Gardenia stress

Asked August 25, 2014, 7:45 PM EDT

I had to move my August Beauty Gardenias from the orig. location due to water runoff issues from the roof and low nutrient soil. They seemed to be recovering aside from still showing bright yellow leaves, and now after a period of temps in the high 90s, they are dying, leaves limp, no longer glossy green, as well as yellow and brown.

I am awaiting the soil sample results from the extention, but in the meantime, what can I do to arrest the downward spiral?

Charleston County South Carolina

7 Responses

Looks like transplant shock to me. When did you transplant these?

About one month ago. The soil results just returned show excessive calcium and phosphorus and low manganese and zinc. They have good drainage and morning sun only. Can you offer a suggestion?

It would have been better to have transplanted the gardenia in the late fall months. Plants grow more slowly in the late fall and winter and can concentrate their energy toward root development. When roots are reduced during the active growing period it stresses the plant. The gardenias are trying to produce leaves and roots at the same time.

My best guess at this point is watching them and making sure they don't dry out too much. They are more dependent on you for moisture because their root system is not as extensive as it once was.

Thank you. I actually had no choice in the timing. They were sitting in 6" of water as the landscaper did not raise them when he planted them and the area shed massive water from the roofline. They probably would have developed root rot and died, but I understand it wasn't ideal by a long shot and will do as you suggest.

Wow, that is a lot of water. I guess I should have also asked how long they had been in that first location before moving? And also, how long (approximately) were their roots submerged like that? Thanks :)

They were installed December, 2013 by a landscaper. Hard to say how long the roots were soaking in water because it was a combination of poor grading and plant installation, so after every rain (and we had a significantly wet spring), the water collected without runoff or absorption. The Gardenias went from green to yellow leaves. My research showed that they disliked wet feet and once I dug up the first I realized they needed to be moved if they were to have a chance at sustaining life. It certainly was not ideal for either me in the Charleston heat, or the plants.

Now we've just finished with unseasonably hot (mid-90s) temps which probably further stressed them. Add to this the soil composition and possible lack of adequate nutrient. They have had a difficult time of it thus far

Sounds like you are doing the best you can to revive them- that is excellent! However, IF they do have a root rot could be bad- basically, you wouldn't want to replant a gardenia in that same location later- here is a little more info on Gardenia Diseases- root rot listed.

If you are unable to make a solid decision that it is in fact a root rot problem- then you may want to have it tested - by sending a sample to the Plant Problem Clinic- through your local Extension Office in Charleston.