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Posted by benflower NC 7 (My Page) on
Sat, Mar 7, 09 at 15:57

Just cut back three of my trailing gardenias to the ground-- which have been in front yard for 7 years. Never had any problems with them. a few weeks ago, I noticed browning on the leaves. I sprayed them with soap water, thinking maybe whiteflies, although I did not see a profusion of them after shaking the plants. Today, these were totally brown and looked like they were dying. The others which are directly behind them seem to be in different stages of dying-- brown leaves, etc.

Whiteflies?? I more or less ignored them through the winter, which is what I usually do-- what now-- should I cut the rest back to the ground and hope for the best or try some other insecticide. I hate to lose them all--there are 10 planted together.

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: whiteflies??

It is way too early in the season for whitefly. Did you first lift all the branches and check beneath for signs of moles, voles or mice tunneling under the plants? We have just had a very cold winter and mice are notorious for burrowing under evergreen ground covers for protection, gnawing on the roots for food. Or your plants may have just been nipped by frost which could cause leaf browning. Who knows? Gardenias can sometimes be a challenge and we never know what has upset them.

You mention spraying with a soap. What type of soap? I would guess that it was a dishwashing type soap that contained antiseptic/anti-bacterial properties. This formula is death to plants. Never use these types of soaps. Acceptable ones are lemon detergent with no additives of any type or Method 'Go Naked" dishwashing soap (available at Target).

What ever...cut back the Gardenias, feed them with a fertilizer for acid loving plants. They should recover, unless there is extensive mouse damage.

RE: whiteflies??

The two nights of 8oF nipped some of my gardenia's branches as far as 8" back (and it's not 7 years old, so the dieback might be more on larger plants). They're only so cold hardy unless you have 'Klein's Hardy' or one of those that are tested to subzero temps. I say cut back the branches below the browning and see what happens over the next three months. Or cut the rest to the ground and see if they recover. Just trimmed mine today and it looks a little sad now, but will be much happier in the summer. Plus, more of that heavenly fragrance--gardenias bloom on new wood.

RE: whiteflies??

Thanks for your responses. The soap I used was Joy dishwashing detergent diluted in a gallon sprayer. I don't think it was the cold, because they started browning and then gradually went dead all over the plants. Also, it seems to be spreading from the front plants to the back (?) Don't know what this could be. If not whiteflies, some sort of disease? Anyway, I''m going to cut the rest back today and fertilize as you suggested and hope for the best. OH, and I will check for burrowing damage. Thanks!

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