The Q&A Archives: Gardenia care

Question: Apparently, my potted gardenia was not planted properly. It is located on the corner next to a sidewalk. The soil used was a miracle gro mixed with the ground soil which didn't seem very good. All leaves have turned yellow, however, leaves are dying off quicker than new ones are coming in. Any suggestions for salvation?

Answer: Gardenias need at least a half day of full sun to bloom, but at the same time, the hot afternoon sun can be tough on them. Morning sun is best, so an eastern location would be ideal. You might also try a southern or western exposure with some filtered shade. Buds that turn black or drop and bottom leaves that are yellowed are sure signs that gardenias aren't getting enough light. Leaf drop can also be caused by improper soil pH (gardenia require 5 to 5.5pH - on the acid side.) Yellowing and leaf drop are also signs of various soil nutrient deficiencies such as nitrogen, zinc, and iron. Finally, if the air is too dry, your plant will drop buds and leaves. Try sprinkling the plant every morning to increase humidity (and also discourage spider mites!). At this point I would feed with an acidified fertilizer such a Miracid and mulch over the top of the soil with peat moss which is also a source of acid for your plant. You can also force growth towards the inner most part of the plant by lightly shearing all the growing tips. Hope these suggestions help!

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