What killed my gardenia?
This spring I bought two gardenia bushes, potted them, and set them on my front porch (they sit on either side of my front door). I purposely didn't drill drainage holes in my pots because the front porch gets intense morning and early afternoon sun; I wanted to make sure that when I watered them, they retained as much of the water as possible. One bush is gorgeously full and healthy, and I have gotten many flowers to bloom. The other one, however, got infected with mealy bug; the problem never really got out of control, as I sprayed insecticidal soap and hand-picked several bugs off the plant, and pruned a few branches that had died back. It seemed fine, but then a few days later began to drop and wilt, like it was heat-stressed and needed water. I watered it and moved it into some shade, but it was no use - the bush just wilted and died; it never turned brown - it remains green-looking. The other bush, which never got the mealy bugs, is still thriving (there are about 5 flowers in bloom on it as of today). Could the mealy bugs have infected my gardenia with some kind-of virus or disease? And if so, should I throw out the pot as well as the soil and dead bush, instead of scalding it out and re-using it to pot-up a new bush I got as a replacement?
Certified GKH Gardening Expert
They will, indeed suck the life out of your plants. I would toss this soil out instead of reusing it. There are ways to control them that are very easy. This article will help prevent the same fate of the other shrub: https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/ornamental/flowers/gardenia/gardenia-pests.htm