The Q&A Archives: Gardenia Care

Question: I planted about 14 gardenias along the entryway to my house. They get partial sun and I water them daily to keep the soil moist. I have have 3 of them die and another 2 of them are not doing well. The others are doing great. What suggestions do you have to help them grow and flower well? Do I need to test the acid level in the soil? If so, how do I do that and how do I control the acid level?

Answer: Daily watering might be excessive, even in hot summer weather. It's better to water deeply twice a week, allowing the soil to dry out slightly between waterings. When soils are saturated they are depleted of oxygen. Roots need oxygen as well as moisture. Try mulching over the bare soil with several inches of compost or peat moss to both help slow evaporation and to help acidify the soil. As water filters through the compost or peat moss, acidifying agents will be dissolved and will be rinsed into the soil. You can hose the plants off daily to help increase humidity, which they like, but don't intentionally water them daily. Instead, water them deeply twice a week and just lightly hose them off each morning. I hope you see an improvement soon!

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