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Tropical Plants/gardenia trouble

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Question
about 2 months ago my husband brought home a gardenia bush to fill in a empty spot in our flower bed. It was from a small chain nursery and for the most part looked good. The leaves were green and it had buds all over, not sure if it matters but they apparently chopped it to bits right before my husband bought it. They pruned it to where it had no top branches, it was sort of just a flat circle of branches that layed on the ground.
  Where I planted it it gets about 5 hours of sunlight a day and I water it every other day. The soil was not very acidic so I was told to pour used coffee grounds on him and that would help.
  Although he is still flowering, we are losing alot of leaves. They all turn yellow. He has no fungi or bugs that I can see. There were ants on him but after a good rain they all went away. What could be causing the yellowing and leaf fall? He is just planted in regular potting soil.

Answer
Hi Amber, you picked a very high maintenance plant that is indeed an acid lover; that said, I am going to assume that the soil needs to be augmented, to lower the PH level, so pull any mulch back and spread a half cup of corn meal about a foot away from the main stem...then mix up the following in 2 gallons of water...4 tbls of liquid Iron, and half a cup of Epsom salt, and pour over the corn meal..this should lower the PH...you may have to do this periodically if the yellowing comes back,,,now spray the leaves (underside) with a horticultural oil...(Ultra-fine is a good one) to eradicate any White-Fly larvae,,,the nemesis of Gardenias, but do this late afternoon when the Sun has cooled,,,otherwise you could burn the leaves,,,(oil based)...then wash the leaves of with a hose the next morning before the heat of the day. You will wash the oil of along with any dead insects. One other tip, make sure that there is good drainage,,they will drop their leaves if the roots are continually wet, albeit they like a damp soil,,,,not wet!!...a good way is to plant it so the plants roots are actually a little mounded so any excess water will not congregate on the roots (they have a shallow root system). A good practice is to always plant your plants or bushes at the same level as they came in the nursery container,,,in some cases, even an inch deeper can be fatal!..Be patient with your Gardenia,,,even though it looks real bad with all those yellow leaves,,,they are a very resilient plant and even after shedding most of their leaves, they will endeavor to survive and put out new ones continually, but the problem has to be addressed if you are to get those beautiful white , fragrant flowers...good luck!..Nick

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Nick McCann

Expertise

broad spectrum knowledge in the field of tropical plants;

Experience

I am a certified Master Gardner in Florida (8years)

Organizations
Master Gardner Association of Charlotte County Florida

Education/Credentials
Master Gardner training....accredited each year with required seminars and educational training.

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