gardenia leaves soft and droopy

zone6-njApril 15, 2013

Hi everyone,

How are you? A few days ago I bought a gardenia plant from home depot that was relatively big, and had a bunch of blooms and buds on it. Was really happy to see one that was so healthy. I also bought a big bag of some miracle grow soil, forgot exactly which one it was but it said it made flowers grow twice as big.. etc.

Anyway i repotted the gardenia into a larger pot and used the MG soil to fill in the rest of the pot. It is April, and i'm in Jersey but the weather lately has been 50s, 60s, 70s.

I watered it every day after purchasing it. (Maybe 3 days in total, only) I kept it outside for a few days, given that it wasnt that bad outside; however we did get a thunderstorm. One day I came back from work (hot day) and saw that the gardenia leaves were soft and droopy. Nothing is yellowing, the only two colors I see are green and some are lighter green but nothing is yellowing. It has just been drooping for the past couple of days. I brought it inside, however a little better it is still droopy. Im really worried, what do you think the problem could be? Even though I haven't watered it for days, the soil still feels wet, not EXTREMELY wet but definitely moist on top still.

What would you suggest I do? I don't want it to die, it was just so healthy and now it's depressing to see it change.

Also, I got a paper and tapped a few of the branches, a few black things came down. They didnt really move, looked black, and didn't really smush when i rubbed the paper together. Don't know if that's spider mites. Whatever it takes, please let me know.

Have a great day.


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definitely stop watering it. how much bigger is the pot that you put it into? Does it have drainage? Did you put rocks or a grate on the bottom of the pot so that the drainage would be free flowing?

Miracle grow is not the best soil to use, it tends to stay wet to long (as potting soil). Especially if you choose a pot that is to big that the roots can't utilize all the 'wet' quick enough.

If you aren't making a quicker draining mix, you have to be really careful to not choose a pot to large for the root-ball.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2013 at 10:42AM
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Hey Rosie....

Hi Drew. I agree with Rosie.
What sizes are old and new pots?

MG is okay, but definately needs amending. It irks me MG company decided to add a chemical that keeps soil 'moist' for prolonged periods.
Depending on plant type, 'we'll stick w/Gadenia,' I pot with MG, peat, a little, black, fertile soil, 'example Hyponex,' perlite, very coarse sand and tiny pea gravel.

Repotting is stressful for any plant, but Gardenias are extremely fussy. You should have waited for blooms to die before repotting.

Some plants need semi-tight-fitting roots to promote flowers.

WHY were you watering daily? Leaves are wilting because roots are water-logged. Unless you potted in a tiny container.
Soil might look dry on top, but most-likely, center and bottom soil is soggy.

Were leaves green and light green before you brought your 'denia home?

It's possible your Gardenia is variegated.. if not, there's a problem going on.

Black things on leaves....are you sure it's not soil?
To test for a white, sheet of paper under leaves. Tap leaves in different areas.
Then inspect thoroughly, see if they move. You might need a magnifying glass. Mites are very tiny.
Also, look for spider webs. Mites webs are finer in texture, than webs of a house spider. Toni

    Bookmark   April 15, 2013 at 1:00PM
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Hi Toni :)

It's amazing how much I've learned this past year. I'm getting folks agreeing with me left n right. :) But I'z still got a lot to learn.

why add peat to a house plant? if there's already a soil backing, isn't peat over-kill? gee... what would I add? (whatever Wes or Mike tells me to.) :) I'm not really good at soil mixing yet. I've got a bag of perlite and have learned how to mix that with soil. Haven't quite worked my way up to the triple formulas though.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2013 at 2:35PM
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Hi Rosey,

I'm repotting plants, and of course, made a mess..
The birds don't help, lol.

You have a lot to learn? I thought you were an expert?? Seriously.

As you've seen multiple times on GW, people repot using different mediums.
I mix peat with other additives for plants that require acidic soil. Gardenias, ferns, Azaleas, etc.

But, that's me. Some people are

What do you mean by a soil backing?

Otherwise, peat is omitted.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2013 at 3:01PM
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well, soil retains water - so if you create a mix that contains soil (I think of that as the soil backing/or base) - then the other components ... the perlite, or bark, or rocks - well that's the extras. :) ... Now if you have a mix without soil - then peat would be the component to 'hold' the water... but if you have soil in there. Doesn't it do it already? why add peat too?

I mean, you're talking in a pot - you water it often enough that if you're looking for the absorbtion component in peat - soil kinda' does that. - most often you don't want to much water retention in a pot. - now if you were saying mixing the peat in your garden bed - then I'd be a bit more understanding. Can't stand hosing the yard any more than necessary.

I'm NOT an expert. REALLY. And I constantly show where my knowledge is lacking. I try to make sense of these mixes and goodness knows - I'm glad for folks like AL who can reason out how all the stuff works ... cause my mind can only wrap around so much info at once - and then I need my buddies to lead me through it when it gets to complicated. Thank goodness for GW and the good friends I've made here. :)

    Bookmark   April 15, 2013 at 4:09PM
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Toni, me talk like an expert?. nah, I learned a lot from folks here, and when I don't know something, I sometimes extrapolate what should work. But, I'm still very much a student. I've just managed to get out of my prams and into my bloomers. (diapers to 'big girl' undies) - - (so, I come off sounding smart sometimes.) :D

    Bookmark   April 15, 2013 at 4:16PM
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Hi there,

I posted my questions in tne New England Gardening forum but then, I am not sure which is the best forum to post. Should it be here or somewhere else?

I picked up a Frostproof gardenia from Logee's today. It's severely rootbound. Should I cut the bottom end of the roots off to help new roots grow? If not, how do your untangle such a root condition, please?

I've read somewhere that gardenia does not like being transplanted. I plan to plant it in the ground once the weather is warmer. Any advice to help me successfully transplant it is appreciated.

I am a Fruit and Orchard forum member. I have always loved gardenia. Once I've found out that Frostproof has a chance to survive my zone, I want to give it a try.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2013 at 8:30PM
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buyorsell888(Zone 8 Portland OR)

Yes, you should always cut off circling roots from any plant when planting out into the ground.

'Frost Proof' is not hardy here in the PNW so I doubt it will work for you in New England....sorry

    Bookmark   April 17, 2013 at 1:26PM
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Thank you for answering. I did not mean to hijack this thread from the original poster at all. I meant to post a separate post but somehow I made a mistake.

I also posted this in New England forum. Quite a few people in New England including those in MA zone 6 successfully grow Frostproof in the ground.

I am surprised that Frostproof gardenia did not work on your zone 8. Are you sure you got the real Frostproof? The place I bought it from is a reputable nursery. I don't think it would say zone 6 if it's not.

    Bookmark   April 17, 2013 at 8:38PM
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Hi Rosey,

Sorry I didn't get back sooner...been watching the news morn-eve.

Rosey, regarding soils.

This is only my opinion..

Since growing plants,, well, let's say 20-years, 'don't need to reveal age,' lol, I've been mixing soils according to plants a long time.

In the beginning I used bagged soil which, at the time, was mainly, semi-heavy black soil. Long before MG was sold here.
Later, I discovered mixing different mediums, according to plant type worked better..'for plants.'

Old soil loses nutrients. That's where black soil helps.
Old soil, stales and pH increases. That's where Sphagnum Peat helps.

Perite, pea gravel, coarse sand is added for drainage.

My Gardenia was purchased, 1994/5. Since 'denias prefer acidic soil, my 18/19-yr-old Gardenia has been potted in the mediums above.

BTW, the above mix works for my tropicals that require acidic soil, however may not work for others.

Here's a pic of my 'denia taken last summer.


    Bookmark   April 18, 2013 at 4:38PM
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Beautiful gardenia. You have it down to a science having a potted gardenia in your zone!
They are a lot of work in colder zones but they are worth it, aren't they?

    Bookmark   April 19, 2013 at 7:20PM
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Hi Rosey,
I just repot my gardenia into a 5:1:1 last night. I hope it works fine. I bareroot the plant completely. And this morning I woke to see my gardenia look just fine. So, I hope in the next couple of weeks I put it outside. But for it is inside the house.


    Bookmark   April 22, 2013 at 12:04PM
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Hi Butterfly,
Butterfly, thanks,

Yep, Gardenias are well worth the extra work, for sure.

I have three small, ungrafted, variegated Garenias, purchased from Thailand but they're a ton of work. I think variegated types are fussier.

    Bookmark   April 22, 2013 at 12:30PM
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