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House Plants/bonsai gardenia


I received a bonsai gardenia for mother's day from my son.  He sent to me from Pro Plant.  It is healthy looking, however it had many leaves that became brown spotted, eventually turned brown and fell for the first few days.  Now it still appears healthy and has multiple buds.  These buds are turning brown close to plant and then fall off. I water it every other day with spray at kitchen sink to give leaves moisture. What am I doing wrong? The best light I can give is a north window because of where I live.

Hi Betty,

This kind of question is always the toughest for me to answer. Your son has given you a lovely and thoughtful gift plant without realizing that Gardenias are among the most difficult of all flowering plants to keep in bloom. I fault the retailer for not explaining that to your son.

Gardenias are extremely temperature, water and light sensitive, especially when they are in bud. In general, they require temperatures in the low to mid 60's, which is cooler than most homes. The soil must be kept moderately damp. Gardenias do best in bright indirect sunlight, such as you would get right on a north windowsill.

If temperatures get too warm or the soil gets too dry or stays too wet or if it does not get enough light, then the partially formed buds will "blast," meaning they fall off. A change in environment and spraying the buds can also cause bud blast. Because it is very difficult to maintain these conditions in most homes, this is a plant that can break your heart as you watch helplessly while the buds fall off.

How often it will need water depends on the pot size, soil quality, temperature and light. You will have to monitor the soil moisture and water only when the top surface of the soil feels very dry.

Finally, fertilizer or any other shortcuts will not help. It is all about the temperature, light and water.

I have written a detailed articles on Gardenia care and a separate article on Bonsai that I will email for free to you (or anyone else) who emails a request to me at I have also written an indoor plant care book in a PDF format that I can sell you if you contact me at my email address.

Please let me know if any of this is unclear or if you have any additional questions.

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Will Creed


I am the only expert in this category with professional hands-on experience and knowledge of all indoor plants. I can answer questions regarding light, water, fertilizer, repotting, pruning and humidity and temperature requirements. I can identify plant pests and provide information on safe, effective treatments. My answers are based on 35 years of professional experience and scientific research and are clear and easy to understand. I do NOT use search engines to find answers to your questions. If you read my previous posts here, you will get a good idea as to how thorough and professional my answers are.


I have over 35 years of professional indoor landscaping experience caring for plants in homes, offices, building lobbies, stores, restaurants, and other adverse environments. I have written extensively on the care of indoor plants, including a 260 page book. My specialties include Ficus trees, low light plants, repotting, pest control, and re-blooming holiday plants. Be sure to check my ratings and nominations to learn why I am the top-rated indoor plant expert. I am the only House Plant expert consistently ranked in the AllExperts Top 20.

BA, Amherst College

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