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Gardenia has yellow leaves and black spots!!

Gardening Reference » Gardening in 2004
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by Nell on April 14, 2004 12:56 PM
I am trying to bring a friends gardenia back to life. It was really scrawny, the pot was full of dead and decaying leaves, there was some type of white stuff growing on the top of everything in there and the leaves were dying before they actually formed. She thought she had a dwarf gardenia because the leaves were always so tiny. I cleaned out all of the dead stuff, scrapped out about an inch off the top of the dirt and replaced it with mircle-grow soil. I pruned back the dead and dying limbs and started to feed it mircle-grow for acid loving plants. The old leaves are now turning yellow and they have black spots on them, and some of the new leaves are still turning black before they even come out into actual leaves with the limb they are growing on eventually turning black. Please, someone tell me what is going on with poor plant? I would like to get it healthy again, so I can take some clippings off it to propagate it for myself and a few coworkers...this is with the permission of the owner of the plant. She told me if I could make her gardenia healthy again, I could propagate it. So...HELP!! I don't want to lose this plant. I love gardenias and it hurts to see this one struggling and I don't know what's wrong with it. I have it sitting on a window ledge, right above an electrical heating unit at work. I make sure it does not get direct light, but closing the blinds slightly. hasn't been very sunny were we live lately either...very cloudy and rainy. Could it be that the poor plant is root bound? It has been in the same pot for 2 years. She had it growing in her garden in the south before she moved to WV, at which time she dug it up and put it into a pot and turned it into a houseplant. It has had indifferent care since that time and she was feeding it regular plant food. Is there any help for the poor plant? Please let me know.

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by Will Creed on April 17, 2004 10:29 PM
Hi Nell,

You have taken on a big challenge. Gardenias rarely do well indoors except in the controlled environment of a greenhouse.

Your cleaning up the soil and pruning it back was a good start. However, this Gardenia was grown outside where the sun is much more intense. The light indoors is inadequate and that is the primary reason it is losing leaves. Try to find a bright sunny window, otherwise you are fighting a losing battle.

Because this plant was dug out of the ground and put into a pot, it is probably potted in garden soil, which tends to be too heavy (not porous enough) for indoor potted plants. Thus, you have to very careful not to water too frequently.

Don't even think about repotting or fertilizing an ailing plant. Both of those should be reserved for healthy plants that are growing vigorously.

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