The Q&A Archives: Flowering Gardenia Plants

Question: Over the years I have tried unsucessfully to get a gardenia plant to bloom. The buds always seem to drop, the leaves turn yellow and the plants finally die.This year I tried again, and for the first time ever was able
to get the plant to bloom. At one point I actually had 7 (rather small) blossoms all at once. However, my plant is
suffering with a few problems:

1) what causes the leaves to turn yellow?
2) is there a way to get the blossoms to grow larger?
3) those darn mealy bugs... how do I get rid of them? The
alcohol on the Q-Tip trick just doesn't work.

Answer: Gardenias are particular about their environment and will pout if their needs are not met. For flower buds to form, a night temperature of 60F - 65F is required, and during the day the temperature should be about 10 degrees higher. An even temperature and careful watering are needed to prevent bud drop. Yellow leaves can be a natural occurance, (old leaves yellow and fall off), or it could indicate inadequate light or insufficient water, or even the use of hard water. Here are some general care tips for gardenias: Give your plant the temperature range it prefers, bright light is essential, but avoid direct midday sun in summer, keep the soil moist at all times but reduce watering in the winter, and use tepid, not cold water. Gardenias prefer soft water and appreciate daily misting. If you follow the above guidelines, your plant should produce attractive leaves and lots of blossoms. Mealybug control is difficult once the population of pests gets large. I'd continue to wipe them off with a dampened cotton swab rather than use an insecticide which might further compromise the health of your gardenia.

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