The Q&A Archives: Problem With Gardenia

Questioner's Location: Naugatuck, Co
Date: September 10, 2008

Question: I have a problem with my gardenia. I never had a successful one until this one. I have had it for 2 1/2 years now which is amazing and I seem to have found the perfect balance of sun and water up until recently. Anyways to give you a little backround on this one due to where I live I keep it indoors from around Sept until May depending on the temperature outside. We had a rainy summer which I think caused my gardenia leaves about a month ago to start turning yellow and falling off . I brought it indoors to dry out and put it in my dining room which has very low sunlight. Now the balance of the healthy leaves are starting to either just turn brown or dry out (shriveled & crunchy leaves)and then turn brown. I checked your Q&A section and then realized from that that I didn't put this plant back to the only decent sunny window in my house. I thought maybe that might have been the problem but 2 weeks later the leaves are still drying up and eventually falling off. Any help would be much appreciated as there is not much left to the plant. Also if I do manage to save this plant can I cut it back to the point of the bottom of the plant to try to get it going again. Thank you.

Answer: Since you have quite a lot of experience with your gardenia, taking it indoors and out depending upon season, I'm sure you're familiar with its behavior when it is first moved. Typically, when taken from outside in, where the light is less intense, the foliage can turn yellow and fall off. It can also act that way when temperatures and humidity are different than it had been recently experiencing. I understand why you wanted to take it indoors to get it out of the wet weather, but perhaps a better solution would have been to simply move it under an eave or patio covering rather than take it indoors. But, now that it is indoors I suspect you'll keep it inside for the winter months. If so, I would repot the plant in fresh potting soil, removing any damaged (or soggy roots). Then cut the plant back by about one-third, both to remove the unattractive foliage and to encourage new growth. Set it in a bright spot - where you normally keep it during the winter months.

I hope it recovers soon!

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