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Gardenias as Houseplants

Watch heat & humidity with a Gardenia

By: Sandy Feather 2008
Penn State Extension



Q. About 6 weeks ago I received a healthy looking gardenia as a gift. It was full of buds and had a few blossoms. Now it's begun to drop unopened flower buds. What can I do to help my Gardenia bloom?

A. Gardenias have a reputation for being finicky houseplants, so don't be so hard on yourself. Your gift was probably produced in a greenhouse where it received the right amount of light, was grown at the proper temperature, and maintained on a careful watering and fertilization schedule. Some of the bud drop can probably be attributed just to the move from that greenhouse into your home.


Turning down the Gardenia Heat

Two of the biggest factors influencing gardenia bud drop are heat and lack of humidity in our homes, especially in the winter. They prefer cool temperatures -- 62 or 63 degrees -- to set and maintain flower buds. That is much cooler than most humans find comfortable in winter months. If temperatures get even a little too high, they will drop all of their buds. If you have a room where it stays cooler than the rest of your house while meeting the gardenia's other requirements, that may be best location for it.

 


Humidity

Gardenias also require a high level of humidity or they drop their flower buds before they open. High humidity can be challenging to achieve in our homes during the winter when furnaces are running. Some gardeners report success by moving the plant to a naturally more humid room such as a bathroom or laundry area. You can stand the container in a saucer of pebbles that you keep filled with water to increase humidity. Try not to allow the bottom of the pot to contact the water in the saucer to avoid problems with root rot.


Gardenia Groupings

You may also group plants together. As the plants lose moisture through their leaves (transpiration), it maintains an area of higher humidity around the group. As a last resort, mist the leaves every other day. Too much moisture on the leaves can cause leaf spots, and moisture will spoil the flowers too quickly once they do bloom.


Best Light for Gardenias

Gardenias like bright light with the best windows facing southeast or east (morning light). Intense sunshine from the west (afternoon sun) or southwest may scorch gardenia leaves and cause flowers to fade faster than normal.
  

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