Gardenia buds don't open - Knowledgebase Question

Sherman Oaks, CA
Avatar for melvillar
Question by melvillar
April 23, 2006
We have a Monrovia First Love gardenia bush which we planted three years ago. It is in a raised bed where we successfully grew a beautiful gardenia previously. This present bush, however, has never really thrived. It develops buds which turn brown and die before opening. We took a sample to Green Arrow Nursery, where we purchased the plant. They suggested spraying but weren't specific as to type of pest or treatment. Also, several times the leaves have turned yellow, even though we feed the plant on schedule. Can you advise. Thanks.

Answer from NGA
April 23, 2006
Yellowing leaves isn't all that uncommon - gardenias tend to lose their oldest leaves (those toward the center of the plant and lower down are the oldest) and these leaves turn yellow before they drop. As for blooming, flower buds are set when night temperatures are 60-70F and open when temperatures are 70-80F. so, you've pinpointed the most difficult part of growing gardenias: getting those buds to open. The plants require high humidity and lots of water. Gardenias are finicky, and any change of location or humidity or sun can set them back. Spider mites can also cause bud distortion, and mites also thrive in dry conditions. Look on the undersides of the leaves for tiny black specks and whitish webbing. If you find the mites, use insecticidal soap or a neem-based insecticide to control them. Routine misting with water also helps raise the humidity and control mites. I also recommend sinking a few small containers of water into the soil around the plant. As the water evaporates, it will humidify the air immediately around the plant. Hope this helps!

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