Update on downfall of my gardenias

mersiepoo(6)July 17, 2007

Okay, I knoooooow I promised to do weekly photo updates of the 'hardy' african gardenia and the fortunata. But, there has been such little change in them (except the hardy one getting its leaves turning black) that I think I'll do the update every month instead. So far the fortunata still has not bloomed, the 'hardy' one still has leaves turning black, and I got a replacement one from logees. They claim the older leaves turning black is a root problem. I know there were little sticks below the main stem that were already black when I got it...oh well....

Anyway I'm due soon so I might be busy for awhile, but I will try to give updates as much as I can. :)

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snasxs(7-8 VA)

Sure, we look forward to your follow up pictures.

-representing the millions of Gardenia martyrs
and followers of your "story".

    Bookmark   July 18, 2007 at 5:27PM
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notanatural(z6 NY)

Mersie, I've been checking off and on for your updates.

Not sure if I told you but I had to get a replacement of the hardy kind from them as well. Mine is finally growing albeit very very slowly.

    Bookmark   July 19, 2007 at 5:48PM
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Thanks snasxs for following my gardenia soap opera! :)

notanatural, yes I remember you saying you got a replacement from them, I think they should re-label the 'hardy' gardenia 'on death's doorstep when they ship it'. :)

Fortunata STILL hasn't bloomed, I might have to risk exposing it to the outside elements...(sigh)....the drama continues! ;>

    Bookmark   July 20, 2007 at 5:37AM
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snasxs(7-8 VA)


If you bring it outside, put it under shade first. Water it only when the moisture meter says its almost all dry in the pot. Please be careful when you suddenly change the environment. It seems they are sensitive. They develop root-rot easily after being shocked.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2007 at 8:18AM
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Guess what! I was pretending to be 'aloof' with my fortunata today, just spritzing the leaves and checking the humidity tray its in...and I noticed the one flower is actually looking like it's ready to open up! I can see the whites of its eyes....
I just hope it's not teasing me, ready to drop a bud at the slightest hint of interest from me. ;)
I had moved it to a little more sun inside, and I think that may have worked?
It also got a bit droopy because I am guessing the wick and the roots aren't bound together tightly so it can't wick a lot of moisture up yet, so I watered the whole thing and it got back to normal. I'm also fertilizing it with a very dilute amount of algoflash organic fertilizer. If it starts flowering tomorrow, I'll post a picture! :)

    Bookmark   July 23, 2007 at 10:34PM
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In following this developing drama, I noticed no pictures posted for a while. Hmmmm. What could that possibly mean? Stay tuned!

    Bookmark   July 27, 2007 at 11:03AM
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Thanks Luis! :)

Snasxs, thanks for the tip about root rot and environment, that sure makes sense to me, no wonder they usually buy it, lol!


Whoever told me to put it in more light was right on! I think it started blooming the day I gave birth but I'm not sure since I was sort of busy that day..but here is the pic of the 2nd FLOWER (double GASP) that made it too (I cut the one off for my mom who loves to KILL gardenias in her spare time). I took this on the 27th of July, btw!

So I think I may be getting the hang of this gardenia growing thing...I can't believe it though...pretty crazy, huh? :)

Here's a pic of the gardenia (fortunata)! Oh, here's a pic of my kid, who also bloomed around the same time the gardenia did, and we had him at home too, what a coincidence! Hey, I did NOT want to miss that gardenia blooming...couldn't leave home, right? ;)

Let's see if I can remember how to get this from photobucket..if not I'll keep trying. :) Hope you all enjoy the pics!

Gardenia fortunata bloomed (7.27.07)

Jarrod bloomed (7.24.07)

    Bookmark   July 31, 2007 at 1:43AM
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Aw bummer, it didn't work...okay let's see....

Ta daaaa!

Here's Jarrod, he doesn't smell as good as the gardenia! :)

    Bookmark   July 31, 2007 at 1:47AM
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snasxs(7-8 VA)

The infant looks adorable! Does he look like Mom or Dad? Congrats on both.

    Bookmark   July 31, 2007 at 11:50AM
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Hello, mersie, congrats on both your babies. the infant is definitely more fragrant. I have been following your gardenia saga because it sounds pretty much like mine. I left it to my son's neglect while my husband and daughter and I went on vacation. when we came back only a couple of yellow leaves . now that i have been back for a week, alot more are becoming yellow. You are probably right: it is the way I look at them.


    Bookmark   August 1, 2007 at 6:33PM
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Congradulations on your little Jarrod and of course your gardenia blooming.
I had a hardy gardenia and finally threw it out.
It was down right ugly.
Next year I am going to be brave and order the kind of gardenia that you have.
If you can get it to bloom, so can I.
Thank you so much for this thread.
Hope you have time for your gardenia now that you have a new baby!
Keep us posted!

    Bookmark   August 2, 2007 at 12:46AM
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notanatural(z6 NY)

Oh Mersie, congratulations- on both!! How adorable (again, both!)

Hope you and the baby are doing well.

Doesn't the flower smell heavenly?

    Bookmark   August 2, 2007 at 7:15AM
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Hi Snasxs! From the eyes up he looks like dad, from the nose down he looks like me (pity him, ha ha!)

Hi Littlem! Yeah, after the first week of the new baby, I almost lost a few non gardenia plants, the yellow gelsemium sempervirens almost bought it, as well as my arabian tea jasmine, lucky for me I went to check on them! The gardenias looked a bit wilted so just watered them. I mist them with a dilute amount of algo flash and a bit of epsom salts on the leaves, not sure if that helps keep the leaves from yellowing? I know they like acid soil, so I think using 1/3 peat moss helped too. They'll probably croak when winter comes, so I'll be posting on here hopping mad... ;)

Butterfly, don't give up, heck if I can grow one.... Yeah the hardy one that was ready to die is still around, weird eh? Definitely try the fortunata, and expect it to die. Then it'll flower for you! :) The hardy one isn't doing much at all....it's like so boring!! :)

Hi Notanatural! Thanks! Yeah, I love the gardenia smell, woohoo! I'm so glad I could enjoy it! I also have some jasmine ready to flower too, probably tomorrow. :) Yipee!!

Will write more as events warrant, or if something buys it...

    Bookmark   August 10, 2007 at 9:01PM
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Ok, it was doing pretty good, I was ignoring it just fine. Then I made the mistake of talking on the phone where I could hear it. I told my mom "Yeah it has buds and is doing really good"! Two days after I said those words, I saw some leaves turning yellow. It KNEW that I wanted it to live...should have never said anything.

    Bookmark   February 10, 2008 at 7:36PM
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Try Epsom salts on your gardenia.
Just not too concentrated. I used this on my sweet olive last spring, and it really worked on the plant!
THe tera cota pot is showing you collected salts on the outside of it, so, until you can take it outside and flush the whole plant with water, put Epson salt on it.
There are threads on this forum, just check out Epson salt and gardenia in search.
GOod Luck! I hope this works for you.

    Bookmark   February 11, 2008 at 12:37AM
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snasxs(7-8 VA)


In addition to what butterfly says, I think one of the causes is environment change. Is there a temperature drop in the last weeks? Persistent damp and cold plus increasing sun power constitute a big environment change. I suggest you move the gardenia to your sunny, hot and dry bedroom. I think you will be positively impressed by the result.

P.S Do you know if the sand come from the sea or a salt lake?

    Bookmark   February 11, 2008 at 10:28AM
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That crusting thing probably isn't salt, because we have spring water, and I used an organic fertilizer last summer on it. We don't have a water softener either.

Is it safe to use epsom salts when it's in bud? I know it's waiting for me to try something new so those buds can fall off, ha ha!

Yeah, Snasxs you guessed it. It's in a south facing window and it's had some temperature variations with the warm and then cold weather and all. It's right next to the window, and I had been adding gravel around the humidity tray thingie, not thinking to raise the pot as well, so the bottom of the pot got buried and was stuck in cold water for awhile, a definite no no.

Now I moved it closer to the gas wall heater (it's about 3 feet away from it), last I checked the humidity tray water felt warm (instead of ice cold like it was before). I just hope it doesn't crisp up! I wish we had a nice warm bedroom to keep it in, but our house is cooooold because we only have one gas mounted heater and a woodstove that we are trying to use sparingly. Unfortunately it's in the best spot in the house right now.

Hopefully moving it closer to the heat source won't enrage her.

And, I'm adding some sort of orchid mix to it the next time I repot it. The roots are already coming out the bottom hole.

    Bookmark   February 11, 2008 at 10:29PM
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Merci, congrats on the buds.. Call me superstitious, but I believe when something is discussed aloud, the opposite thing happens,...
I'm not trying to tell you what to do of course, but if it was my gardenia the first thing I'd do is remove soil topping..sand/rocks, etc..
Unless the room is very cool/cold, 40-50, there's no need for rocks..
Is that sand on top of the soil??
I agree w/the Epsom salts..When a gardenia buds/flowers, it takes a lot out of the soil..For some reason I really notice this with gardenias, hibiscus and citrus..If you're not fertilizing plants yet, if it's too soon, try the Epsom salts..
There are only a few yellow leaves on your 'denia, but the others look very heatlhy, vibrant green..Toni

    Bookmark   February 15, 2008 at 4:13AM
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Hi Toni!

Yes I did what Butterfly suggested and put some epsom salts in the water. I also told that plant "Go ahead and Die! SEE IF I CARE, I'll JUST GET ANOTHER ONE, HA HA HA HA HAAAAAAAA!!!" Maybe that will get it to straighten up its act! :)

I'll take some pictures of the stupid thing, my batteries ran out and the new ones aren't any good (dang chinese batteries don't work). So far the buds are dropping off. I WILL NOT BE DEFEATED BY YOU...YOU GREEN GARDEN MENACE...YOU CANNOT SAP MY WILL AND YOU ARE POWERLESS TO MAKE ME SAD AND DEFEATED... (this is addressed to my plant, not any of you, of course!) :D

I think it's also p-o'd because of the fluctuating temps in the room, and the fact that the gas heater is so close to it.

    Bookmark   February 18, 2008 at 10:08PM
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snasxs(7-8 VA)

Mersi, please take some cuttings :-( Once gardenia hears the call from gardenia-heaven, she goes quickly into the black magic of downward spiral. The dance accelerates.

Next time, please avoid (sea or salt lake) sand. When it is cold, there is no need to worry about humidity ... if you still remember high school physics. Trust me, it is science. I would just throw the tray away. Use neat small plastic pots with peat and orchid mix.

Keep your house warm. It is good for children. When I live in central NY, I pay $300 for heating every month in winter.

    Bookmark   February 18, 2008 at 11:31PM
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Actually, the sand I got was from a sand bag I got from the road, it was pretty fine sand. Anyway, good idea Snasxs, I will take some cuttings, ha! That'll show 'em! I figured what the heck, since the buds dropped off I would use some algoflash on it, not like I have anything to lose, ha ha!

I'd never throw the tray away, I can always use it for my other plants. :) The strange thing is, some of the leaves are starting to green up. The other weird thing is, the leaves that are yellowing, they start their yellowing from the middle of the leaf and it spreads outward. So weird! I figured I'd give it epsom salts anyway as well. What the heck! Not like I'm gonna hurt it any, right?

I was thinking of killing a "Belmont" gardenia for this year. :) I might take cuttings as well, just in case. Never know what will happen! I'll take pics when I get new batteries. :P

    Bookmark   February 20, 2008 at 10:06PM
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Ok, here are the pictures, I added some epsom salts and also a bit of algoflash. Since the buds turned yellow at the base and fell off, I figure what the heck! Some of the lower leaves seem to be greening up. I think it knows I am mad at it.

    Bookmark   February 22, 2008 at 1:06PM
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snasxs(7-8 VA)

Yah Mersie! It seems Epsom and algoflash work! The leaves holding "bitter memory" of her "struggling period" are gone. Those hardened before and those developed after look fine. I think you have one bud survived. Next spring, when you bring her out, she will develop more buds. Yah!

BTW, some digital camera uses a lot of electricity. I recommend rechargeable butteries.

There are two more plants to the left. One appears to have lost all the leaves. Would you take some pictures of them?

    Bookmark   February 22, 2008 at 4:29PM
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Hi Snasxs, yeah I'm not getting *too* excited of course, since to get any hope would of course cause her to go into a snit and lose the rest of her leaves/burst into flames. :D We'll see how it goes, I'm not going to overcompensate by over fertilizing and using too much epsom salts either.

The epsom salt idea was a great one butterfly! Thanks for the reminder, ha ha!

Oh, the other plants in the picture, the small spindly one on the left is a small lemon, the one that is in the way of the camera with the gardenia behind it is a hawaiian baby woodrose I grew from seed last summer. The tree in the black pot is a coffee arabica.

    Bookmark   February 23, 2008 at 4:52PM
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greenhouser(Middle TN Zone 6)

I worked in a Greenhouse years ago and know gardenias need acid soil. If your water is alkaline they wont be happy. You can water them with rain water or any store bought water with a neutral PH. They also attract spider mites so watch for those. Avoid allowing the soil to dry out and they like humidity. Use an acid fertilizer.

    Bookmark   February 23, 2008 at 9:26PM
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Gardenias require the following conditions. Fast draing soil with LOTS of compost mixed in. Actually Scots 2 cu. ft.Potting mix is best. Open the bag and dump the contents on concrete slab and add the following: 1cup Osmicoat, 1/2 cup bone meal, 1 16 ounce bag of perlite and the same of vermiculite, l cup blood meal. Use a flat blade shovel to mix the lot together and dump the whole batch into a new clean plastic garbage can with a lid. Now you have handy potting material. Note: Two 2 cu. ft. bags with the above additions doubled will fill a 32 gallon garbage can, use the plastic bag the potting mix was in to store the left overs. Good exercise for the gardener and good for almost all potting. Workes good in starting plants and seed too. And for heavens sake please do not forget the IRON SULFATE.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2008 at 12:08AM
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I used 1/3 peat moss, 1/3 sand and 1/3 soil. Everything was fine until it got buds on it and I bragged about them..then the leaves started yellowing. So far the epsom salts and algo flash seem to be helping. I have some miracid that I might use as well. Our water here is from a spring and isn't alkaline. I also noticed the roots were coming out of the pot, maybe I'll do it in and repot it, ha ha! I'll definitely add some bark mix to the new stuff and won't over pot it.

I've also become less attentive to it so that it thinks I don't care anymore.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2008 at 8:28PM
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I am enjoying reading about your experiences with your gardenias this winter and thanks for the info. re potting mixtures. I am going to have to try out some of them. I actually cannot remember the mix i used; however, i have been watering mine with coffee, water with vinegar, epsom salt solution, and fertilizer. it has one or two yellow leaves once in a while but for the most part the leaves are glossy green. it is in front of a window with southern exposure for about 5 hours a day ( when there is sun). i supplement light with a 40w CFL for about 10-14 hours a day. I only have 2 flower buds on it. I can't tell yet if they will open up or decide to drop. so everyday i take a look at it when i turn on the lights.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2008 at 11:08PM
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snasxs(7-8 VA)

Sue, if you create a warming-up, the large buds will open. To create such a change, you could simply move it from the cool room to a warm sunny room.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2008 at 12:22PM
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Guess what. I don't want to type this too loud in case the infernal plant hears. Ok, I told the gardenia that I don't care if it lives or dies. I took a cutting from it and planted that. I told it, "Go ahead and die, I'll just get another one of you!" It responded by dropping its buds and the leaves were turning yellow. So I figured that I would keep bottom watering it, and add some epsom salts like butterfly suggested. I also found my old miracid. I added those to the water and also added some rusty piece of chicken wire that was soaked in water, the water turned rusty too. The yellow leaves fell off. And today I have noticed that it's starting to put out new green leaves!

I don't expect anything from it, I'll just assume that it will die, and tell it that every day. Then we will see what it does, ha ha!

    Bookmark   March 16, 2008 at 6:46PM
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chills71(Zone 6b Mi)

This really is a great thread. I gave up on gardenia a couple years back. I had one, it would limp through the summers (2) and then leaf out in fall after I took it in only to drop half the leaves almost immediately after I took it back out in late spring. I got exactly 3 blooms off of it, two of them within the week I had brought it home.

Two of my passion flowers bloomed this past week along with the jasmine I rescued from a neighbor's trash 5 years ago, and I don't even have to play mind-games with them


    Bookmark   March 21, 2008 at 8:15PM
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Ha ha! Chills, that is the sato-masochistic fun of gardenias! :) They love to make me think I can't grow anything, they destroy my self esteem and my confidence about growing anything, hee hee!

Oh yeah, here is a picture of that gardenia. I stopped caring. The leaves all turned yellow, the new ones are white (if you try really hard and squint, they *almost* look like flowers). But, there are some green things coming out on the stalks. I think it knows that I can have its replacement here at any time. If it kicks off I'm going to try "Belmont".

With the great advice on soil and growing conditions, I won't fail (I think)!

If you look REALLY close, you can just make out the new leaves.

    Bookmark   April 6, 2008 at 8:18PM
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Mersipoo, I was going to tell you to kick your Gardenias, butt??? Oh boy..
What the heck happened?
Okay, girl, let's get down to serious business!!!!
First, what's the temps in z6? If it's doesn't drop below 45F, set outside..if possible, place in a spot you can reach in case temps dip too low..semi-shady location.
Fresh air, away from the heater, will do a world of good..new leaves will grow in.
A few times during winter months, my 'denia lost leaves, lots of leaves, but after being outside, new growth filled it up.
Your gardenia is definatly alive..look at the stems..GREEN..
Do you have a room in the house that doesn't have a heater? Even an east window will work?
BTW, is your denia in a clay pot? Please don't think I'm telling you what to do, Mersi, I'm certainly NO expert, so mind if I give you a little advice.
Like I said, your denia's alive..You have two choices, either prune, or be patient, and allow new leaves to form..I'd do the latter.
You need to find a space w/o the heater..what type of heater is it?
Many of you might jump on me, but I'm NO fan of Logees..I used to adore their plants. Around 1999, something changed...aside from potting in 2 1/4" pots, they used to be 4", prices hiked up and shipping's outrageous. There are sellers on Ebay that offering healthy tree-shaped fairly large gardenias..Most around 24.99 plus shipping.
If possible, shower once a wk, and mist daily..Purchase a humidifer..I can't breath w/o a humidifer, and plants hate dry air.
Since you've changed fertilizers, add Superthrive too..I love the stuff, it really perks up plants..healthy and stressed. I use 4 drops per gallon of water for healthy plants, stressed plants, or difficult growing, 10 drops per gallon. If you go to their site, www.superthrive.com for .60 they'll send a sample size bottle..I buy ST on Ebay..4oz bottle for 9.99..it lasts about a year, Mersi, I have over 300 house plants..
Again, please don't think I'm telling you what to do..I'm not..But for the first time, in well, 30 yrs of growing plants, (darn, now u guys know my age) I've had my 'denia since the mid-90's..that's after killing one after another..I also discovered buying a tree instead of a gift plant in 4-6" pots are much easier adapting..so, instead of buying plant after plant, (small plants) for 8.99 and up, it's well-worth paying 20 something dollars for a tree, in the long run..
I've heard of Algoflash, but never used it..Is it high in Nitrogen? What percentage? Use a fert high in Nit to help aid leaf growth. Alternate with an acidic fertilizer throughout growing season, stop feeding after Sept/Oct.
I too use sand in my mix, but only Builder's Sand from Home Depot..it contains large chunks..Beach or fine sand holds too much water..
Your soil looks dry..very dry..although I allow soil to dry out, lack of water for days on end will cause leaves to yellow and drop.
The same happens if overwatered.
Mersi, I KNOW your tree will make it..give it time..take outside. (if possible) keep away from the heater. Let soil dry but give a hearty drink when it's thirsty. Add Superthrive once a month. Mist/shower..I wish you luck, girl..and for the record, I do NOT consider myself an expert..theres a lot to learn..I'm only trying to help, okay? hugs, Toni

    Bookmark   April 6, 2008 at 9:41PM
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puglvr1(9b central FL)

Hey Mersiepoo, NEVER, say die. Don't give up girl, there is hope. It does look like some new leaves are sprouting. Anyways, like you said, you can always replace it if you have to... I really like these plants, I guess I will always try and grow these...keep us posted.

Good Luck!!

    Bookmark   April 7, 2008 at 11:22AM
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Hi Toni! Thank you so much for the advice! If you can keep 300 plants alive, as well as gardenias, I definitely consider you an expert! :)

I will try superthrive, is it good for acid loving plants? Algoflash is pretty much for trace minerals, it doesn't have much nitrogen. I've been letting old tea bags ferment (they stink, phew, which is when I know they are ready, ha ha!), and have been adding that to its humidity tray. I figure the fermented leaves will make it easier for the gardenia to eat it, hee hee! :)

I think my big mistake was a combination of withholding iron (couldn't find my darn miracid, yeah I know it's bad but don't have any liquid iron handy), the change in light due to winter coming, and the addition of a gas heater too close to it for comfort. Plus it had so many buds on it and heard me bragging about it (the kiss of DEATH, ha ha!) to my mom! =:O

I'll be truthful, I'm scared to take it outside! I know we have a nice south facing deck and all, lots of sun when it's summer...I'm afraid to breathe on it wrong lest it decide to go into spasms and collapse on the floor, a smoking husk of a plant (I guess that can be misconstrued as me having death breath, hee hee!). ;D Until it gets to be around late april or may, it can get pretty chilly out here.

With the tray under it (I bottom water it), it takes up water when it wants it. Unless I forget to fill the humidity tray, it seems to do fine. :)

Thanks for the info Toni, I really do appreciate your help! :)
About Logees, I just wish they gave better growing instructions with their plants, although the lady I talked to did tell me a few tips. I'll have to check out ebay though, that is a great idea! I never thought of using them to buy plants.

I'll keep you all updated on what's happening, once the weather gets consistently warm and we turn off the gas heater, we shall see what transpires, and if it angers the Gardenia to drop more leaves and explode into flames.

    Bookmark   April 12, 2008 at 9:39PM
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I know I haven't been on for awhile, but figured I would let you all know how the gardenia is messing with me. It's starting to put out new leaves...but they are all pale still. I had added some miracid (a little) ditto epsom salts and fermented tea water. I didn't want to overdose the $#$#@%^! thing, so I went easy.

I might just repot it and heck with it...I'm daring it to die, ha ha!

    Bookmark   May 9, 2008 at 9:01PM
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