Severe Gardenia growth and bloom problem

rikiritaJuly 2, 2010

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. I'll be happy to supply pictures of my gardenia.


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You state in your question that you repotted the gardenia in Miracle Gro garden soil. Garden soil is for your garden outside, in the earth, not for pots.
You must keep your plant in a pot because of your cold weather. You must use a potting soil, not garden soil.
You have to get the plant out of the garden soil if it is in a pot.
Go to a home center and buy Perilte, (improves drainage, not expensive) and potting soil. Try to get organic potting soil if you can, if not just get potting soil.
Gardenias don't mind being in a small pot, so don't put it in a really big pot per the size of the plant.
Don't feed it. It's under stress.
Buy a moisture meter that you can stick in the pot to see when you should water it. 2.00 at discount stores like Walmart.
Oh, mix the potting soil and Perlite together, about 60-75 percent potting mix with the rest Perilte.
Gardenias need excellent drainage.
Put it in the shade not full sun for about 3-4 weeks and see if it lives.
Only water it when the moisture meter reads dry.
Use your tap water.
Don't do anything else to it.
Bring it in the house when it gets close to 40 degrees at night where you live.
Check back in the fall and post on here if you have questions about winter care.
Gardenias love humidity. Consider buying a humidifier for it in the winter, or keep it in the bathroom for shower humidity in the winter. (I'm not kidding).
Remember, no food, water when dry with moisture meter, no full sun for at least 3 weeks and don't spray it with anything else.
I hope it lives for you.
No cornmeal, no mulch, no food, no bug spray, nothing.
Just water.
Good Luck!

    Bookmark   July 2, 2010 at 10:08PM
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mehitabel(z6 MO)

Good advice from butterfly, but I would like to add a couple of comments.

With a gardenia in a long decline, I would suspect root rot, as it's very common in gardenias. This can happen from either being kept too or too wet (watered too often). A pot that is too large will also cause this problem. Gobs of soaking wet soild gradually start to fill the pot as the roots shrink and shrink. Sickly new growth and inability to hold buds would definitely follow.

For a plant showing this, I would repot into the smallest clay pot that would fit the roots. This is to make sure that root rot does not get started (or advance). When you have it unpotted, if the root ball seems dinky and the medium in the pot is wet, then the diagnosis of root rot would be definite.

You can't always bring them back from a severe case of root rot, but a small clay pot is the start if it's possible.

The cobwebs worry me-- could be spider mites. Mites and other pests are very likely to attack a sick plant, so it's possible your gardenia has root rot *and* mites. Either one could kill it.

I would at least try washing it with soapy water. Even tho butterfly's advice to do nothing to it is excellent, if it were mine, I think I would spray with a miticide. Ordinary pest-killers won't do for this. Has to be a killer specifically for mites.

    Bookmark   August 17, 2010 at 4:04PM
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Butterfly4you ALWAYS gives great advice..She has helped me a lot..

So without having the time to read her post, I hope I am on the same page..

Please get it out of that mix asap! I call it garbage for
It also sound like it is being attacked by more than one pest, especially spider mites..They suck the color and life right out of your leaves..

Treat it with Neem, asap>.Yes...I always have, and have never had a problem..In fact I treated my brothers a my friends with Neem after a long attack of mites and scale all winter for them. They looked exactly as you described..They are rich and green now..
I will post pictures when I get home..
Do not spray in the sun, and use very little per quart. I capful in warm water with a few drops of soap..

Stop feeding it immediately..If there is something wrong with your plant and it is sick, stressed out, and the roots will not take up the nutrients. It will only hasten it's demise.
Keep cornmeal and and other additive out of the container.
use a soilless mix since you live way up there that has great drainage, dries rapidly, is porous, and does not allow salt build up from fertilizers..Gardenias need very good, in fact excellent drainage and roots need to breathe!

I would make sure, unless you know how to water these very well and properly, to keep it in pots just a couple inches bigger than your roots so your chances of root rot is greatly supressed..also I would use clay pots to allow air to penetrate through the walls, or plastic, so you can judge easier when lifting it when to water again.
I would use wooden dowels to check for moisture, since I found that I killed a many of plant with false readings on moisture meters..

I would also leave it out of the sun at least for a few days if not weeks, until you see the leaves firm up again, knowing they are hydrating properly....

After the transpalnt into the new mix a main priority, and the spray of Neem, watch the difference in your plant. Then come back and we can direct you from there..

Once your plant is is a great mix, the pests are killed, and it comes back to restored health, then we can talk about fertilizers...

Please don't expect a quick recovery if the roots are badly damaged..If not, then once the bugs are gone and the roots breathm watch it come back faster than you think.. We'll see..


Good luck


    Bookmark   August 19, 2010 at 1:04PM
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