Need help with Chuck Hayes Gardenia!

kooshball(7b)February 19, 2010

Some facts:

4 Gardenias were planted in the same bed on 8/29/09. 3 of those are representative of the attached photos, one of

them is healthy and looks great. Soil is clay that was amended with certified compost, plants were planted at / above grade in an area of good drainage. By 10/1/09 leaves on the 3 in question started to yellow and drop. On 10/9/09 I applied epsum salt, ironite and foliar insecticide. pH was 6.9, and was brought to ~6.7.

I continued to apply the foliar spray and was able to stop the yellowing and dropping of the leaves by mid Nov. Recently I noticed that the one good gardenia is still looking great but the other three now have rusty colored leaves and spots on them (top and bottom) as pictured. Additionally I see what looks like exposed "flesh" in the photos of the bright green stem areas. Both of these symptoms are only present on the 3 gardenias in question.

I can't seem to post my photos but hopefully my description makes sense. I have since confirmed that the spots are from white-flies so I wonder if the discoloration of the leaves is a side-effect or another issue.

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There are many reasons leaves yellow..from chlorosis, to lack of Nitrogen, insects, over and under-watering.

I have a couple questions..I've researched Chuck Hayes Gardenias..They are hardy to z7..are you in z7, A or B? And what size were the Gardenias when you planted them?

First, I think you'd have been better off waiting to plant in spring, especially if your winter has been exceptionally cold..Is it?

Why are you spraying so much stuff? LOL..You said you sparyed w/insectcide..did you see insects on the Gardenias before spraying? You mentioned whitefly. Does the insecticide rid whitefly?
Yellow Sticky Traps work fantastic..they're non-chemical, non-toxic, the best whitefly killer around..There poison/chemical free, and will trap hundreds of whitefly per day.

Discoloration can be caused by fertilizer burn or if temps are freezing, frost bite.

I wish you posted pictures.

I use Iron and ES's on my Garenias by applying 'iron' 2-3 times a year, to prevent chlorosis and 'ES' every other month..I think you it possible?
How much iron, which type, and what amount of ES's did you apply?
When a plant has Chlorosis, 'lack of iron' leaf veins are dark green, more prounounced than usual, and inner leaves are usually light green/pale or yellow.
Applying iron and ES's shouldn't have hurt your plants, but I'm unsure about the insecticide. Especially if you're overspraying. Did you apply any insecticide to the soil?

The pH has decreased, but I'd aim for lower numbers. Did you add Peat when you amended soil? Peat is acidic.
Whatever, don't fertilizer. Not yet..once your Gardenias look better, hopefully within in a few months, use an acidic type..I use Rhododendron/Azalea fertilizer.

In the meantime, check for whitefly or any other bugs. Mites, mealy, scale. Read the insecticide container...see if it kills whitefly, the correct dossage and times to use. Google 'fertilizer burn' to see if your leaves look similar.

BTW, if you see whitefly, please try Yellow STicky Traps.

Good luck..Toni

The thing that concerns me is the insecticide.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2010 at 5:49AM
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Your trying to grow gardenias in clay soil.
To make matters worse, you just amended the soil with compost, what kind of compost? Manure?
You need peat moss, coarse builders sand OR vercumilte that you can buy at any Home Depot.
Clay holds water. Gardenias can't live in clay soil unless you loosen it up with the above ingredients.
Peat moss, Coarse builders sand or vercumilte, will provide acid and drainage.
Manure will make drainage worse in clay.
Then mulch on top of it all.
Remember, 90 percent of all gardening is what you are
planting the plant in.
Look up online put in a search box Gardenia in clay soil.
Good Luck.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2010 at 12:14AM
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I am in 7b and the gardenias were around 18" when first planted. The strange thing about this situation is that I planted 4 gardenias in the same area and only 3 are behaving poorly.

The compost that I used was "certified compost" from my mulch supplier which evidently means food scraps, leaves and saw dust. I checked for drainage and it is good and my moisture meter is showing that it is not excessively wet. The bed is in front of my house and is sloped away so there is no influx of water that would add to the moisture there.

I put 2-tablespoons of ES in water and applied it to each plant, the ironite was applied as a foliar spray.

My corporative extension confirmed that I do have white-flies and I will be putting a soil drench out soon to help kill them.

The insecticide was was one containing Beta-cyfluthrin: 0.0015%; Imidacloprid: 0.0120% (Bayer rose and flower spray) which should be OK to use with gardenias.

I hope this additional info helps, if there are other questions please let me know.

BTW, this forum category won't let me post PICs if there is another way let me know

    Bookmark   March 4, 2010 at 3:20PM
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You can post here..Just join a free hosting site like "photo bucket", and then post a link from the drop down bar form under the picture you want, the third one down,into the message portion, then do a preview message, and you will see your pic.

As for advice on your denias, no one can explain it better than the ones above that already have. They are doing a great job...It was because of their knowledge and kindness, especially the questions asked of me in the past, that made it possible. It shows that they really care and want to help. Be as accurate as possible, and you will do just fine with the advice you are getting..

It may just be that you are doing to much to them, and by luck, one is still not responding poorly..They say that the heart of any plant, is the soil it is planted into..


    Bookmark   March 4, 2010 at 8:50PM
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Mike, thanks for the photo tip; here are my photos.

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   March 4, 2010 at 10:34PM
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photo of the bark

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   March 4, 2010 at 10:37PM
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one more photo

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   March 4, 2010 at 10:38PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Koosh, do Gardenias ordinarily grow in your location? And did you experience extended periods of very cold weather like much of the country? (You might live in a zone 7 location that doesn't have the kind of winters we do.) Your plants may not have been well enough established to withstand an especially severe winter.

First of all, let's clear up some things about the soil. Gardenias (and just about anything else) can grow perfectly happily in clay soil, as long as it drains well. Sometimes, we need to do things like amend the planting bed (which you did and with what sounds like great stuff), check for any needed pH adjustments.

I can think of few things worse to use as amendments to clay soil than builders sand and vermiculite. Sand, unless you pretty much replace the larger proportion of the soil with it, can turn clay soil into cement. Vermiculite has such a weak structure that it will collapse during the incorporation process. It's virtually worthless as a soil amendment and really offers very little of value in a potting medium. And why add either of those products when plenty of organic matter of some kind does a much better job at improving porosity?

Peat? Don't use it myself as a soil amendment won't do any harm but it won't be as helpful as your compost. It sounds to me like you've got a good handle on the limitations of your soil and that you've taken the right steps to mitigate problems that the clay might contribute. (I love my clay soil, by the way.) Next time you prepare a bed, use your compost plus a bark based soil conditioner. I see bags of the stuff all over the place.

I agree with Toni that you should hold back on the fertilization (with anything) for now. Epsom salts really shouldn't be added unless you know your soil has a magnesium deficiency or that your plant has a VERY high magnesium requirement. Gardenias don't qualify.

See if you can find an Iron chelate (pronounced KEE-late, if that helps) product to apply to your plants. I wish I could remember the brand name of the stuff I used to use when I lived in a location where iron was scarce. Iron is 'usually' present in fairly large amounts, but may be held captive to soil ions by a too-high pH OR by cool or cold temperatures. Your present pH (if accurate) is too high for most iron loving plants. Products containing iron chelates can help but not solve the problem.

I don't see any signs of whitefly, but perhaps the extension office sees things that we weren't shown. Whitefly eggs and nymphs are located on the underside of the leaves. Once all chance of freezing temperatures are over in your location, an application of horticultural oil will work wonders in smothering them now. I'm not a fan of the pesticidal soil drenches. Too many insects are attracted to the flowers, and can be affected by the nectar or pollen. But that's me. ;-)

The only time I used sticky traps outside was the last time. I trapped butterflies, green anoles, beneficial wasps and more stuff besides adult white flies.

Can't really say much about the flaking of the outer bark. The green that is exposed is the phloem, in case you really truly want to know, lol. That's the tissue layer (always just under the outer bark) that carries photosynthates manufactured in the leaves DOWN to the roots and other portions of the plant. It just looks like little pieces are flaked off, is that right? Nothing doing any chewing (as in mice or voles)?

Sorry that this is sooo long. But Mike emailed me to help. Whatever Mike asks for, he gets.

    Bookmark   March 6, 2010 at 4:09PM
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rhizo_1, thank you for your reply and the information.

Just to be accurate and up to date I check the pH and moisture just now and all 4-plants are right at a pH of 7 and slightly moist (not soggy and not dry). For reference by lawn is at a pH of 7.5 and wet (which I know to be true) as indicated on the same instrument.

We did have a long cold winter here although the minimum temperatures were in line with zone 7 (but the averages were very low). There was a 2-week period when it went into the single digits at night and the highs were only in the teens to twenties. In fact our soil temps right now are still in the mid to upper 30's where they would normally be in the 40's to near 50.

Regarding white flies, I didn't post those photos but a sample leaf to the cooperative extension did come back positive.

Thanks for the advice on the vermiculite; the people at my garden center said the same thing and suggested the bark-type soil conditioner.

Looks like I will sit tight for a few weeks to see what happens when spring finally arrives.

BTW, besides Iron chelate what do you recommend that I use to lower the pH?

Again, thank you for the advice.

    Bookmark   March 6, 2010 at 5:25PM
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skippy05(z7 PA)

I have a Chuck Hayes gardenia in our small back yard that was planted back in 2004. I live in Philly. Only a small plant, quart or gallon size container, I don't remember.
I don't give this plant anything special not even mulch & it is beautiful! It is taking over our yard. It is covered with flowers & smells heavenly.
The only thing I do is sometimes some used coffee grinds, sometimes egg shels thrown in the soil under the plant. I heard they like milk???? So when the gallon milk carton is empty I fill with water & give Chuck a drink. Guess he likes it?! He does look sad in the winter, with the snow storms, brown leaves etc. I go out & try & get the heavy snow off of him so the branches do not break off! Other than that I give him no special treatment & he seems to like that?!

    Bookmark   June 20, 2011 at 6:03PM
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