A Gardenia plant has beautiful, scented, waxy, white flowers and glossy, green leaves, but are very temperamental plants and won’t put up with neglect. A gardenia plant requires very specific growing conditions such as light, humidity, and temperature. Native to Japan and China, these plants are usually seen as outdoor evergreen bushes on the southern and western coasts of the United States. The key to successfully growing a Gardenia plant indoors is to try to mimic the outdoor environment as closely as possible. Although it is quite a challenge and an accomplishment to grow a gardenia plant indoors, it is a flowering plant like none other. The jasmine fragrance of the flowers has inspired hundreds of perfumes. Before sending a gardenia plant as a gift, be sure the person you’re sending it to has the time to care for it and the proper environment, otherwise they will just be frustrated as the plant gradually dies.
A gardenia plant requires very bright light for at least 6-8 hours a day. Be prepared to move your gardenia to different locations as the seasons change. Grow lights may be necessary if there is not enough natural light to help your gardenia plant thrive.
Gardenia plants need to be watered very carefully. Allow the top 2-3 inches of the soil to dry out before watering. Over-watering causes root rot, brown spots on leaves, and buds not to open. Under-watering a gardenia plant results in green leaves falling off.
Fertilize every two weeks when a gardenia plant is actively growing in the spring and summer. Gardenia plants like a plant food that is made for acid loving plants. Always dilute the fertilizer to 1/2 the recommended strength. Feed monthly in the fall and winter.
The correct temperature is extremely important. Ideal temperatures for gardenia plants are between 65°-70°F (18.3°-21.2°C) during the day and 55°-65°F (12.8°-18.3°C) at night. Cool night temperatures are essential for the buds to set. Gardenia buds drop off if temperatures go above 70°F (21.1°C).
High humidity is another gardenia plant requirement. Increase household humidity, especially during dry winter months, by placing a humidifier near the plant, putting a gardenia 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 for a gardenia plant and causes fungal growth on the leaves.
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°F (12.8°C).
Gardenia plants attract mealy bugs, spider mites, white flies, thrips, and aphids. If using a commercial insecticide or the Green Solution (recipe in Glossary), avoid spraying the buds or flowers.
The high humidity a garden plant needs encourages fungal and bacterial diseases. Prevent these diseases from ruining your plant by providing good air circulation, keeping the leaves dry, and temperatures cool.
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 plants happy, by watering once a month with left-over tea or very dilute vinegar.
Pruning properly is very important if you want a gardenia plant to bloom. Since buds and flowers appear only on the new growth, old woody stems need to be removed to encourage the new young stems to develop.
Gardenia plants are propagated from stem cuttings. When you trim the plant in the spring and summer, save some of the 5″-6″ clippings to start new plants. You can read more about propagating a plant using stem cuttings in the Glossary of the website.
Gardenias make a lovely gift for any occassion.
Poisonous Plant Info
A gardenia is a non-poisonous houseplant.
Bud drop is a common problem with Gardenia Houseplants. There are several reasons why your Gardenia Plant is losing buds and leaves: lack of humidity, over or under watering, lack of light, and cold drafts. Start by increasing the light. If this doesn’t help stop the buds and leaves from falling off your gardenia plant, work your way through the other possible causes.
You should never touch the flowers on a Gardenia plant because it will cause brown blemishes. Look and smell, but do not touch the flowers! Gardenia plants like very bright light, but intense direct sun, magnified by the glass in a window, may burn the flowers.
The new leaves on your gardenia plant are smaller because the plant is not getting enough light or enough plant food.
There are several things you need to do in order to get a gardenia plant to flower. Prune old woody stems to encourage new growth. Put a gardenia plant in very bright light for most of the day. Temperatures need to be around 70°F (21.1°C) during the day and around 60°-65°F (15.6°-18.3°C) at night to set the buds.
Gardenia plants get usually get yellow leaves when they are not properly fertilized. Feed a gardenia plant with a plant food specifically made for acid loving plants. You can also pour some tea or very dilute vinegar into the soil once a month to increase the acidity in the soil. Be careful not to over-water, soil that stays wet all of the time also causes yellow leaves.