Gardenias Look Terrible And Buds Are Turning Black

Question:

Last year I planted several Gardenias in containers. They were beautiful at first planted but now all the leaves have fallen off and the flower buds form, turn black and drop off. They’re watered weekly and fed frequently. Am I overwatering them?

Answer:

  • Gardenias can be frustrating to grow especially when the flower buds never open and drop off.
  • Your plants have two unrelated problems. First, you have a watering problem, but it’s not overwatering. Instead, the plants are going dry and suffering from water stress.
    • Water stress causes the leaves to turn brown and drop off. You might also find that the stems become dry and brittle. Gardenias are watered weekly when planted in the ground, but this is not the case in pots.
    • Container plants are watered at least three times a week, April through October depending on how much afternoon sun they get and the temperature. Also with established plants, the longer they stay in the same container, the more critical the watering frequency becomes, as the soil is depleted by the mass of roots. It’s tough too over water Gardenias or any other plant as the excess water flows out the bottom of the container. During periods of warm temperatures and windy conditions, the plants go dry, the leaves burn and drop off.
    • This is corrected by watering more often: however, don’t expect to see a big difference until next spring.  When the rainy season begins you water less often.  
  • Now on to the second issue.  Gardenias are a tropical plant that requires warm nights to flower. The buds turn black and drop off when the nighttime temperatures are not consistently over fifty-five degrees. Although listed as a shade plant, I find they grow better in a sunny location. They also benefit from the reflected heat. They need to be shaded during the heat of the day when planted inland.
  • Typically, the right conditions for flowering usually occur during the fall months with our ‘Indian Summer’ weather pattern.

Question:

My sunflowers were beautiful this year, bright yellow flowers on short compact plants. Now that they have finished blooming, I’ve saved the seed to replant next year. Will the seed grow true to its parents or am I in for a surprise? Also, can the seed be stored in the garage or does it require refrigeration?

Answer:

  • Unfortunately, you’re in for a surprise.
  • Sunflowers like many another hybrid edible and non-edible plants started from seed are unpredictable in the next generation. 
  • At this point, nobody has an idea of what the new plants will look like next year. When pollination occurs,  the gene pool gets mixed up. So, the original set of characteristics change, compact plants, short stems, early blooming, etc. You’ll have to sow the seed and see what happens.
  • If you decide to save the seed, then I’d store it in a glass jar and keep it refrigerated until you're ready to sow it next spring. The only way you’ll be able to capture the magic again is to plant new seed. 

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