Gardenia Dropping Leaves & Buds

naomi_bible(5 Ohio)October 2, 2009

I live in Central Ohio and this past week the weather turned cold. I have my gardenia in a bay window that faces due West. I recieved this plant in May - it was about 6 inches tall. It has doubled in size since then and about a week ago, it had a dozen buds on it and looked very healthy. Now suddenly the leaves are falling off as are the buds. I have not changed the watering. I repotted it a few months ago. The only thing that has changed is - like i said - the weather outside has turned cold. I didn't turn on my furnace til the temps dipped into the 60's.

Any ideas as to how i can keep this plant alive? And what i have done wrong to cause the leaf and bud drops?

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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

The first thing that comes to mind, by default, is over-watering. The second, is an accumulation of soluble salts in the soil from fertilizers and tapwater as a result of watering in small sips. There are other possibilities, but more info would be needed.


    Bookmark   October 2, 2009 at 3:04PM
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naomi_bible(5 Ohio)

Thanks for your help Al. What more information do you need?

I do keep the soil moist - as i read that that was important - but not overly moist. Truly, it was doing fine until this week. I had been putting iron in the soil because the leaves were not as green as they used to be. Plus i was putting Jobes plant sticks in the soil - 3 in a 6 inch pot. Again- all those things seemed to have no adverse effects then suddenly, almost over night, everythng changed.

What other information do you need? i'm desperate to keep this plant alive as it was a gift from my children. My mom tried for all her adult life to grow gardenias indoors but all she managed to do was kill them. As i said before, I live in Central Ohio. And have the plant in a sunny bay window that faces due west.


    Bookmark   October 3, 2009 at 4:20AM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

If you are fertilizing on a regular basis and you suspect an Fe (iron) deficiency, you needn't add Fe because it's already there. The Fe would have become unavailable because the pH had risen to too high a level. All you would have needed to do is add a little vinegar to your water to raise pH and make the Fe available. THAT IS, if you really did have an Fe deficiency to start with. Adding Fe w/o adding manganese (Mn), will also cause an antagonistic deficiency of Mn, one of the symptoms of which, is chlorotic leaves ...... I'm not a fan of adding elements singularly, or compounds that supply only one or two elements to plantings unless I'm very I've isolated an actual deficiency or I KNOW what needs to be done to prevent one. E.g., yellow leaves could be a symptom of a deficiency of any one or more of several nutrients, magnesium (Mg) being a likely possibility. Yellow leaves can be caused because of impaired root function causing nutritional deficiencies, or leaves that are in the process of abscising (being shed) because of a drought response caused by over OR under-watering .... or even too high a level of soluble salts in the soil.

Here is what I would do:
* Remove the fertilizer sticks & flush, flush, flush the soil - 5, 6, maybe 7 times
* The last 2 times I flush, I would add an ounce of vinegar to the water to remove excess Fe
* Depot the plant & set it on newspaper until the soil has dried down so it's just damp
* Take the opportunity while the plant is drying down to add a wick to the pot that hangs an inch or two below the pot. When you begin watering again, saturate the soil when you do water, but after watering, tilt the pot at a 45* angle and allow the wick to dangle until it stops dripping
* The first time your plant needs watering after you flush, fertilize with MG 30-10-10 at 1/2 the recommended strength
* Include vinegar in your irrigation water and fertilizer solution at 1 oz/gallon
* There is no calcium (Ca) or Mg in most soluble fertilizers, and Miracle-Gro is no exception. I suggested the MG because it derives it's N from urea and as urea breaks down it forms acid that helps keep pH in line. As a Ca source, you should sprinkle a little gypsum on top of the soil when things get settled. After you do this, include Epsom salts in the fertilizer solution @ 1/4 tsp/gallon of fertilizer solution every time you fertilize. This provides the Mg missing in MG fertilizers and keeps the Ca:Mg ratio in balance, which is necessary to prevent what is called an antagonistic deficiency.

If your plant isn't too far gone, it should turn around. Please don't be bashful about asking questions if there is anything you don't understand.


    Bookmark   October 3, 2009 at 11:28AM
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