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A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Saturday - July 11, 2009

From: San Ramon, CA
Region: California
Topic: Non-Natives
Title: Problems with non-native gardenias in San Ramon, CA
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I have a Gardenia tree planted in my front yard that gets shade and sun. It is dropping leaves and the leaves that are left are yellow. I had been watering it every day, but decreased that to every other day. I have another Gardenia tree planted about 10 feet away ( they flank my living room window outdoors ) that is doing just fine, although neither of them have bloomed since I planted them last year. Can you tell me what is wrong with the tree that is having yellowing leaves and de-leaving ? Thank-you

ANSWER:

There is only one gardenia in our Native Plant Database, Gardenia taitensis (Tahitian gardenia) and it is native only to Hawaii. It is more likely that you have Gardenia jasminoides, native to tropical Africa, southern Asia, Australasia and Oceania. At the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, we are committed t the care, propagation and protection of plants native not only to North America but to the area in which they are being grown.

We looked for a website that could give you some help, and found this website from eHow: How to Care for a Gardenia Tree.  From that, we picked up this interesting excerpt:

"Gardenia plants thrive in daily temperatures in the low 70s. Do not plant the gardenia outdoors if your region is consistently hotter or colder."

It looks to us like Contra Costa Co., California, is in USDA Hardiness Zone 9, with minimum average annual temperatures from 25 to 30 deg. F, and probably maximum temperatures somewhat above the low '70s. We don't know if that is, indeed, the situation, but check out all of that website and see if you can find the solution to your problem. 


Gardenia taitensis

 

 

 

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