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Gardenia leaves turning yellow. Iron deficiency or lack of water?

4 years ago

I have a summer snow Gardenia planted this spring in the ground. The soil is heavy clay with PH 5.1. It gets full sun. It bloomed in June and the size is about 3ft now. Everything looks good. However, the leaves turned a little yellow since planting, not as dark green as before (when I bought it from the nursery). The nursery kept it under shaded area covered by large trees. So I think it's normal for its leaf color turned a little bit yellow/lighter. The color did not change much until the past two weeks. The leaves are turning into bright yellow starting from the bottom and they fell off after turning into yellow completely. The new leaves are still green. But yellowing process is speeding up. That worries me.

I also have another gardenia Frostproof 2 ft away from it, much smaller, about 1ft tall. Exactly same light, soil, water conditions, and the Frostproof gardenia is doing very well. So I am not sure what could be the problem.

I searched online and found various reasons. Two possibilities:

1. Iron deficiency

I don’t think this is the case because the other gardenia is doing fine. But who knows. I can’t tell if it’s iron deficiency based on the images online. Could someone help me determine if this is or is NOT iron deficiency?

2. Lack of water

Because the soil is heavy clay, I never watered it, just rely on rain fall. I planted it as a mound above the ground instead of in the ground to avoid wet feet. That at least solved the root rotting problem. In the past 2 weeks, the temperature was 85F+, sometimes 90F+. Maybe it suffered drought? I checked the soil and it still feels moist. Could someone help me determine if this is because of the lack of water?

Here are some photos:

1. The entire plant - the leaves are turning yellow from the bottom. Old leaves are turning. Young leaves are fine.

2. Close up of a branch.

3. New leaves. The bud turned black and dried out. This happened to a few branches, not a lot.

4. An old leave is starting turning yellow.

5. An old leave turned into yellow completely. It will fall off in the next few days.


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