If you’re a gardener who likes a challenge, gardenia houseplants are for you! These broadleaf evergreen plants have a reputation for being finicky and high-maintenance. However, when you consider their distinct, intoxicating fragrance, you will surely agree when we say gardenias are worth the effort.
Healthy gardenia houseplants will produce fragrant, white blossoms. Captivating, intoxicating, and exotic are only some words to describe a gardenia flower’s specific scent. Glossy, deep green-colored broadleaves surround these flowers, making them a stunning addition to your indoor garden.
This complete gardenia care and growing guide contains everything you need to know to care for gardenia houseplants. It discusses ideal soil conditions, watering habits, light requirements, fertilizer, and other helpful information. Follow this guide to raise beautiful, healthy, and fragrant gardenias in your home.
Quick Facts About Gardenia Houseplants
Here are some quick facts for gardenia houseplants:
- Common Names: gardenia; cape jasmine; cape jessamine; common gardenia; jasmine
- Scientific Name: Gardenia jasminoides
- Plant Type: flowering; shrub
- Flower Color: white; cream
- Bloom Time: spring; summer
- Leaf Type: broadleaf; evergreen
- Leaf Shape: elliptical; ovate
- Hardiness Zones: USDA Zones 8 to 11
- Average Mature Height: 3 to 8 feet
- Growth Rate: moderate; 1 to 2 feet per year
- Soil Type: well-draining
- Soil pH Level: acidic; 5.0 to 6.5
- Watering Frequency: weekly
- Sunlight Exposure: partial shade; bright, indirect light
- Day Temperature: 65°F (19°C) to 70°F (22°C)
- Night Temperature: 60°F (16°C) to 62°F (17°C)
- Toxicity: non-toxic to humans; toxic to some animals
- Native Areas: Bangladesh; India; Japan; Korea; Myanmar; Southern China; Taiwan; Vietnam
Are Gardenia Houseplants Too High-maintenance?
Growing gardenia houseplants can be quite a task. Many growers call this a finicky houseplant because of its specific needs. Gardenias are also susceptible to many insects, pests, and diseases. After buying a new gardenia plant, they might report bud drop, leaf browning or yellowing, or sudden plant death.
Don’t let the gardenia’s high-maintenance qualities discourage you from raising them, though. A few months of proper care will result in happy, beautiful plants. Not to mention, nothing quite compares to a gardenia flower’s fragrance, making all the thorough care worthwhile.
Having success with growing gardenias indoors requires intense, close attention. So when you buy a gardenia from your local garden center, get the healthiest one you can find. Give your new plant everything it needs as soon as you take it home. And above all else, be consistent with your care.
Caring for Gardenia Houseplants
You can expect your new gardenia houseplant to bloom immediately, given the right growing conditions. Mature gardenia plants are available in conservatories or greenhouses where they provide the proper climate. You can also try your hand at growing a gardenia plant from seeds. However, expect to put in three years of intensive care before your gardenias begin to bloom.
Since the gardenia is finicky, you’ll want to keep a close eye on your plant. Consider keeping your gardenia houseplant in a room you constantly visit, like the kitchen or living room. Take note, if you keep your plant in the kitchen, make sure you keep it away from a gas stove. Natural gas fumes are harmful to plants. You’re safe if you have an electric stove.
By keeping your gardenia where you can always see it, you can quickly tell whether it’s living its best life. You can adjust your caring practices as soon as you see any signs of stress on the plant. Here is a guide for their basic needs.
Gardenia houseplants prefer rich, well-draining soil. Rich soil for gardenias is acidic soil with pH levels between 5.0 and 6.5. Peat soils or compost mixtures work well for your indoor gardenias. You can amend your garden soil with agricultural sulfur to lower its pH level to the ideal range for gardenias. Having a pH soil strip can help you know how acidic your soil is.
Besides soil acidity, your gardenia will grow best with well-draining soil. Well-draining soil allows water to drain naturally without water pooling or puddling in your pot. This soil drains water at a restrained rate, meaning the soil drains just right. Slow drainage soil would be clay soil, while quick drainage soil would be sand.
Fertilizing is also essential for gardenias, especially during the growing season. When your gardenia is growing and blooming, make sure it gets enough nutrition to support its work. Consider fertilizing your gardenia once a month with a 6-4-4 fertilizer.
The numbers on a fertilizer indicate the percentage of elements in order. Sometimes, fertilizers will have a fourth number for a fourth element. Fertilizers have nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, and sometimes sulfur.
Dilute your fertilizer to avoid burning your gardenia plant’s roots. Fertilizing any blooming plant at half-strength may be the safest way to go, especially with a sensitive plant like gardenias. Fertilizer damage may be difficult to recover from, so it’s better to be safe than sorry.
You want to keep your gardenia’s soil evenly moist. Keep your soil evenly moist but not soggy by watering your gardenia houseplant once a week. You can take it to your sink or your shower, depending on your pot size. Water the plant thoroughly and allow excess water to drain naturally.
Remember, the once-a-week watering rule may not apply to all climates. You can tell when your gardenia needs watering when you notice the top inch of soil is dry. Dig your finger into your pot’s soil to check. If your finger comes out clean, it’s time to water your plant.
Be extra careful if you keep you want to keep your gardenia in a decorative pot or saucer. Make sure no excess water will pool at the bottom. Decorative pots without any drainage holes or saucers can leave your gardenia sitting in soggy soil. You want to avoid excess water at all costs. Overwatering will result in root rot, causing the leaves to brown and fall off.
Gardenia houseplants need bright, indirect sunlight. You want to keep your gardenia where it can catch as much sunlight as possible during the daytime. The gardenia prefers long hours of sunlight, so consider a room with large, bright windows.
Avoid placing your gardenia plant directly on a windowsill where it can get direct sunlight. Likewise, try to keep it away from outer walls, especially if they are concrete. Concrete walls can Place your potted gardenia a few feet away from the window. It can still get enough sunlight, but it isn’t risking any sun damage. Since gardenia plants are sensitive, slightly warmer light may scorch their leaves and cause sunburns.
Gardenia houseplants require specific d temperature and humidity levels to bloom properly. Therefore, maintain daytime temperatures between 65- and 70-degrees Fahrenheit (19-22°C). Meanwhile, indoor gardenias’ best nighttime temperature range is between 60- and 62-degrees Fahrenheit (16-17°C).
The gardenia prefers a relative humidity indoors between 50% and 60%. This rate is on the higher side of the humidity spectrum, so you might want to invest in a humidifier. Having a humidifier in the room will keep your gardenia houseplants happy.
If a humidifier is not an option, don’t worry. There are other ways to increase relative humidity around your gardenia plant. Put your gardenia plant in a decorative pot and place it over a pebble tray filled with water. As the water evaporates, the relative humidity around the plant increases. Ensure that the bottom of the pot is not submerged in water, though, as this could lead to soggy soil.
Having more houseplants also increases relative humidity in your home. However, remember that gardenias are susceptible to pest issues. If you keep gardenias with other houseplants for humidifying purposes, you may put the other plants at risk of pests. You want to give your gardenia enough space for good airflow to reduce its chances of getting pests.
Outside of blooming season, you still need to take intensive care of your gardenias. Be sure to prune them when they’ve stopped blooming. Remove any messy, sprawling branches and withered flowers. You don’t want your plant to do any extra work while it’s dormant.
Consider repotting your gardenia houseplants as necessary. You still want to make sure it has good-quality, peat-based potting soil to provide the acidic soil gardenias love. You can tell when your gardenia needs repotting when it appears pot-bound. If you notice your gardenia’s roots are overfilling your flower pot, they have no more room to expand.
When your gardenia is pot-bound, it may appear ill without any clear sign of insect or disease. Take this sign as your plant’s way of saying it’s stressed. When your gardenia gives you any repotting signal, do so immediately before the finicky plant wilts further.
Gardenia Houseplants Propagation
When you’re confident enough to raise more gardenia houseplants, consider propagating yours through stem cuttings or seeds. Stem cuttings are your best option if you want to grow more gardenias quickly.
During early spring, cut off 3 to 4 inches of a stem’s tip right below the leaf node. Taking cuttings from a mature gardenia plant during this time of year provides the best chances for success.
Take your stem cutting and dip it in a rooting hormone. Rooting hormone is the main ingredient for helping cuttings grow into individual plants. You can buy rooting hormones from garden centers.
After dipping your cutting into rooting hormone, you will place it in a pot of perlite and potting mix. Keep this pot as moist as you would regular gardenia plants until it grows good roots. You can repot your gardenia into a bigger pot with well-drained soil as it grows bigger.
If you want to try propagating gardenia houseplants with seeds, you must be patient. As stated earlier, Gardenia propagation through seeds takes up to three years before seeing any flowers.
To do this, collect seeds from dried gardenia seed pods. Then, clean the seed pods and let them dry. Next, plant the dried seeds about an eighth inch deep in a soil mixture of peat moss and perlite. Keep them moist and away from direct sunlight for about six weeks until they sprout.
Transplant your seedlings when they are several inches tall. You can repot them in the ideal, peat-based soil mature gardenias prefer. Then, you can raise your propagated gardenia indoors as usual.
Gardenia Houseplants Pest and Disease Control
Gardenias also require maintenance for pest control. The gardenia is highly prone to insects and pests. Inconsistent temperature and watering levels may boost the chances of getting a pest infestation.
Common insects like mealybugs, scale, aphids, spider mites, and whiteflies feed on gardenias. You can treat an infestation with neem oil, horticultural oil, or insecticidal soap solutions. Be consistent with your treatment so the infestation doesn’t get worse.
Besides insects, the gardenia is prone to several diseases. Among these plant diseases are sooty mold, anthracnose, leaf spot, powdery mildew, and dieback. The list, unfortunately, goes on. Only some of these plant diseases are treatable with fungicide. The worst-case scenario would have you destroying the entire plant altogether.
To avoid diseases or insects feasting on your gardenia, be sure your plant has enough room for air circulation. You can achieve this by keeping it in a room without too many other houseplants.
Gardenia’s susceptibility to insects and diseases is the main reason you should get a healthy plant from the start. When buying a gardenia plant from your local garden center, check for any spider mites under the leaves. If you find pests on a new plant after purchasing it, you will face an uphill battle getting rid of them.
Humans are safe from gardenias. While the plant isn’t toxic to humans, curious children might risk choking on small plant parts. However, gardenias can be toxic to pets. Gardenia flowers contain geniposides and gardenosides. These toxins cause mild to severe digestive problems in cats.
Dogs and horses are also sensitive to the gardenia. They may experience mild to severe vomiting, diarrhea, and hives when they ingest plant parts. Be sure to keep your gardenia houseplants out of animal reach to avoid potential stomach upsets.
Gardenia Houseplants Are Worth the Challenge
Gardenia houseplants are finicky plants. You will need patience and the ability to offer intensive care to have success with them. You might consider success with these plants as seeing flowers in full bloom. And rightfully so, since gardenia flowers offer one of the most distinct, exotic fragrances flowering plants can offer.
Intensive care for gardenias involves specific requirements. These include sunlight exposure, soil chemistry, water requirements, and an ideal indoor climate. Any slight fluctuation in their specific needs may prevent you from witnessing their incomparable flowers.
When raising a gardenia indoors, be sure you keep it in a room where you can see it often. You want to keep a close eye on your plant to ensure it’s living its best life. As soon as you notice any sign of stress on your plant, take immediate action to remedy the issue.
Gardenia houseplants will keep you on your toes, making them perfect for any indoor gardener who’s up for a challenge.
FAQs About Gardenia Houseplants
Gardenia houseplants grow best in acidic soil. Choose high-end peat soil for your indoor gardenias. You can mix agricultural sulfur with regular gardening soil to lower the pH level to 5.0 to 6.5.
Typically, you would water your gardenia houseplant once a week. Gardenia soil needs to remain evenly moist but not soggy. You can tell when your gardenia needs watering when the top inch of its soil is dry.
When the soil is dry, water your gardenia thoroughly and be sure your pot has enough drainage. You don’t want your gardenia to sit too long in soggy soil because the plant may suffer root rot.
For indoor gardenias, the ideal daytime temperatures are between 65 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit (19-22°C). Meanwhile, the best nighttime temperature range is between 60 and 62 degrees Fahrenheit (16-17°C). If you want to see your gardenia plants bloom, you must maintain this specific temperature range during day and night.
Gardenia houseplants prefer long hours under bright, indirect sunlight to grow indoors. Try to avoid placing your gardenia where sunlight hits it directly. Keep it a few feet away from the window to make sure it still gets enough sunlight. During warmer days, direct light may scorch the gardenia leaves.
You can grow gardenias outdoors if you live in USDA plant hardiness zones 8 to 11. Some varieties can grow outdoors even if you live in zones 6 or 7. Otherwise, gardenias need a controlled, indoor environment to thrive and bloom. Visit the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map to find your hardiness zone.