Gardenia - after fertilizing leaves turned yellow and fell off

peabody1May 3, 2007

I used fertilizer made for acid loving plants. After I fertilized my outside gardenia, the leaves turned yellow and eventually fell off. Some weeks later, I mixed up some Epsom Salts in a gallon of water, but that didn't help any. Anyone have suggestions what I can do to get it to pick up and put out new leaves?

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Peabody, by chance, you didn't happen to overfertilize? Even though I'd think leaves would brown instead of yellow.
I find Azalea fertilzer works best w/gardenias. Just sprinkle pellets and mixing.
How is your gardenia doing now? Any new growth?
This probably doesn't matter, but did you check for pests such as mites, mealy or scale? Toni

    Bookmark   May 6, 2007 at 4:28PM
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I'm not an expert by any means, but don't gardenias hate getting fertilized?

    Bookmark   May 12, 2007 at 6:02PM
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Mersipoo, Gardenias don't need continous fertilizing, but they do require food to keep them green and blooming.
My 12 yr old (container) gardenia gets fed every two months during growing season..(never in winter) I use azalea fertilzier which keeps soil acidic. I find iron is also essential to prevent chlorosis. Same goes for my 3 yr old grafted gardenia..Where did you get the impression gardenias don't need food? (S) Toni

    Bookmark   May 13, 2007 at 5:43PM
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I'm also wondering if it's root rot, which gardenias are also prone to . . .

how much are you watering, and do you let the soil get dryish before watering again, or does it stay moist?


    Bookmark   May 14, 2007 at 10:32AM
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Toni, I didn't get an impression that they don't like food. I was saying I got the impression that they don't like fertilizer, I guess I should have said TOO MUCH fertilizer. AND I did say that I'm NOT a gardenia expert. Also, from what I've read on this forum, as well as in the catalog that sells gardenias and gives cultural info on them, they say to not fertilize them during certain times in their life cycles, especially when they have buds on them because they claim this causes bud drop. I know all about iron chlorosis of the leaves. I'm not a novice to gardening, btw, just gardenias. And, apparently from these posts, not everyone is an expert at caring for them.

So excuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuse me.

    Bookmark   May 15, 2007 at 2:50PM
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Mersiepoo, sorry, I didn't mean to say you were a thing about computers is misinterpreation..I didn't mean any offense..Please don't think I was being hostile..Okay??? Toni

    Bookmark   May 15, 2007 at 4:33PM
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Hi Hopeful,
I'm sorry about that, I did misinterpret your remark. Oopsie! =:O
Maybe it was my hormones too, I hope I didn't leave any fang marks on you. I've gotten rude people on this forum before so I'm sorry about that..please forgive me! I try to use smileys when I type...sometimes it can help. :) See? :) Hope you aren't mad at me.

    Bookmark   May 17, 2007 at 6:37PM
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Hi everyone,
So, I broke down and bought a huge, very healthy Gardenia Veiitchi. My question is , Do I give it a little weak acid like fert.? Its loaded with flower buds, some its even formed in the two weeks I've had it![Joy!] I've got it under Gro Lux wide spectrum lights,and it seems to be holding all leaves, [since the inevitable new place leaf drop LOL] Also, its been getting rain water to drink. Any help would be appreciated!!

    Bookmark   May 29, 2007 at 3:11PM
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Mersiepoo, again I'm sorry..I didn't mean to sound hostile or imply you didn't know your plants..That's one thing about computers I dislike..when a statement is made, it can be interpreded different than meant..
I thought you were angry at me..LOL..No, not mad at you at fact, after I read your post I felt hurt..(S)
I don't claim to be an expert, on any subject..When I leave feedback, it's usually from experience w/my own plants or what I've read in plant books..
To be honest, as far as gardenias go, unless one lives in Fl, it's really difficult keeping alive and well..not just barely thriving, but looking good, too. Again, didn't mean to sound rude..I don't come to Gw to argue w/anyone...I love talking about plants and try being friendly..So, peace girl..(S)

Beetle, since your gardenia is doing well, maybe you should wait until flowers fade..I don't know..after reading numerous posts here on GW about feeding gardenias while they're in bud, only to have buds drop, I'm starting to think it may not be a good idea to fertilize, even with a weak solution.
You mention lights but no it getting natural light too? Sun...
Can you summer outside? 'denias love a summer vacation outdoors until autumn..especially once nights cool down..Ironically, my 'denia's do best in early spring and fall..I think it has something to do with fresh, cool air.
Read posts about feeding 'denias during buds..Toni

    Bookmark   May 29, 2007 at 4:12PM
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kaihui(Z7 VA)

I am not an expert on gardenias, but I am just just letting everyone know my expderience.

Bought 4 August Beauty gardenias in early March.

2 planted in front of my house. The spot has Sun from sunrise to noon. Using Azalea fertilizer every month. Watering them regularly. They look very healthy (can't be any healthier. Now many buds are out).

I put one in a 3 gallor container, the same spot of my house, watering it frequectly, fertilizing the same way as I do with the two in ground. This one looks sad. Some yellow leavs, and the color of the leavs are pale. It sets lots of bud, but apparently it is missing something.

I put one in the woods. Full shade, no care at all. It grows great. Can't be any healthier.

I also have 2 kelim hardy, 1 chuck hayers, the same spot. They are doing great. Some are bloomimg beautifully. They are all in ground.

I also have a drawf gardenia in container. Bought from Lowes in April. Re-pot it with a 3 gallon container. It si bloomig nicely. Tje leavs are healthy.

They were all bought this year, some in March, some in April and some in May. I am in central VA. I hope some of them can make t he winter here.

    Bookmark   May 30, 2007 at 11:27AM
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Kail, have you checked for spider mites? Gardenias are susceptable to mites...
Inspect top, under leaves, and between stems..Look for fine webbing. Mites are not easy to locate, the dead give-a-way is once they built their webbs.
The pale leaves is one indication of insects, so check thoroughly.
Also, rub leaves for stickiness. Another indication of pests.
One way to test is by placing a white sheet of paper under leaves, tap'll see little speckles on paper which are mites. Toni

    Bookmark   May 30, 2007 at 5:58PM
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kaihui(Z7 VA)

Hi, Hopefulauthor,
No, I can't find anything on my unhealthy gardenia except the leaves are yellow..

Thanks for the suggestion.


    Bookmark   June 1, 2007 at 12:41PM
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Kai, I don't know what's going on, but I've read numerous posts lately (on several forums) from ppl who fertilized gardenias only to have leaves yellow..Weird, huh?
I'm starting to wonder if it's the fertilizer..I mean, if it were one or two ppl, but several???
W/my 'denias, I find the best fertilizer to use is Azalea types..Also an iron sulfate/chelate 3 times a yr prevents Chlorosis.
Do you summer your denia's outdoors? This surely helps, too, and so much new growth forms..Good luck, Toni

    Bookmark   June 2, 2007 at 2:28PM
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Hi Hopeful,

I wasn't mad at you, I was just being my usual sarcastic self, lol! Sorry about that, I figured you were jumping all over me and I over reacted by being sarcastic. Sorry 'bout that, really. I know what ya mean about computers and misconstruing the true meanings of communications. :) So, again sorry 'bout that!

I also agree with you about not fertilizing until after blooming, I've heard that it's best to not 'fix' it if it's not broke, as far as doing anything to gardenias until after they are done blooming.

I'm going to order mine from logees and watch them die for I'll be back whining and crying soon....

BTW, I'm going to go and pot it in a 1 part sand, one part peat moss and one part potting soil...we'll see how long it takes for them to die off for me.

    Bookmark   June 2, 2007 at 6:20PM
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LOL Mersipoo..let's hope your new gardenia works out..
What type of sand do you use? I find Builder's Sand bought at Home Depot works's got fine pieces of grit so sand doesn't stay wet for long periods.
Which gardenia are you going to buy at Logees? I haven't shopped there in 2 yrs, and believe me, girl, I used to buy loads of plants from them..since they decreased pot size, and increased prices, I've given up. It's too bad cause they have some really nice rare plants you can't find at other nurseries.
Have you checked Ebay?
I discovered buying larger gardenias work best, at least for me..I bought one at a nursery here in IL which was overpriced, but you know how it goes when you want a plant..then 2 yrs ago we drove to Tn, found a small gh that sold 4' tree 'denias for 15.00..What a bargain!!
2-3 wks ago, went to and bought a variegated gardenia..
Believe me, I've killed enough 'denia's in the past..Especially smaller specimens.
I'm going to check out Ebay to see if there's any deals, if I find something, I'll let you know..
Mersie, believe me, I didn't mean to sound like I was jumping over you..That's the last thing I'd do to anyone..I guess that's one reason ppl use, LOL, and (S) and :) after a sentence..LOL..
The internet is a big part of my life, especially since there's problems here at home..U know? Well, take care, and think positive regarding your new 'denia..:) Toni

    Bookmark   June 3, 2007 at 6:49PM
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Hi My gardenis is dying in bud. I dont know which type it is,but it is a small white flower. It has a few blooms on,and loads of buds , but unfortunately they are dropping off before opening
Any help would be most appreciated

    Bookmark   June 18, 2007 at 10:23PM
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kaihui(Z7 VA)

I have 9 Gardenias. Two in pots and the other 7 are in ground. They get the same amount of Azalea fertilizer at the same time. All those in grounds are very healthy(can't be any healthier. Leaves are nicely green, some finished blooming and some are still blooming). For the two in the pots. One is a miniature type. Very healthy in a 5 gallon pot (a big pot for a small plant). Another one is August Beauty (3 ft tall, 1.5 ft spread) in a 5 gallon pot. This one is in trouble now.

I am more leaning towards the root rot.

    Bookmark   June 19, 2007 at 11:07AM
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Hi Hopeful,

Okay, I broke down and got two at Logees, one is the fortunata (sp?) and the other is a hardy african gardenia. I also just got sand that's been outside (it's not builders, just the finer stuff, but not as fine as play sand) for a year, then mixed it up with peat moss and potting soil. I took pictures of them so I can document their demise. I also put a cord from an old pair of cotton blue jeans in the pot before hand with some sticking out of the pot so maybe they can wick up moisture when they need it. I posted the links to pictures on the "I almost bought a gardenia" thread I started. I hope that since I expect them to die, maybe they won't?

Don't worry HA, I wasn't mad at you, believe me. :) I was just being naughty. ;) Hope you are doing okay as well. :)

    Bookmark   June 25, 2007 at 7:50PM
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Its been almost 2 months since I've been to these threads, I wanted to especially thank hopefulauthor for the great advice!! Since bringing Deni home, and having all the flower buds and a few leaves fall, its been doing much better. [NO fertilizer!!] As of yesterday,28th June 07 it has one Gorgeous bloom!! Soooo Happy! This is under grow lights, and no I havent put the plant outside, as I really do'nt have a full sunny spot. Plus I'm scared to death to move it about now!!! It's got two more green flower buds that MIGHT open LOL Thanks again everyone for the good advice, and very entertaining thread!!!

    Bookmark   June 30, 2007 at 12:44AM
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Mersi, ohhh you're so lucky..I adore the African Gardenia..the only place I'm aware of that sells this plant is Logees..What size pot did yours come in? For a small plant, its flowers are sweet-smelling.
I'm glad you're not angry at me..I love talking to people about plants and don't come here to argue. I'm surely no expert at growing plants, only give advice on my own experiences..And again, I didn't mean to sound like a know-it-all or critize you. Not in the least. Again, I'm no expert..if someone posts a question in which I don't have an answer, I'll go through plant books trying to find one. Anyway, I didn't mean to sound like I was telling you what to do..Okay? Peace, love and all that other good stuff..LOL..As u mentioned, you've been growing plants a long time, so I'm sure you're well-aware of what to do when it comes to caring for plants..though denia's are denying winter, they attract mites, or worse. But discussing it, hearing others experiences, and telling our own is helpful..I saw your denia's on the other thread and they look good. Don't be pessimistic..or try not to be..we never know what's going to happen growing denias..that's a fact..In my opinion, a mature denia is much easier to deal with than a opposte of other plants..

Beetle, thank you..I'm glad your denia is doing well..If it's blooming indoors and plant looks healthy, I'd fear taking it out, in case it burns, etc. Then again, remember, a cloudy spot outside is usually brighter than a well-lit one indoors. As for fertilizer, most nurseries fertilize, mostly using a time-release which can last up to 3 months. Sometimes you'll see the tiny balls which are food pellets.
Does this mean you'll never fertilize your denia? Oh oh..This is something to consider..Remember, denia's are known for chlorosis if not given proper minerals. Especially iron definciency..Well, you're the judge so keep an eye out to see how it's doing..Why do you say the buds 'might' open? Is something wrong?
Well, it sounds like everyone's denia's are doing wonderful..Good luck, for all of us..Toni

    Bookmark   July 1, 2007 at 4:04PM
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Here is a pic of the bloom of a couple days ago. Yes the whole plant almost died, but if i can keep it alive till spring, she will definitly get a summer vaycay!! And I'm taking your good advice [toni], and buying some azalia fertilizer to use carefully lol! Cheers everyone,I'm just so in love with this plant!!

    Bookmark   November 17, 2007 at 3:18PM
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Beetle, what a beautiful flower..your picture is so colorful and vibrant it looks can almost smell the blossom..Toni

    Bookmark   November 21, 2007 at 5:00PM
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Thanks so much Toni!! i'm really happy with the whole plant. also,its incredible how long one blossum lasts[a week or more!] Love the changes in the flower too!
Four days ago, I took 2 gardenia cuttings. so far, so good, they are covered with plastic bags, and are holding perky leaves lol! I will post a pic in a few days

    Bookmark   November 22, 2007 at 1:52PM
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My gardenia seems to be slowly dying...the leaves turn brown on the edges at first, and then the whole leaf becomes brown, and dry, and falls off. I have added epsom salts. I think the problem might be overwatering, or maybe I had it outside on days that were too cold. It gets a lot of sun, and it's planted in a large ceramic pot. I also recently placed it over a flat tray filled with water, and I started misting it regularly in order to try to increase the humidity. Can anyone recommend anything that could help save it?

    Bookmark   March 24, 2009 at 2:56PM
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Natnat. Are the brown edges crispy or soft?
Epsom Salts will not resolve this problem, though it doesn't hurt applying.
What was the temp when your Gardenia was outside? Frostbiten leaves turn a grayesh-black. 50F and higher will not freeze Gardenia.

You said your tree was in a big big? Do you know pot size? Measure the rim, from one side of pot across to the other.

You also said, the pot is sitting in a tray filled with water. Does the tray fill up and hold water? If so, did you add pebbles/stones inside the tray? Toni
PS. Nat, you should have started a new thread. The subject of this thread differs from your problems.

    Bookmark   March 24, 2009 at 8:21PM
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jeelli(5/6 CT)

Mersie and Toni- I'm so glad you two made up! Hugs!
Mers- did you make the trip up to Logee's, or just order online?

    Bookmark   March 25, 2009 at 10:23AM
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Jeeli..did Mersie and I argue? lol.
But seriously, Mercie, did I say something to offend you? If I did, I'm sorry..truly. I don't recall any such thing, but if I did, please tell me what it was..Toni

    Bookmark   March 25, 2009 at 10:57AM
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Do you to tell me that gardenias have "periods too" merciepoo!!!lol
I got what you meant. Phasicously, if I spelt that right, do gardenias feeling like food, since our crap out everytime we feed, no matter when you fed them..I think they dio have "cycles"
I need to eat,but don't feed me!lololol

    Bookmark   March 25, 2009 at 8:02PM
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What an interesting thread!

merciepoo, what ever happend since this thread started to the denias you bought at Logees?
Please let us know please,asap...

How is everyone?!!!

Take care,


P.S..I can't believe all the things that can cause yellow leaves!!!LOL
Temp flucuations, fertilzers, ph, lack of magnese,lack of sun, to much sun, too hot, transplanting, watering, and even a STARE!! Sheesh.
Are these plants worth all this trouble? At least for me, yes.If I can get one plant to flower just once then die, then I have had my thrill just to start all over again!!LOL


    Bookmark   April 30, 2009 at 7:17PM
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I was spritizing my gardenia plant and it was doing so well. after I fertilized it, the leaves turned brown and fell off.Now there are tiny buds, so what can I do to bring it back to the healthy growing plant it was before I brought it in the house? thanks

    Bookmark   January 4, 2011 at 10:43AM
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First things first.

What kind of soil mix is it in?

Where do you live?


    Bookmark   January 6, 2011 at 5:36PM
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Hi Guys, I was reading this whole forum and it's given me a little insight on gardenia's. I've got an idea it's sensitive to fertilizers but I'm still buzzing with questions. My beau loves them and bought them but the green-thumbing is up to me since I grow succulents and cacti. Because of the summer season I have two flowers and most of the stems are still buds. It is placed in direct sunlight on a risen, soil-based garden bed outdoors. Partly in shade, will spend most of direct sunlight in the morning but in full shade in late afternoons. I feel fully guilty of not doing anything with this plant at all! We've planted it and left it to it's own device. But now that I see some good progress it's obviously getting some nutrient and acid somewhere. I'd really like to start taking care of it so that it get's bushier than it is. We've had it for 2 years only. A meter tall. Most leaves are healthy but I know it's been eaten by caterpillars and infested with something. I've just taken 2 tiny eggs off it. I think as far as humidity Queensland weather provides decently. What I want to know is should I fertilize while in bloom? (searched everywhere, not really clear answers). And with pruning after bloom, how far/where/what do i cut off? Does anyone know some natural pest repellents or anything that works well without damaging the plant?

    Bookmark   December 14, 2012 at 7:41PM
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