Gardenia problems

waycross48leeApril 28, 2006

I have a large, container gardenia. Plant is covered with blooms and buds and healthy leaves. Beginning to have the same problem as I did with it last year when it was just purchased. New buds are turning brown and looking droopy or dropping off, yellowing leaves, and there appears to be some tiny, white webbing under leaves. How do I save this plant? Last year I ended up having to just cut it all the way back and repotted it in very large clay pot. Now - the nightmare is back!! Any suggestions. I don't want to loose this beautiful large plant. There is some time-release fertilizer on it but nothing else has been added. I live in N.Florida but plant gets only am or mid-day sun.


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luis_pr(7b/8a Hurst, TX)

The webbing problem sounds like a thrips or aphid infestation to me. However, bud drop could be caused by those insects AND/OR by environmental factors (high temperatures; fast and large temp changes, low light conditions, etc) AND/OR root damage (by nematodes, by very wet soil, by using too much fertilizer, by transplanting).

First, assume insects are causing the problem. Spray an insecticide like Ortho Bug Be Gone or anything that is good against thrips and aphids. Then evaluate the results. Hopefully you should not see more new webbing and you should not see new buds browning.

If you see no improvements then the problem could have been caused by some of the other things that I suggested. Take appropriate measures if possible (nothing you can do now if the temp changes caused the bud drop).


    Bookmark   April 29, 2006 at 4:42PM
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webbing under the leaves would indicate spider mites.
they need/like dry conditions to breed and infest plants and that regular misting(at least once daily) of water for 7-10 days will interrupt the breeding cycle.
there are also treatments available for their control such as horticultural or neem oils.

Here is a link that might be useful: spider mite infestation

    Bookmark   May 1, 2006 at 2:58PM
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buyorsell888(Zone 8 Portland OR)

I am betting it is spider mites. When I lived in Phoenix they were huge pests on Gardenias.

Many insecticides won't work on mites which are arachnids not insects.

Try washing under the leaves and stems daily as advised.

Spider mites do make webs and they cause the foliage to have a dotted appearance where they suck out the chlorophyll. On severly infested plants the new growth looks really pale and sickly. Spider mites can kill a plant.

Aphids are easily seen on the new growth, they are much bigger than spider mites and don't cause webbing. They rarely severly damage a plant.

Thrips cause new growth to be distorted and don't cause webbing. The damage is generally cosmetic. Not fatal.

    Bookmark   May 17, 2006 at 8:50PM
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I just bought a gardenia - lovely, waxy green leaves, lots of blooms - and now it looks horrible! I have it indoors, a warm room, some sun. Misted it (which might have been a no-no) and now all the leaves crispy and curled in and the buds yellow.


    Bookmark   January 23, 2008 at 11:55AM
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snasxs(7-8 VA)

Andrea mmd,

How good are you at keeping houseplants?

You might try more fault-tolerant plants first.

E.g. you might start with a mum and later try a jasmine. After you have accumulated experience, Gardenia is not all that difficult.

    Bookmark   January 23, 2008 at 12:44PM
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The webbing is due to spider mites. The mites suck the plant juce and if the infestation is large enough the leaves look yellow and mottles.

All gardenias need to have their leaves washed both top and under the leaf, they do not like dusty conditions.

Additionally they will respond to iron sulfate and liquid nitogen. Plants come from the nursery loaded with fertilizers which last for about one year, after that it is up to the gardener to supply additional fertilizers. Purchase a commercial fertilizer that contains the mico nutrients of iron, copper, zinc, and magneisum.

All you folks out there, stop guessing and get two good texts on plant culture and read, read, then read some more.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2008 at 11:52PM
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If it heard you talking about how good it looks it sometimes will drop all its buds just to spite you....mine did that. Then I threatened to dump it and get another one (oh and also added some epsom salts to the water) and it started getting a better attitude. :)

    Bookmark   February 27, 2008 at 8:25PM
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Mersie, can I do the epsom salt water with my gardenia with a few flowers forming? The plant itself, is doing ok, but has kind of enemic lighter green leaves. [lots of new growth thou, so im not that worried lol. I basicaly ignore it, after its little bowl of water once a day! and its under plant lights in a coolish basement I love these plants!

    Bookmark   February 28, 2008 at 11:31AM
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snasxs(7-8 VA)

Yellow leaves could suggest the start of root-rot. "A bowl of water a day" can be a way to kill Gardenia, especially in cold climate.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2008 at 12:17PM
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Would a plant whos roots are rotting, display lots of FINE new growth, and flowers? AGAIN I will ask MERSIE if I can give my healthy plant epsomes Thank you very much!

    Bookmark   February 29, 2008 at 11:23AM
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snasxs(7-8 VA)

Hmm, unlikely  beetle, would you share a picture with us :-)

    Bookmark   February 29, 2008 at 3:02PM
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puglvr1(9b central FL)

Hi beetle 2007,

I'm sure Mersiepoo will answer, but for what's its worth, I applied epsom salts to my gardenias and it also has new growths and possible blooms(very tiny) not 100% sure its blooms yet. I also apply miracid every 2 1/2-3 weeks diluted according to the directions. Mine are outside, two are in pots and one is planted in the ground. I foliar feed(miracid) early in the morning(before it gets hot) and the rest I apply to the soil. Then after two weeks or so I add some epsom salts mixed in water and apply to the soil. I alternate this every 3 weeks. Someone on this forum had suggested this method and has done the trick. I only have a couple of yellow leaves and lots of new growths.I haven't had these for very long, almost 3 months, seeing all the new growths I am hoping means its doing good. I am very new to these plants and really want to succeed. I read so many posts on here so that I know what I was getting myself into and won't be disappointed if I kill them, LOL... I know if they die I did everything and tried it all, (o:

The fact that yours have new growths means you are doing something right.

Good luck with your gardenias and please posts some pics when they bloom.

    Bookmark   February 29, 2008 at 3:25PM
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jeelli(5/6 CT)

Anyway Waycross- I started using a warm mist humidifier pointed at my Gardenias, and the Spidermites are now a thing of the past. I also use a small fan to circulate the air around them, which I'll leave on for a few hours here and there. Not good for the electric bill, but my Hubby is so kind as to humor me!!!
I too would like to know more about the Epsom Salts- especially the ratio when mixing with water- or do you sprinkle them on top of the soil?
I also use Chelated Iron once or twice a month to help green the leaves up. Would Epsom Salts replace the Chelated Iron? (I'm no Chemist ;-)

    Bookmark   February 29, 2008 at 8:53PM
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Thank you sooo much puglvr1, this is what i was exactly what I was asking! I will try a dilute epsomsalt solution with the next watering [tiny bit, snasx is right,be cautious!! :) sorry for no pics right now, have to get back to my own putie lol! I'll try tommorow, happy gardie growing everyone!

    Bookmark   February 29, 2008 at 9:26PM
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As you can see the leaves are still green and it has flowered one or two, all winter under lights. I just think the leaves could be better.

    Bookmark   March 1, 2008 at 4:15PM
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puglvr1(9b central FL)

It looks beautiful beetle...I LOVE that flower. Hope to get some soon? Thanks for sharing.

Here's a couple of pics of mine, do you think the last picture looks like that might be a flower bud? Hope so... Not the clearest picture. You can see the new growths, the tree is not very big but hope to get some size this coming year.

    Bookmark   March 1, 2008 at 8:30PM
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Thanks puglvr1!! Your tree looks fabulous, and YES...those are definatly flower buds!! Congrats, and please post pics of the little beautys when they bloom?

    Bookmark   March 1, 2008 at 9:02PM
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puglvr1(9b central FL)

You're welcome beetle.I'm so excited, I was hoping it was. But I'm sure you meant to say "post pics "IF" they bloom, LOL...Thanks, will keep you posted.

    Bookmark   March 2, 2008 at 11:19AM
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snasxs(7-8 VA)

Pug lover, how much did you pay for that gorgeous First Love topiary? The good news is that these are very easy to keep in Florida. I predict you will have no problem at all.

    Bookmark   March 2, 2008 at 11:43PM
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puglvr1(9b central FL)

snasxs, "First Love topiary", not sure exactly what you mean? Is that what its sometimes called?

Anyways, I hope you're right about doing well with these, I know I will need a lot of luck and a lot of care.

I paid $12.99 for it I bought one at home depot, then went to Lowe's and had them price match it also. It is a grafted "Miami Supreme". I have one planted in ground and one in a pot. Here's a pic of it taken appx 3 months ago . Upon inspection today this one seems to have some very small buds also. I am not sure if it will actually bloom but I will keep my fingers crossed...(o;

    Bookmark   March 5, 2008 at 9:33PM
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snasxs(7-8 VA)

There are two gardenia cultivars in the picture: Radican on the left and Aimee on the right.

    Bookmark   March 6, 2008 at 9:52PM
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puglvr1is it grafted on Gardenia thunbergia? I'm seeking what is the perfect scion for gardenia

    Bookmark   April 22, 2008 at 3:24PM
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puglvr1(9b central FL)

Hi louis, I am pretty sure that it is grafted on Gardenia thunbergia. I'm not 100% positive, though. I attached a picture of my potted Miami Supreme with lots of BUDS right now. I love this little tree! I also attached a link from University of Florida, IFAS, great article on gardenias. The article states that "thunberia" is used primarily for root stock.

Here is a link that might be useful: Gardenia: Universtiy of Florida IFAS

    Bookmark   April 22, 2008 at 8:33PM
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jeelli(5/6 CT)

Hi Puglvr- that is one fine looking Gardenia you have there!!! Beautiful beautiful plant!

    Bookmark   April 22, 2008 at 10:02PM
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puglvr1(9b central FL)

Thank-You so much jeelli, that was very nice of you!!

    Bookmark   April 23, 2008 at 12:31PM
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My gardenia plants have leaves that have turned yellow. Should I pinch these leaves off the plant? These plants were in a three gallon container and planted in the yard Sept. 2007. Thanks for any help or advise.

    Bookmark   May 11, 2008 at 6:30PM
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My gardenia has these white things all over it! I think they're killing the plant. :(

    Bookmark   March 18, 2009 at 9:08AM
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puglvr1(9b central FL)

There are several things you can use...Try using Neem oil...with a couple of drops of ivory liquid dish soap... according to directions on the package. Or Safer's Insecticidal Soap... I also use Bayer systemic for "outdoor" plants only...don't use this on houseplants. I spray them with the neem oil/soap/water mixture for immediate results, then use the Bayer systemic for future infestations. You might have to spray every few days to make sure you kill the rest and the eggs that they've layed. The systemic is suppose to be good for 9-12 months, the only problem that I've seen when using it doesn't kill them right has to go to the roots and slowly work into the plant. That is why I have to use the neem oil spray to kill them as soon as possible...For me this works well.

Here's the link for the Bayer Systemic for Outdoor Plants:
This particular one is also good for Container outdoor as well as in-ground plants...I wouldn't use it on Edible Plants...Good Luck with your gardenia!

Here is a link that might be useful: Bayer Advanced Tree and Shrub Systemic

    Bookmark   March 18, 2009 at 12:48PM
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Oh Lord..looks like whitefly! When you touch a leaf, do the critters take off? Fly around the plant?

First, isolate your plant from any others..Whitefly is very, very contageous. They will attack any and all plants in the house.

Pug recommends Bayer..I've never used it, but I'm sure it works. I trust Pugs judgement.

My plants got one whitefly infestation..95% were covered with these gruesome insects..
Because I don't/can't use sprays (birds) I ended up buying Yellow Sticky Traps..They are incredible!!! The traps caught hundreds of bugs. They are reasonably priced, do not contain chemicals, and do the job.
You can find them on Ebay..I got mine at GardensAlive, but they're a tad higher in cost than those on Ebay.
Whatever, find something ASAP.
You bet whitefly will destroy a plant, and fast, too. If possible, take your Gardenia outside, or a room away from other plants.. Good luck, Toni

    Bookmark   March 18, 2009 at 1:02PM
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SPIDERMITS! RUN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

They are catchy just reading this!!!!

I just saw one come out of my key board!!!!!!!!!!

Later!!! Sorry

    Bookmark   March 18, 2009 at 1:57PM
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LOL Mike..Hey, I wouldn't put it past whitefly..those critters are everywhere!!! I really thought my plants were history..never saw one before, and thank God, never again. Toni

    Bookmark   March 18, 2009 at 3:22PM
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I am having so much trouble nurturing my gardenia! I bought it about last summer from RONA, and since then the plant's state has been worsening. I have been trying all I can to improve the plant's state nonetheless I have been rewarded with no success. During the winter period (where temps. reach up to -40.0 C) I had brought it inside the house and subsequently observed less blooming and stunted growth. In spring the remaining foliage turned pale green, not mention that there wasn't a single bloom because the buds fell right off. I assumed maybe, lack of sunlight was the culprit for all of these problems. After the last sign of frost in spring I returned the plant outside where I thought it might help it improve, but on the contrary it did not. I came to the conclusion then perhaps the soil was not acidic since our water (in Edmonton) is hard water. Therefore I attempted using a solution of aluminium sulphate to acidify the soil. When this did not work I switched to watering it with soft water. Even after doing these it did not help my gardenia. Ofcourse then I thought maybe the soil mixture was not adequate, so I repotted it with a miracle-gro, garden soil and mulch mixture. I also made sure to add a generous amount of epson salt, covering the base with corn meal and the top with more mulch for maximum moisture absorption. Few days after to my surprise I saw new growth, however the pale green-yellow and falling off flower buds were not yet eliminated. Currently there is still new growth but there are new added problems. In addition to the pale foliage and no blooms, the spindly branches, some new leaves and buds are turning dry, brown and crispy-like and also cobwebs are appearing. They seem scorched as if they are burnt. I have pruned off the infected areas hoping it would resolve the disease but it didn't. I heard that Neem oil may help however the product is not recommended on gardenias. What to do next!?! The pale green-yellow foliage, no blooms and scorched branch, buds and leaves still remain unsolved. Is it because maybe my gardenia is lacking adequate sunlight,local temperatures are unsuitable for it or is it that I am doing something wrong. Can someone please advise me with the necessary precautions I must take to save my seemingly dying plant.


    Bookmark   July 1, 2010 at 10:40PM
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hi im new to the site and i just got a gardenia for christmas and i was wondering how long it takes for buds to open indoors and if it is normal for it to lose some leaves? also im growing it under a grow light and i have a humidity tray for it

    Bookmark   December 29, 2010 at 12:18PM
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mehitabel(z6 MO)

Hi, mboney. Congratulations on your wonderful gift! A grow light and a humidity tray is a good thing for your gardenia. Los light in winter really stresses them.

Buds to open? Not sure, but unfortunately gardenias can drop buds if they are moved or if something isn't to their liking. So as long as they continue to fatten up, you're ok.

It's normal to lose a few leaves, especially as it's just been stressed by changing it's home. But not a lot, and not continuing over a longish period.

    Bookmark   December 29, 2010 at 8:02PM
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I have a beautiful large Gardenia plant in a pot. It has many buds, instead of opening up to a flower, they seem to explode to nothing. There is no sign of bugs, leaves are healthy, what can I do? I did get 3 blooms so far this season.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2011 at 5:26PM
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what is the reason for using espomsalts and how much,how often?

    Bookmark   March 5, 2014 at 8:42AM
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why use epsomsaltsand how muchhowoften

    Bookmark   March 5, 2014 at 8:57AM
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