Should I adopt this sick gardenia?

gardeniarose(z10FLA)February 10, 2005


I had posted this under the shrub forum but someone suggested I put it here:

My neighbor has had a gardenia for about 3 years. I bloomed beautifully and was doing well until a few months ago. She had someone come to look at it (plant expert/tree sprayer) and he told her to just get rid of it, that there is no hope. Well, aside from looking a bit dry and in need of a good watering, the plant has what looks like very tiny and numerous dried up barnacles all over the leaves. My neighbor said when she took the plant into the house for the hurricanes 3 months ago, these little "barnacles" let loose with ants all over her house. I highly doubt that ants hatched from her gardenia but these are all the facts I have. Without a picture of these things, does anyone here have any idea what would look like tiny (pinhead sized) barnacles on a gardenia? She offered the plant to me as a rescue but I did not take it since I do not want to spread whatever it has to my plants, including my own gardenia. I would however welcome the challenge of nursing it back to health.

Thanks in advance.

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risingpower1(Essex, UK)

Hm, I doubt it, but maybe they could be scale insects? Either way, if you could spray it with something like bio provado ultimate bug killer you could see whether they fall off. I'd keep it away from your plants and see whether the spray has any effect.

    Bookmark   February 10, 2005 at 12:43PM
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jview(Z7a NY)

I think that RisingPower is probably right. It sounds like scale to me too. Just a word of caution, if I remember correctly gardenias are sensitive to some sprays so be careful and read the label before spraying. Good luck, Jerry

    Bookmark   February 10, 2005 at 3:36PM
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mehitabel(z6 MO)

I agree that it sounds like scale. My own experience with scale has been extremely negative. Ordinary sprays like Safer's don't get rid of it, and you need special sprays for it that often cause the plant to completely defoliate. After that it's almost certain to get root rot, and etc.

I would not take a plant like that in, myself. The scale spreads very rapidly and can spread to other plants.

Spend your energies on a healthy plant instead of your neighbors cast off is imo.

    Bookmark   February 11, 2005 at 12:41AM
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Thanks everyone for your help. I did a google search on scale and sure enough, I think that is what is ailing this gardenia. I read that something called White Oil will get rid of them, but in the end, I don't think I am going to take this plant on. I just hope I am not there when she throws it out with the garbage....who knows what will happen then.

    Bookmark   February 11, 2005 at 12:48AM
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guanabanaboy(10b So. Cal.)

If you do decide to save it, I can recommend Bayer Advanced Tree and Shrub Insect Control for scale on gardenias. Also Orthene 97 at the rate of 1/2 tsp per gallon water. I wrote a post, located down the page, that covers my tips for growing gardenias, including pest control (see post "Gardenias on G. Thunbergia Root Stock").

Just in case you give in, Chris

    Bookmark   February 12, 2005 at 12:00AM
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Thanks Chris. I read your very informative post on gardenia care. That is pretty much what I've done for my gardenia, which is a small veitchii in a terra cotta pot. I think it is "own root," so it will stay in pots. Aside from dropping some yellow leaves, it appears to be happy. It has had several flower buds on it for the past couple of months but they never open. Any ideas? The buds first appeared in early January, which I did not expect.

    Bookmark   February 12, 2005 at 9:59AM
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When the plants promise a good personality, I would not be afraid of giving it a try.

Ankrara's Hobby Corner

    Bookmark   February 12, 2005 at 12:36PM
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guanabanaboy(10b So. Cal.)

Not sure, but mine have set buds as well. I think that they should this time of year. The buds can sit there for a long time, as if in suspended animation when the weather is cool during the day. Did you get flowers last year when the weather warmed up? It may just be a matter of waiting for higher day temps.


    Bookmark   February 12, 2005 at 12:43PM
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I didn't have this gardenia last year. I only purchased it around July. We have had some very chilly days and nights since it set bud this time but for any night below 45 I have taken it indoors for the night. I guess I will just have to be more patient.

    Bookmark   February 12, 2005 at 6:02PM
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Ants 'farm' the scale insects, milking them like we do cows. I use a mix of horticultural-grade oil and pyrethrum concentrate, especially on the undersides of the leaves and stems.
If this is not grafted, do not plant it in the ground!

    Bookmark   February 13, 2005 at 3:34PM
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I think I am going to pass on my neighbor's gardenia. My own gardenia is fussy enough and I just now am getting it to look at least 75% happy so I don't want to risk giving it something else. I think mine is own-root, so it will spend its whole life in pots.

    Bookmark   February 13, 2005 at 3:47PM
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