The Q&A Archives: Gardenia Wilting & Drying

Question: How to care for new and blooming gardenia plants indoors?

Answer: Gardenias are notoriously difficult houseplants, partly because they react very poorly to the adjustment from greenhouse to home envirnoment and partly because their cultural requirements are tough to meet. Many people decide the effort is too much given the poor odds adn simply treat it as they would a cutflower bouquet. However, should you want to try, here are some tips.

Give it plenty of light but screen from direct summer sunlight. Keep it at night temperatures of 65 degrees F and soil temperatures at a minimum of 65 degrees. Water moderately using tepid soft water (not from a water softener system, however). Do not allow soil to dry out completely, yet provide good drainage (that's the hard part). Maintain high humidity and spray or mist foliage frequently. It needs an acid potting mix rich in humus (such as peat moss). It needs controlled temperatures with warm days, cool nights and a humid atmosphere. Hard water, lack of iron or too alkaline soil will produce yellow leaves. The loss of buds or black leaf tips you will probably see are usually due to changes in temperature or watering. Temperatures below 60 will produce malformed buds, above 65 will cause shedding. Prune back after flowering to maintain the plant's shape and conserve its energy for next year's bloom cycle. Keep an eye out for fungal problems and spider mites among other pests.

Good luck with your plant!

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