I bought a 5 ft gardenia tree on clearance at a garden center. At the time it looked healthy and happy. Since I brought it home nearly two months ago it has developed bugs - spider mites possibly?? There are webs all over it and you can see little white bugs actually moving... I have cut off the affected areas once and also took it outside for a shower. The bugs seemed to be gone for a while, but they're back and leaves are now yellowing and dropping. Please let me know if anyone has any solutions! Thanks!
Can you post a picture? If you can get a shot of the bugs that would be great, but a pic of the leaves that are showing symptoms would be helpful as well. Spider mites aren't white and are very hard to see so it's definitely not them (I suppose you could have them in addition to the white bugs, but the white bugs are something else). Possibly whitefly since you can see them moving. The webs could mean you have spider mites too, or they could be from regular spiders which are beneficial because they eat other bugs.
Here is a picture of the bugs - as good a picture as I could get. The bugs are very very small, but you can definitely see them moving along the webbing and there's lots and lots of them!! Thank you for your help!
Sorry, still can't tell what they are but they don't really look like whitefly from what I can tell. They also don't look like spider mites, they're too big plus spider mites live on the underside of the leaves not the top, although with the webbing it could be you've got them too in addition to whatever the things on the top of the leaves are. If you can't get a better picture and nobody else knows what they are, I would try washing the plant off really well and then try spraying it thoroughly with something like insecticidal soap or an insecticide with neem as the active--you may have to repeat this a couple of times to get rid of everything (and to be safe I'd make sure you get the tops and bottoms of the leaves both when you're cleaning the plant off and when you're spraying).
Looks like a mite infestation of some kind to me: http://images.google.com/images?ndsp=18&um=1&hl=en&q=images of webbing and spider mites&start=0&sa=N My Gardenia bushes are planted in the ground and I have not had a mite problem with that particular plant but I have had mites attack house plants in the past and they look just like what your photo shows. Mites usually occur when a plant is too dry or the air is too dry, not enough humidity. Gardenias love high humidity. You can raise the humidity around your plant by sitting it on a tray of moist pebbles or misting it frequently.
To eradicate the mites, you can try diluting liquid dish detergent with water and spraying throughly. I use a product called Garden Safe Insecticidal soap that I buy in the garden center at Home Depot, Wal Mart, Lowes etc. I hope you will be able to save your plant. Be aware, if it is near any other plants you should treat them also ... mites travel and if one plant has them there's a good chance they will be on others nearby as well.