House Plants/gardinia

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Question
I have always loved the plant its my favorite flower my in law sent me one for Christmas and its beautiful lush and green and i would like to keep it that way but have no clue how do i care for this indoor plant

Answer
Hi Valerie,

Gardenias are a lovely gift with lush, white flowers with a magnificent scent. However, they are also very challenging to keep in bloom and even more challenging to re-bloom. Gardenias are not easy to bloom indoors because they have rather strict temperature requirements. They may best be used as a seasonal plant and discarded after they have finished flowering, which is what many folks do.

I assume yours is already in bloom. If you have only buds, those buds will fall off before opening if the soil is allowed to get a bit too dry, if you repot or if temperatures are not kept in the 55-65 degree range. Provide bright, but indirect sun. Keep the soil moist by watering as soon as the surface soil starts to feel dry. Do not fertilize it.


Flowers are initially white and become a pale yellow as they mature. Individual flowers last 4 to 7 days and turn brown on the edges if handled too much.

Enjoy the flowers while they last because after that you will have some difficult choices to make. You can attempt to re-bloom your Gardenia by following the instructions below. Or you can simply decide to keep it as a green foliage plant. Or you may decide to discard the plant.

Gardenias are extremely difficult to get to re-bloom successfully. When the flowers are finished, you can move your Gardenia to a sunny window and no longer worry about maintaining cool temperatures. 6-8 hours per day of direct sunlight, high humidity, and acidic soil (5.0 pH) are also important for maintaining Gardenias long term. The soil must be kept evenly moist at all times, but not wet. Water whenever the surface of the soil feels just barely damp. Avoid repotting until it is utterly potbound. Use an acid fertilizer, such as Miracid, at half-strength during the growing season, usually from March to October.

In late winter or early spring, prune back the stems by about one-third to maintain its compact, full shape.

In the fall, allow Gardenia temperatures to fall to about 50 to 60 degrees F. at night and no more than 70 degrees during the day. You must maintain these cool temperatures through the fall and winter if you want buds to set. Once buds form it is important to maintain temperatures in the 55 to 65 degree F. range or they will fall off. Of course, good light and careful monitoring of the soil to keep it moderately moist is also critical during this time. There are few things more disheartening than to see fat Gardenia buds fall off because the temperature got a bit too warm or the soil a bit too dry.

It is difficult for most people to provide these conditions. That is why many folks are satisfied to keep a Gardenia as a foliage plant. I wish you the best of luck with your new plant.

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

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Regards,
Will Creed, Interior Landscaper
Horticultural Help, NYC

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Will Creed

Expertise

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.

Experience

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.

Education/Credentials
BA, Amherst College

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