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Q:

What type of fertilizer do gardenias like?

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-- C.B., Kent M.B.: The sweet-smelling gardenia craves an acid plant food. It sounds as if your gardenia has a magnesium deficiency, which is very common in gardenias and easy to fix. You can dissolve one tablespoon of epsom salts into one gallon of water and soak the root ball in it, or get a high-acid plant food such as Mir-Acid, which is made for rhodies, azaleas and camellias. Remember to keep misting the humidity-loving gardenia or grow it in a bright and steamy bathroom or near the kitchen sink. There also is a "hardy gardenia" sold by local nurseries that survives our winters outdoors. It also is temperamental and needs lots of water and acidic plant food. Q.: I have an orange- blooming perennial called a geum. It has spread into a huge clump in my rockery and I want to divide it up. Is this a good time of year to do this? -- T., e-mail M.B.: Orange is a hot color for blooming plants right now and nobody does bright orange better than geums. Early spring is the perfect time to ... more
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