Help my jasmine pleeeaaassseee

madreselvaMarch 21, 2011

I've only ever had one jasmine and its slow, mottled death traumatized me for years BUT recently, because it looked so healthy and full of buds and full of promise, and because spring is coming, I finally gave in and bought another.

For three weeks, it has been happy. It is in a SW facing window and gets bright, indirect light. I set in on a bowl of stones in water to increase humidity. Once it began flowering, I did not let the soil dry out, watering every day or every other day. A few leaves turned dark and crispy towards the bottom, and some developed yellow spots and I removed these immediately. In other words, I have been very attentive.

And yet, in the last four or five days, the gardenia has begun to deteriorate. The flowers have dried out seemingly overnight and though it still has plenty of buds, they are not opening anymore and the flowers aren't even fragrant. I admit that I forgot to water it for two days . . . maybe it is a quick reaction to this?

What have I done wrong?

More importantly, how can I nurse it back to health?

Any advice, any experience will be extremely helpful!

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flora_uk(SW UK 8/9)

What plant is this? A jasmine (and if so what type) or a gardenia? Without knowing its identity it's hard to comment. But it does sound as if you might have overwaterd it.

    Bookmark   March 21, 2011 at 2:09PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

Agree - over nurturing. When you over-water you impair root function - either by filling all the soil pores that should be filled with air, with water, or by rotting roots. Either way, the reaction of the plant is the same. The plant, through chemical messengers, senses that the leaves are not getting the water they need. Plants then 'think' they are in the middle of a drought and start shedding blooms first, then leaves, then fruit, then branches, in order to conserve water. In essence, the plant dies of thirst in a sea of plenty. Further adding to the problem 'might' be any recent fertilizing you might have done - especially if it contributed to an already high level of salts in the soil, which adds to the difficulty the plant would have getting water into dehydrating cells.

I would depot & examine the roots, If they are black/slimy/sour smelling, you'll need to cut them back to sound tissue. If roots seem ok, leave the plant out of the pot and set it on paper bags or newspaper. This will pull the excess water from the root mass & allow the roots to 'breathe'. I would urge you to look into learning how important your soil choice is to the well being of your plants. A proper soil; allows you to water copiously - to the point that water drains very freely from the drain hole, without having to worry about root rot.

You might wish to consider checking the soil deep in the pot with a wooden dowel or skewer. Stick it all the way to the pot bottom & then remove. If it comes out wet or dark/cool - continue to withhold water until it comes out clean/cool/dry.

We can talk about soils, watering, fertilizing, and how to care for your plants in as much depth as you'd like. Ball's in your court. ;-)


    Bookmark   March 21, 2011 at 2:46PM
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Madreselva, I too am wondering if your plant is a Jasmine or Gardenia? If you don't know, can you post a picture? If you can't post a pic, Google, Gardenia and Jasmine pictures.

Jasmine and Gardenia are two different plants, need different care.

Gardenias prefer cooler, more humid temperatures to keep blooms alive, Jasmine needs warmer temps. Both require fresh, flowing air.

You said you watered daily or every other day.
A plant potted in soil should not be watered daily, unless it's extremely rootbound, 'roots growing out of drainage holes.'
If that's the case, your mystery plant needs a larger pot.
The problem repotting when a plant is budding, 'unless you're extremely careful,' buds can drop.

Another thing. You said your plant is sitting on pebbles and water. How much water is in the tray? The water level shouldn't touch the bottom of pot, otherwise it'll be sucked into the drainage holes, keeping roots wet.
The pot has drainage holes, right??
Would you happen to know pot size?

Foliage yellows for different reasons..most cases are over-watering or insects. To be on the safe side, inspect for white cottony patches, 'webbs,' and brown lumps..Are leaves sticky?

Whether your plant is a Jasmine or Gardenia, neither like constantly wet soil. In fact, soil should dry a little before adding more water.
Pebbles and water is fine, as long as water level is below pot.

Hope this helped..Toni

    Bookmark   March 21, 2011 at 3:33PM
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The label identifies the plant as "Gardenia Jasminoides." (I do have a photo but hate posting on gardenweb as it's such a hassle. Sorry guys.). The plant has dark green, thick, waxy leaves, and the flowers are large and heavily scented, white at first and more buttery yellow a couple of days after blooming. From what I know, this is a Jasmine. Is this right?

I depotted as you suggested, A. Roots wind all around the soil from bottom to almost the top, and thankfully, I see no signs of rot - no smell, no mushiness. Maybe the plant is a bit pot bound even? The soil IS dark and moist under the roots.

Toni, the pot is in a plastic pot within a plastic pot, outer pot has no drainage holes but inner pot does, so no fear of the roots sucking up water. The outer one is a 1.5 qt pot. There is a two inch gap between the bottoms of the inner and outer pots and there was a little water collected there, away from the roots.

Also, I don't see any signs of insects or any other disease.

So, is it overwatering?

As always, thank you for all the information. You guys are the best!

    Bookmark   March 21, 2011 at 6:18PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

It could be over-watering, but to guard against that for now, you might use the wooden dowel trick described above to check the soil for moisture deep in the pot. It would also be to your advantage to push a wick up into the drain hole. Watering properly includes watering until a good % of the water applied exits the pot. If your soil is overly water-retentive, watering properly can leave your plant in jeopardy of root rot. If you water over the sink & allow the wick to dangle several inches below the pot bottom, it will remove the largest part of water from the saturated layer of soil at the bottom of the pot. Tilting your pot at a 45* angle after you're done watering will also facilitate the removal of additional water from the soil that would otherwise be reluctant to give up its spot in the soil low in the pot.

Also helpful would be to buy a test kit for ponds or aquariums (under $5) and test your water. If it's from a municipal water supply, it's undoubtedly high in pH. See how much vinegar or citric acid (stores that sell wine-making supplies) it takes to lower a given volume of water to a pH of 4.5-5.0 and make a note of it. Then, each time you water, add that amount of acid to your water. This will neutralize your water's alkalinity and make it easier for your plant to take up nutrients it has difficulty acquiring at higher pH levels. It will also help to stabilize soil pH and stop the normal upward creep you see when using water high in alkalinity. High levels of alkalinity and accompanying pH issues are especially prevalent in heavier soils you can't properly flush, illustrating the benefit if using the wick so you CAN flush the soil with less worry about over-watering.


    Bookmark   March 22, 2011 at 8:06PM
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Hi Madreselva..You're plant is definately a Gardenia. I see where the name can be confusing. Aside from Gardenia Jasminoides, it's also called Gardenia Augusta.

Other common names: Cape Jasmine and Cape Jessamine. One day I plan on researching why Jasmine and Jessamine are used. Meanings.

I have a plant, Murraya Paniculata, that is closely related to Citrus. Common names are Orange Jasmine and Orange Jessamine, yet this plant isn't related to Jasmine whatsoever. Confusing.

No need for a pic..your description of its flowers tells it all. First glowing white then a buttery, creamy yellow as flower ages. And very very fragrant. Gardenia blooms are larger than Jasmines, too.

Are you new to plants? Although Gardenias are one of the lovliest, fragrant plants around, they're not the easiest, especially when grown indoors.

Some people go through one Gardenia after another. If by chance, 'hope I'm wrong,' your Gardenia fails, don't feel bad, and don't give up.

When tropicals are shipped from Fl, (Perfect climate) to other locations, there's some stress involved. If they're sent to a green house, where artificial climate is controlled to suit a plants need, they're happy. Happy plants mean healthy plants.
Once they leave the green house, brought into a home, lower humidity, less fresh circulating air, and certain amount of light, the change is stressful.

Since Gardenias are extremely fussy, it takes effort and work to keep them going.

If you ever get a chance, stop at the Fragrant Plant Forum here on GW. There are numerous discussions about Gardenias. Although sad, some stories are very humorous.

Now, the pot within the pot. You said there was a little water in the outer container. How long after watering did you check the amount of accumulated water? Days, weeks?
Is it possible water evaporated before you lifted the inner pot?
Can you measure the diameter of each pot..On top, from one side, directly across the opposite side. This will tell you pot size.
Standard pots 'usually' run in even numbered sizes. 2", 4", 6", and up.

Soil shouldn't stay constantly wet. It's needs to dry between waterings. Especially on cloudy, cool days.
When was it last watered?

Keep your Gardenia far from a heating vent. A cool, humid, brightly lit room is best.

I don't know where you're located, but if temps are 50F or warmer, crack open a window, at least an hour a day. This helps air circulation.

I mist leaves religiously, but do not aim at a plant when in bud or bloom. You can spray, using a fine mist, above or around your Gardenia.

I really hope your Gardenia makes it this time around. It's a tricky plant. Toni

    Bookmark   March 22, 2011 at 11:02PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

I grow this Gardenia, I think, which is called Gardenia jasminoides 'Radicans.'
Unfortunately, it came in a container with peat moss potting soil, and half of the
plant died as a result. I re-potted the plant and managed to save it.

I keep it outdoors with my Citrus, protected in a cold-frame.


    Bookmark   March 22, 2011 at 11:36PM
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Hey ya doing?

Do you think it was repotting your Gardenia that saved it, or the fact it was placed in your cold-frame? :)
I know how much you love Peat, lol.

Was it you who said you couldn't or had problems keeping citrus some time back? Toni

    Bookmark   March 22, 2011 at 11:44PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Hey, Toni, I'm doing alright!
It's been raining like crazy out here in the West.

I re-potted the Gardenia last Summer, and it recovered from the hard-packed peat moss.
This Winter, I put the Gardenia in my cold-frame during the past months because I don't have room
anywhere else.

I haven't even had my Citrus for one whole year. I bought my first Blood Orange March 31, 2010....
so it definitely wasn't I who had trouble with Citrus - I haven't had them long enough to have trouble ;-)



    Bookmark   March 23, 2011 at 12:17AM
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Josh, join the's been raining, non-stop for days. I need to go to the pet store, but afraid to drive in the rain. No cell phone if something went wrong.

Last wk we had three beautiful days, near 70F. A tease, I say. Mother Nature is playing games.
It's 43F now..the rest of the wk, cold, 20's and 30's, snow and rain. And NO sun.

Josh, when you say your citrus tree was packed in Peat, do you mean to say it was ALL Peat? No other mediums?
If so, that's strange.

97% of my citrus came from two different nurseries in Fl. The mix was well-draining. If it contained Peat, it surely wasn't obvious.
One lime came from TX. Again, soil was well-draining, and no peat.
I guess it depends where citrus are grown commercially. Perhaps some places pot in Peat, while others use a variety of soils/mediums.

It's also possible, 'since peat is light' they figure it's more economical as far as shipping.
If you shop at garden centers for outdoor plants in spring, you'll see most plants are potted in peat. I'd bet this is done to lower shipping costs.

Josh, I wasn't sure who said they had problems growing Cirus..Didn't mean to point a finger at you, okay? :) Toni

    Bookmark   March 23, 2011 at 4:18PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Thanks! No worries, just wanted to be clear that I haven't had problems with Citrus.
My Citrus are from Four Winds Growers. The mix seems to be sand, peat, and a bit of wood shavings.

The Gardenia was growing in a straight peat mess. No idea which nursery it came from, though.
You're right about peat - growers use it for economical reasons: it's a cheap filler, and it's
readily available. Plus, when plants die, you have to go back for more! ;-)


    Bookmark   March 23, 2011 at 7:36PM
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Afternoon Josh,

I'm glad your citrus is doing well.. Last pic you posted, or I saw, your citrus was doing great.

It's odd your Gardenia was potted in straight Peat. You should have complained to the owner. Like they care..:(
But it was probably done to save money on shipping. Peat is very light, we both know shipping cost is calculated by weight. Guess they leave it up the buyer to repot in a proper mix.

Most nursery owners motto is, get plants, sell them. In and out.
Same applies to garden plants in spring. They don't want to fuss other than watering. At the end of the season, remaining plants are marked down, 'as low as .10,' eithter sold or tossed.

I can imagine you repotting the, don't mean to laugh, but repotting from a plant potted in straight Peat is a pain in the butt. Toni

    Bookmark   March 24, 2011 at 2:44PM
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