Can anyone tell me what is wrong with my gardenias?

Teresa C
by Teresa C
These are August beauty gardenias planted last year. One side of the bush may be fine, the other side appears black & dead... Can anyone tell me what to do to fix this if possible and what to do to avoid this ever happening again.. Thanks for your help.
  12 answers
  • Douglas Hunt Douglas Hunt on Jun 07, 2013
    Sometimes appearances are deceiving, so you should lightly nick the bark (using your fingernail is fine) on the "dead" sign and see if there is any sign of green there. If so, that's good news for your plants. Without knowing where the plants were planted (sun vs. shade) or what care they got after they were planted, it is difficult to know what went wrong, but it looks to me like planting depth may be an issue (they look low from the photos) and your pine straw mulch should not actually be touching the bases of the plants. How soon did you notice them declining?
  • Gardens By Design, LLC Gardens By Design, LLC on Jun 07, 2013
    it looks like drought damage. When a shrub is first planted it needs to be watered as if it were still in the container until the roots have time to spread out and grow into the surrounding soil, which takes at least a year. Give them a good deep soaking at the base of the plant once a week throughout the summer and taper it off when the weather cools.
  • Mikell Paulson Mikell Paulson on Jun 07, 2013
    Looks like there might be a lot of leaves and pine needles! pine needles are not good for all plants. Blow or rake the leaves away from the plant so it and breath and get water. Looks like the leaves are turning yellow, look for spider mites! It also could be planted to deep! Make sure it is in a happy place!
  • Jill Jill on Jun 07, 2013
    It could be several things. Was your area hit by a cold snap during the last winter? Have you set water time long enough or are you watering enough? Have you fertilized? Gardenias should not be buried below what they were in the pot, require a good amount of water, and also need to be fertilized every so often. When I plant them I use a handful of bonemeal as it helps to keep them stable for a while and not go into shock after loosing up the roots and never put it lower in the ground than it was in the pot. Water generously during the first year, but like all things, don't over water. Fertilize a few times a year with Ironite, all you need is a small amount, just a sprinkling of the pellets above ground. They will dissolve during watering and fertilize your plant, but too much can also burn it out, so be careful. Check the branches and slightly bend them to see if they are still pliable. If they are then the plant is still alive, if not clip the dead ones off. Gardenias don't like full sun much and do better in a partial shaded area. Be careful what you use for mulch underneath. Straw has a tendency to make the ground a little to warm as it decomposes, so use bark instead.
  • Katt Katt on Jun 07, 2013
    Teresa, If this is what it looks like at this time of year, it has suffered some. I have an August Beauty gardenia that I planted when I first started gardening approx. 17 years ago. I'm sure I planted in in the wrong location but it has survived. It is at the base of pine trees and in the shade behind a 6' fence. The first few years I did protect it from the wind as the wind can hit it prety hard. I don't know the USDA zone you are in. I'm in 7. Yet for me the heat zone is rather critical. My bush now reaches over the 6' fence just a little. sory but I don't know how to download pic's
  • Kelley Storey Kelley Storey on Jun 08, 2013
    Maybe pruning it would help it snap back! When I prune mine it doubles in size and has nice new leaves and stems! I started mine from a cutting and have had it potted for about 10 years now and we are finally going to put it in the ground :)
  • Virginia Virginia on Jun 08, 2013
    Mikell is totally right. Rake back the leaves (you're covering it up too much). Prune it back, give it some 10/10/10 (not right on the center but around the "drip line"). The drip line is where the edge of the leaves are (you know if it rained... where the water would drip the furthest away from the plant). Like AROUND the plant about say 12" away from the base.
  • Teresa C Teresa C on Jun 14, 2013
    I think they started declining early spring. I have raked the leaves & pine straw away from each shrub & pruned all the dead limbs off. It does appear they may be planted a little too deep.They get about 5-6 hrs of sun daily. They are currently blooming here in zone 7B. They were fertilized late March with a slow release hi nitro fertilizer. I also added ironite in April. I do not see any insects on them. With all of this being said, do I dig & replant when fall gets here again? What is your opinion of adding epsom salt to help prevent yellowing leaves? Thanks for all your help everyone!
  • Douglas Hunt Douglas Hunt on Jun 15, 2013
    If they really are planted too deep, you need to dig them up in the fall and replant them. You should not be using a high nitrogen fertilizer. It encourages leaf growth at the expense of blooms. Epsom salts supplies magnesium to the soil. If your soil doesn't need magnesium, there is no reason to apply it.
  • Jill Jill on Jun 15, 2013
    Ahhh....Sounds like you might have over fertilized them! Doug is right, you will have to wait until fall to dig them up and replant them, making sure that they aren't in too deep.
  • Cindy Morgan Cindy Morgan on Sep 28, 2013
    They are drying up on you. If they were planted just a year ago, the roots haven't had a chance to reach out. My guess is they were originally planted in a peat mix and once dry, that will shed water instead of soak it up. Your original post was from June. It is September now. If it is still struggling, I would gently dig it up, put it in a bucket of one tablespoon of liquid Alaska fish fertilizer to two gallons of water. Push and hold it down with a rock until it absorbs the water. Prune away all dead branches. Disinfect your pruners by wiping them with rubbing alcohol often, as you prune the dead away from the live. In case a disease is present, you don't want to cut into live wood and infect it. Prune all live branches to four buds or so each. When the plant roots are full of water, gently try to loosen and get rid of the old potting soil without bruising the roots. (Fish fertilizer has B1 in it. B1 eases transplant shock and helps develop roots.) At this point, you can choose to plant back into the garden, using a nice loamy, compost rich soil to fill in and around your plant, or put it in a pot with a loamy, compost rich soil until early next spring and then plant it in the garden.
  • Mikell Paulson Mikell Paulson on Sep 29, 2013
    Get it away from the pine needles! :)