Ask a Question forum: Why won't my Gardenias stop turning yellow???

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Oct 28, 2016 11:12 AM CST
I bought 2 lush green crown jewel gardenias from a local nursery. When I put them in the ground, later that week the leaves started turning yellow from the bottom up. I read a bunch of post and decided to add Epsom salt to them. This did not help, as they are getting worse. I am only watering them once a week. I live in eastern North Carolina, so the soil is sandy but they were added with soil. I'm at a loss, they just keep getting worse.
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Name: Elaine
Sarasota, Fl
The one constant in life is change
Cat Lover Master Gardener: Florida Tropicals Multi-Region Gardener Vegetable Grower Region: Florida
Herbs Orchids Birds Garden Ideas: Level 2 Garden Sages Celebrating Gardening: 2015
Oct 28, 2016 8:09 PM CST
Hi Alissa and welcome. Gardenias really need very acidic soil, so if your sandy soil is at all on the alkaline side, I'd dig up your little gardenia plants and pot them up into some new potting soil for the short term, then you'll need to amend the area where you want them to grow with lots of compost, peat and other acidic organic amendments to lower the pH of the soil. Not just a shovel or bucket full, a whole wheelbarrow load for each bush to start with, then keep on every few months to add amendments or the soil will tend to revert back to its natural alkaline state.

Another thing that can cause chlorosis of the leaves very quickly is if your irrigation water is also high pH (alkaline). Do you have "hard" water where you are? Or are you irrigating with well water - probably high pH ? You can find out quite quickly by getting a water test kit at any aquarium store, or if you know anybody with a swimming pool, borrow their test kit. If it turns out your water is above neutral pH of 7 you can begin right away to water your gardenias using a watering can and adding a couple of teaspoonfuls per gallon of white vinegar to the water.

If it's the soil and not the water, you can fix that over time by just amending regularly every few months with organic stuff like peat, and compost. If it's your water, though, I think I'd consider keeping your gardenias in pots so that you can water them by hand going forward.

"Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm." –Winston Churchill

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