The Q&A Archives: Gardenia Blooms/buds

Question: My shrub gardenia purchased in May has many many buds but in all this time I have had only 3 actually blooms. It is on my deck East exposure I feed it every 2 weeks with Jacks Classic acid fertilizer plant food. Most buds fall off without opening. Do I need to plant in larger container than it came in? It's about 4ft tall and 3ft wide. Many branches tied to post. Purchased at Overland Park Tree Nursery. Any help would be greatly appreciated. I will bring it inside this week as the temp is getting into 50's at night. thanks Pat Sasenick

Answer: You've pinpointed the most difficult part of growing gardenias: getting those buds to open. Flower buds are set when night temperatures are 60-70F and open when temperatures are 70-80F. The plants require high humidity and lots of water. Gardenias are finicky, and any change of location or humidity or sun can set them back. Spider mites can also cause bud distortion, and mites also thrive in dry conditions. Look on the undersides of the leaves for tiny black specks and whitish webbing. If you find the mites, use insecticidal soap or a neem-based insecticide to control them. Routine misting with water also helps raise the humidity and control mites. I also recommend sinking a few small containers of water into the soil around the plant. As the water evaporates, it will humidify the air immediately around the plant. You may have better luck getting those flower buds to open when you take your plant indoors for the winter months. Inside, you can have better control over light, temperature and humidity. Best wishes with your gardenia!

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