The Q&A Archives: Gardenias Turning Brown

Question: I just planted 15 gardenias, we have good drainage and followed planting instructions exactly. They were doing very well when we first planted 2 weeks ago. Now they started drying out. I have two that look completely dead and 3 more that have leaves turning yellow and brown. They do get full sun all day long. Is there anyway to revive the ones that look dead and save the ones with yellow and brown leaves.

Answer: Gardenias are fussy plants. They like to be given ample water, ample feeding and ample warmth. The soil they are growing in must be acidic, otherwise the leaves turn brown and the buds drop. They need regular treatment with iron and doses of aluminum sulfate to keep the soil acid and keep iron chlorosis from turning the leaves a pale color. Feed them monthly during the growing season with an acid food, one prepared for camellias, azaleas and rhododendrons. Many successful gardeners use Miracle-Gro or Miracid as a foliar spray and as an aid in correcting iron deficiencies.

Gardenias prefer being planted in a place where they get full sun in the morning and shade in the afternoon. Plant them in the ground with the crown (the part where the stem arises from the ground) raised slightly above the existing soil. This will help prevent root rots. Gardenias do not like their roots disturbed by cultivation. Cover the area underneath gardenias with a thick layer of mulch. Once established in a place they like and given proper care, gardenias will bloom their hearts out, providing an abundance of fragrant flowers for you to enjoy.

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