The Q&A Archives: Gardenia health

Question: A couple of years ago, we had a hard freeze that nearly killed my gardenia; it only produced a few leaves and a single blossom that year. Last year, the gardenia more than doubled in size, leaves were a healthy, deep green, and plant produced numerous flowers.

We did not have a harsh winter this year, and there was not a major loss of foliage. Landscapers, however, came in and cut the gardenia during cold weather. Since then, the foliage all over the plant began withering.

Usually, new leaves are forming by this time of year; however, there is very little new growth. The late pruning appears to have damaged the plant. Is there anything we can do to save it?

Answer: Winter pruning typically doesn't harm a gardenia (as shown by the winter dieback yours suffered a few years back). However, if it was a mild winter and the gardenia was severely pruned - say more than a third of it was taken off - then it could be showing signs of stress. This would be because it wasn't dormant when it was pruned and the pruning was extensive. If the root system is healthy it will recover later this spring. You can help it become full and green with careful tip cutting (just an inch or two from the tip of each stem), by feeding and by watering as usual.

Best wishes with your garden.

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