The Q&A Archives: Sufficient Acid Fertilizer for Gardenia

Question: I have my first Gardenia growing in a container and have several questions as I am being told different things by different people.

What are the symptoms for the items listed below as I have been told that yellowing of some of the leaves is a sign for all of them, is this correct?

Too much fertilizer
Too little fertilizer
Planted too high
Planted too low
Can a gardenia take morning sun in the southwest or full shade only?

Answer: Gardenia plants are not well-adapted for the Southwest so they do tend to suffer, which often shows up as yellow leaves. They are native to areas with organically rich, acid soil, more rainfall and humidity, less aridity, etc. You have been given correct information, in that yellow leaves can be caused by many things including lack of nitrogen, insufficient light, water-logged soil (plant roots need oxygen to thrive), dry soil, or iron deficiency. If the older bottom leaves are yellow, but new growth is green, it's usually a lack of nitrogen. If new leaves are yellow, with green veins, it's usually a lack of iron. Finally, transplant shock and a move to a new environment (from the grower to the nursery to your home) can contribute to yellowing. If new growth shows up as green, that might be the problem. Try to isolate each of these possibilities one at a time to determine the problem. If you want the gardenia to bloom, it must have some sunlight. Morning sun is best. Hot afternoon sun is too intense. Good luck with your gardenia!

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