How to Care for a Gardenia Houseplant

I want to give my wife a gardenia (again) for Valentines Day, she LOVES them. Every time I give her a gardenia it dies. Can you tell me how to care for one and I’ll pass the information on to her.

Hi Todd,

Whie flower on Gardenia Plant

Gardenia Plants have beautifully scented waxy white flowers and glossy green leaves, but are very temperamental plants and require very specific growing conditions and constant attention. It’s is quite a challenge and an accomplishment to grow a Gardenia Plant indoors, but the jasmine scented white flowers makes it all worthwhile.

A Gardenia Plant requires very bright light for at least 6-8 hours a day. Be prepared to move the plant to different locations as the seasons change. Grow lights may be necessary if there is not enough natural light.

Gardenia Plants need to be watered very carefully. Allow the top 2-3 inches of the soil to dry out before watering. Over-watering a Gardenia plant causes root rot, brown spots on leaves, and buds not to open. Under-watering a Gardenia plant results in green leaves falling off.

Fertilize a Gardenia plant every two weeks when it is actively growing in the spring and summer. Gardenia plants like a food that is specially made for acid loving plants. Dilute the fertilizer you use to 1/2 the recommended strength. Feed monthly in the fall and winter.

High humidity is another Gardenia Plant requirement. Increase household humidity, especially during dry winter months, by placing a humidifier nearby, putting a Gardenia Plant on a pebble tray filled with water (be sure the plant sits on the pebbles not in the water), or grouping several plants together. Misting doesn’t help increase the humidity and often causes fungal growth on the leaves.

A Gardenia Plant grows best in a well-drained acidic soil with some peat moss added. You can increase the acidity level in the soil and make your Gardenia Plant happy, by watering once a month with left over tea or very dilute vinegar.

Gardenia Plants will not bloom unless all of their light, water, fertilizer, and soil requirements are met. On top of that, in order for Gardenia buds to set, the nighttime temperatures should be around 55 degrees and the Gardenia Plant should be in total darkness for about 8-10 hours.

Before giving your wife another gardenia, be sure you have the proper environment and she has the time to care for it.