blooms this year.

    Bookmark   February 18, 2006 at 10:32PM
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Although my experience is in Georgia, I would add not to move it to a southern exposure. The heat of warm winter days radiating from a house or wall could encourage it to start new growth. This will make it really vulnerable to the next cold snap. Odd as it sounds, you're better off giving it a northern or eastern exposure.

    Bookmark   February 19, 2006 at 12:02AM
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Currently the Gardenia is in my front walk bed. It is somewhat sheltered from northern winds by the house and sheltered from early morning sun by the porch...It is getting so big that it is blocking my view from my front porch. Plus this spring I am removing all the plants from both my front beds to a back area 47' x 11'.

Part of my back yard is fenced with 6' fencing. The rest is horse pasture, fenced with wood rail fencing.. The far north of the lot line all the way back, is LARGE mature trees, and misc. thicket.

The Gardenia will be planted in my new Back flower garden. Which was wild, some large mature trees and thicket. I cleared it out, leaving only the large trees. and am preparing it for spring planting. There will be shaded areas caused by the mature trees..And my 6' fencing will be extended to back up against the lot line which is northern exposure the fence will back up the new garden area. The spot I have picked for the Gardenia is about 7' away from the northern exposure 6' fence. So it will be shielded from Northern winds in winter..I may opt to put the Gardenia closer to the fence just to make sure winter does not get it..Should I be worried about southern exposure more then northern exposure???

Thanks for the info re rooting clippings..I am not so good at that and have only had luck rooting Geranium.

Can I just push some Gardenia branches down to the ground and put a rock on top of the branches to root it?? I have enough space to do that..What is that called..??? I have a friend that does that a lot and it works for her.

That Gardenia is absolutely beautiful..It gives me TONS of fragrant blooms..I am So nervous that I will kill it..Or stunt it's blooming abilities..

Thanks for all the help..

    Bookmark   February 19, 2006 at 11:41AM
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Yes, you can layer the limbs to root more. I've had limbs growing on the ground which have rooted by themselves.

The cuttings are V-E-R-Y easy to root. I'd try a few, if I were you. If you do 20 cuttings and if you almost ignore them, I'd bet 10 will roots.

Good luck with your transplanting. - Terry

    Bookmark   February 19, 2006 at 12:36PM
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Okay I will try to root them from some clippings and maybe try putting rocks on a few branches..

I am afraid to trim it down...It had SO many blooms on it last summer. I am afraid I will mess that up by trimming it.

It does have one section of branches that I do want to clip off...Because they make it look odd shaped. You say use sand, I am curious about this...

I am getting a book on how to prune anything to look like a bonsai..I may try that with this Gardenia, but not before I experiment with something else first....

I am emotionally attached to this Gardenia for some reason. STRANGE huh?

I have a picture of it...Can we put pictures up on our messages??

    Bookmark   February 20, 2006 at 9:49AM
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Okay I have another problem...Recently I put up a new topic titled "Gardenia looking strange"

I caught my neighbors female dog going wee on my gardenia..Chased her off...Will this kill my gardenia??

How do I counteract dog urine?? Just water the plant down??

    Bookmark   March 14, 2006 at 8:00AM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Actually, pruning is NOT NOT recommended at all when transplanting a tree or shrub, evergreen or not. It used to be, but we know better today. Contrary to the belief that removing some above ground growth would compensate for all of the root loss, we know that pruning greatly reduces the plant's ability to manufacture new roots. Every single leaf is a factory. A plant's normal reaction to being dug is to send ALL of it's energy resources to that part of the plant that is trouble, the roots. If we reduce those leaves which are the the source of the energy, the plant suffers terribly. Not only can it not respond normally to severe root damage, but it will also be forced to devote some of those energy resources to making new leaves. You all know, after all, that pruning is actually a growth promoting act.

Thus, we've known for some time that top pruning a woody plant upon pruning has a negative impact on the plant.

I would only amend the soil if you can prepare a huge area for the plant. If simply digging a normal sized hole, I would not. Be VERY careful that you don't plant this gardenia any deeper than it was growing in its original home.

Scandia, you need to concentrate on the shallow,lateral roots rather than the deepest roots. In a clay soil, in particular, the important roots will probably be in less than 10 inches of soil. Dig wide and don't worry about getting all of the deep roots. They really don't matter as far as water and mineral absorption goes.

    Bookmark   March 14, 2006 at 8:16AM
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roseyp8255(z8 - SC AL)

I tried to dig up a gardenia that is out front - several years ago - former owner planted in 100% shade, so no blooms. ANYWAY, i THOUGHT i got it all - and moved it, divided it, etc., successfully. It has come back, from WAY down below, and is big again - rather, it is wide again. Only about a foot tall - compared to 5 foot tall ones in full sun....

Scandia - my dogs go through the fence on EVERYTHING that i have planted along the fence. Nothing has died...

    Bookmark   March 14, 2006 at 11:42PM
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I plan on digging a giant hole when I remove the Gardenia for transplanting. Hopefully I will get all of the roots .

Then it is going from being in red clay to being in an area that is cleared wild thicket. The ground is light brown, and is very loose/aerated.

Then I am going to put some plant food made to help roots during transplanting..And later some miracle grow..

I am not expecting it to bloom after transplant..I just want it to live.

About a month after transplant (if it looks okay) I will trim it, and try to root the clippings..Do you think a month is long enough to wait?

    Bookmark   March 15, 2006 at 8:33AM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

If you read my earlier post, I suggested that you not top prune. I meant for the entire year or so! Your plant will be in a stress mode for months after this procedure and will need each and every one of those little green factories to make new roots. I hope that makes sense. BUT, you should certainly take a few cuttings! Absolutely do that! If you would like some good links about that, be sure to let me know.

Scandia, you will never get all the roots. Like I said, try to dig as wide a root ball as you can, and not worry too much about those that are growing very deeply. They will be too battered and damaged to be of any good to the plant anyway, and should probably be cut or trimmed with a SHARP instrument. Root pruning is good.

Have wet sheets or blankets ready in the wheelbarrow so that you can cover the roots immediately. You may even want to wait until you've dig your plant up to decide the depth of the new hole. We already know that we want it to be very wide, but you don't really want to dig it any deeper than it needs to be. Anyway, those wet sheets will give you some wiggle room in time.

Fertilization will not help the roots, believe it or not. As a matter of fact, it can be harmful to the plant at this time. Your Miracle grow will be taken up by the new roots and used to make new leaves. That's what those fertilizers are supposed to do. You don't want your plant to do that now....just to concentrate on making new roots. The very best thing you can do for the roots is to get a nice layer of organic mulch down (3 inches) as soon as you are finished planting. And of course, monitor the watering very carefully.

So, though I've suggest that many of the practices you may have been ready to do are not such a good idea according to what we know about plant physiology these days, I hope you'll see that the actual transplanting procedure is simplified. No pruning, no excavation of deep deep roots, no fertilization.

This is not the absolute ideal time of year to transplant, but I think you'll have success if you get to it right away.

    Bookmark   March 15, 2006 at 12:32PM
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efam(z7b GA)

I disagree with you about the pruning after transplanting. I have had more success with that method than not pruning at all. With all of that root loss, it's impossible for the plant to get a sufficient amount of water to all of the branches and they die back. Pruning after transplanting prevents them from dying back.

That's just my two cents worth. :)

    Bookmark   March 15, 2006 at 1:16PM
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The flower bed that this Gardenia is planted in has a concrete floor about 3ft down not sure why the former owner did this. So the roots only go 3ft down. BUT could be spread out pretty far.

I never trim the tips of the plant just trim off the flowers after they look like they are dying.

It is a strange shape. Has a branch on the bottom that I was plotting to trim off eventually. I will wait for a year..I do not want to take any chances with it.

    Bookmark   March 16, 2006 at 6:42AM
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Thank You all for the perfect help.

I was wondering if I could trim off the branches I am plotting to trim BEFORE I move the whole plant??

I think I will wait til after my Dogwoods are finished blooming before I move it..That gives me a few weeks. If I trim off the bottom branches NOW and root them as Tsmith has suggested..Will my Gardenia have a chance to adjust enough before transplant?? I think it would be about 2-3 weeks if I trim it within the next few days???

I want to root it but I am such a whiner and a wimp about this plant..Worried I will kill it..

Should I not trim it because it seems to be in distress with mildly yellow leaves right now??

I put chicken wire around the bottom of the plant to keep my neighbors female dog from going on it. I hope that is the problem. The plant does look better everyday since I wired the bottom and put sevin dust on it and plant food...

    Bookmark   March 17, 2006 at 11:16AM
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I live in Opp Alabama and I have good dark soil my Gardenias do very good.In the spring after the first blooms are gone and they start to put out young leaves.I pick some cuttimgs and put them in a gallon glass jug with water in a part shade part sun and leave them for a couple weeks and they will root then I pot them or just plant in my yard .Very easy to do also put some in my window in a glass and they root to .

    Bookmark   March 24, 2006 at 5:01PM
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