Gardenia spotty leaves--please help me

HonhonJanuary 20, 2013

I'm not a gardener but am very fond of flower plants, and wanted to try to take care of one by myself. So, around over a year ago I bought a small pot of Gardenia Jasminoides home and looked up on how to care for it.

In the last spring I have repotted it once to a bigger pot (30 cm in diameter and depth). I kept some of the old soil because I didn't want to cut off some roots. The soil I used was recommended by the florist at the store and I don't really know the details.

I am aware that it requires the soil with pH around 5-6 to grow. I read it somewhere that some gardeners add a bit of vinegar in the water to keep the soil acidic. So I bought a pH tester to test the pH when I mix some vinegar in and water it with that mixture averagely every one or two months.

The same goes with the fertilizer, I was recommended a fertilizer by the florist at the store (it's a liquid fertilizer). I fertilise my Gardenia every two months averagely. (I didn't fertilise it as much in the end of fall until now because of my exams...I just forgot.)

The temperature in the room where it stays is kept between 17-24 C (lowest at night and highest in day time).

It bloomed when I first bought it over a year ago near the end of its first summer. When the first winter came it stopped blooming. When the spring approached again, it started to bud and bloom constantly until last month. (so it continued to bloom for almost 8 months.)

I live in Norway so the day time here fluctuates very much. In Summer--from May to August, there is no night time (if you've ever heard of the midnight sun, this is it.) In winter there are barely 3-7 hours of day time depends on the month. It never receives direct sunlight, always under a shade.

I put some moss over the soil to keep the soil humid. When I repotted it in Spring there were a few earthworms inside. I water it every 4-5 days averagely. The pot has a hole for draining below, so I highly doubt its roots have ever drown. I have forgotten to water it sometimes during my exam season--maximum two weeks (and that only happened twice--poor earthworms, I hope they are still there).

Around ten months ago (before I repotted it) my poor plant was suffering from a type of plant scale (brown shell). In the beginning I noticed that some stems had this 1-2 brown scale on them, I did not know what it was but after 2-4 weeks the number grew exponentially so I suspected that they were some sort of microorganisms and went to the store to find some pesticide for it. I found a specific tablet to put into the soil near the root for this type of scale (it had a photo on the package of what it was for). I came home and used an old toothbrush to physically scrub every single braches to get rid of those scales and applied the tablet as instructed. Then they were gone. (So I think the gardenia had suffered from the scale for around two months)

Now if you look at the leaves, they are not yellow but they are not completely green, they are partially light green and deep green. Some of the leaves (especially new ones) are bright green. This started around 3-4 months after I bought it. At first I thought it was a sign of chlorosis (due to the day lenght in Norway...and maybe the soil is too alkaline and the iron cannot be properly absorbed) but now I am not sure what is wrong with it and I don't know how to fix it. I assume that the leaves should be all deep green. I have told you everything that happened and what I have done to it. Could you please tell me what is wrong with it? T.T I need help and I am at my wits end. This is the first plant I seriously bought and took care of, I am emotionally attached to it. Thank you.

Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I dont grow these I cant be certain but by looking at the leaf right above your index finger and the others in focus I would think you may have mites as well.

    Bookmark   January 20, 2013 at 10:35AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Hi, I have checked for mites but there are no mites. :

    Bookmark   January 30, 2013 at 3:38PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Did you check with a Magnifying glass and look very carefully? Stare at one spot for a least a minute under the leaves.

To me, that is what my leaves look like from mite damage as Wes says.


    Bookmark   January 30, 2013 at 4:00PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

I agree that it looks like mite damage, and from what I can see of the soil, over-watering might be a problem, too. If you have the means to evaluate the pH of your water, you might note how much white vinegar it takes to lower your water's ph to 5.0-5.5, then add that amount of vinegar to the water each time you water or fertigate.

Usually, it you're using a soluble fertilizer, there won't be Fe deficiencies caused by a scarcity of that nutrient in the soil. More often, it's caused by a high pH causing the element to become insoluble. Lowering the pH of the soil solution is usually all that's needed to make the Fe available.

Try misting your plant every 4 days with a 50/50 mix of rubbing alcohol and water. Make sure you get full coverage, including leaf undersides and leaf axils.

Best luck!


    Bookmark   January 30, 2013 at 4:15PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Just a side thought..

Usually a poor a gardenia stressed and nutrient deprived from a mix that holds water for too long, or that may cause some root rot usually makes it very vulnerable to spider mite infestation. The both go hand and hand.


    Bookmark   January 30, 2013 at 4:36PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

@meyermike Since I was not sure about the mite damage, I went to buy the pesticide for it and used it, but nothing has improved so far. It's been several weeks...
@Tapla Yes, I usually measure the pH using the pH indicator from my lab. I always make sure it's around 5. I use the same fertilizer as the one I use for my Hydrangea.
@meyermike Hah! So it might not be about the mites outside but inside the soil??? I didn't know there is no such thing? My gardenia's soil has never had the chance to hold water for too long though, because of the big hole underneath the pot everything went out. It took less than a week for the soil to be dry again. Now spring has arrived it is growing so many new leaves and flowers all over the place it becomes very hard for me to check everything. If I want to change the soil I should change it now right? Will it solve anything? If there are mites leaving on the roots, changing soil won't remove them right? I just notice something but the leaves of my gardenia never falls, like never ever. The oldest leaves look the worse. With all those yellow spot as shown in the picture. Please help. :

    Bookmark   April 11, 2013 at 6:47AM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
Culinary Herbs?
I need to buy some culinary herbs. Where is the best...
Reusing infested soil
Last year, my outdoor container-grown kale suffered...
Container Garden Vacation Watering
I'll be leaving for my wedding at the end of June and...
gritty mix modification question
Sorry, I had a response to this question before but...
glowing pots
Not sure if this is the right place for this but I...
Sponsored Products
Loloi Gardenia Area Rug - 3 ft. Round - GARDHGA04BLIV300R
$89.00 | Hayneedle
Literary Library Candle
$20.99 | Dot & Bo
Antica Farmacista Prosecco Diffuser
$69.00 | FRONTGATE
Wall Mounted Clear Glass Soap Dish
Modern Indoor/Outdoor Area Rug: Loloi Rugs Rugs Gardenia Lifestyle Collection
$69.97 | Home Depot
Gardenia Faux Linen Sheer Single Panel Curtain Panel, 50 X 108
$28.95 | Bellacor
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™