Cold-hurt Gardenia - to prune or not to prune?

TerpsichoreMarch 2, 2014

I have a beautiful "Mystery" gardenia that I bought last summer. It has the biggest, most beautiful fragrant blooms! It thrived in a pot through the summer, then I decided it would winter-over best if I put it in the ground.

Everything was going great until mother nature decide to send the "polar vortex" down south. We had a couple nights of single-digit temps and I didn't even think about covering her up. A few days later, all of the leaves started to turn crispy (as you can see in the photo.) My other two gardenias (August Beauty and one that I don't know the name) fared great and are still green and shiny.

I know that Mystery is still alive because when I scrape the stems I can see green under the bark. So my question is: should I trim off all of the leaves and the part of the branches that are dead, or leave it alone? If so, when? Now or wait until spring is officially here ( mid-March/ early April)? Should I also wait to fertilize?

I REALLY don't want to lose this gardenia!

Thanks in advance for the advice!

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jujujojo_gw(6b 7a)

Who told you that "if scraping the stems, you can see green under the bark" means your Gardenia is still alive?

Long dead gardenia still shows green if you scrap the stems.

Gardenia is not deciduous. It knows no dormancy. Likely, you will need to buy new replacements.

This post was edited by jujujojo on Sun, Mar 2, 14 at 18:04

    Bookmark   March 2, 2014 at 6:02PM
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I have 2 gardenias that have been established for about 16 years and they have the crispy leaves and are very cold hurt from the polar vortex as well. I am really worried about mine too. I found info on ehow:

"Cold-damaged wood should not be cut off until the danger of frost has passed. If you cut off the damage, tender tissue is exposed to potential cold. It could also spur new growth, which is more susceptible to cold temperatures. You can manually defoliate the tree at any point in the season. Wait until spring to prune when new leaves have formed. This will help you identify what parts are dead. Prune back to healthy growth, taking care to cut just below active buds."

Read more:

Don't give up on your baby just yet.

Here is a link that might be useful: ehow

    Bookmark   March 3, 2014 at 7:12PM
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jujujojo_gw(6b 7a)

Posted by cataylor 7 (My Page) on Mon, Mar 3, 14 at 19:12

ehow sounds like a robot most of the time, doesn't it?

This post was edited by jujujojo on Fri, Jun 20, 14 at 14:50

    Bookmark   March 4, 2014 at 1:38PM
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I want to ad this response from my local ag extension agent in case anyone else comes across this post looking for answers:

I hate to be the bearer of bad news but my guess is that you will lose this plant. I wouldn't pull it just yet, let is stay until mid April and see what if anything does emerge. I think the biggest problem is that this plant is hardy to zone 8 and we are a zone 7. this year we probably faired as a zone 6. (Mystery gardenia (Gardenia jasminoides âÂÂMysteryâÂÂ) thrives in a well-drained but moist, sandy location in partial to full sun. These gardenias grow well in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 8 through 11, as they are a subtropical shrub.)The second problem was probably a limited root system. Since it was only planted in the Fall it probably did not have time to get a deep, well established root system established and that could also have played a part in it's demise. I am so sorry.

Karen Neill, Urban Horticulture Agent
North Carolina cooperative Extension Guilford County

    Bookmark   March 10, 2014 at 3:35PM
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I have a healthy, beautiful Gardenia bush and it's growing wildly. How and when do I prune it back. All comments are welcomed. Thank you!

    Bookmark   June 20, 2014 at 1:42PM
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