The Gardenia–A Sensitive Flower
Gardenia plants are known for their sensitive nature, posing a challenge for even the most expert gardeners. Generally found outdoors in the south, gardenias are charming and beautiful plants which need substantial maintenance. But don’t be scared off, if you are up for the challenge, you can have some of the most beautiful flowers gracing your presence day after day.
If you decide to grow your gardenia plant indoors, it’s important to note the location, sunlight, soil, humidity, and every other painstaking detail in order to guarantee their success. If you hate organization and losing your precious time, try another plant. Gardenias are not for the faint of heart. I’ve personally killed off a gardenia plant (or two) in my neverending pursuit of having their glorious fragrance sweep over my home in heavenly scents. It took a long time for me to get to the point of owning a thriving gardenia plant, but if I’m able to care for a gardenia, you can too. It just takes patience and perseverance.
Gardenia Indoor Plant Care
If you’ve decided you are up for the challenge of caring for a gardenia, it’s important to abide by their particular requirements. Your challenge will be to closely match the gardenia’s native environment, as closely as possible. Pay exact detail to their needs, and you’ll become the gardenia expert in your neighborhood. Be proud, and don’t back down!
Soil: Gardenias will need well-draining acidic soil with a pH of 4.5 to 5.5, whether they are placed inside or outside.
Light: These plants need bright light, and direct sunlight for half the day would be best to fit their needs. If you are placing them inside, find a place with bright and indirect sunlight. Winter will be the most challenge for most of you, as the intensity of light is nowhere near what summer brings. Move your plant to a southern exposure, if possible, or supplement the light with grow lights.
Temperature: Temperature is a big issue for a gardenia, and they prefer temps ranging from around 68 degrees to 74 degrees, with a low at night ranging around 60 degrees. Who wouldn’t want to live in those ideal temperatures? Do not let these plants burn in your 90 degree summer days, they will die a long and gloomy death.
Humidity: Keeping a relative humidity throughout the year is one of the biggest challenges for this plant, especially during the winter season and artificial heat. A good way to increase humidity include, adding a humidifier to the room, placing the plant on a tray of wet pebbles, or misting the plant with a spray bottle by hand (but this is not really a good idea). You can also add peat moss to the soil in order to help retain moisture without the soil becoming too soggy. It’s important to note that while the gardenia plant needs humidity, it does not like soggy soil! Don’t let the plant get root rot.
Water: A healthy gardenia will need lots of regular waterings in order to ensure its success. And while you want to water frequently, it’s important not to overwater, as this can be the death of your beloved plant. Gardenias do not like soggy soil and will gladly decide to exit out of their existence if you consistently overwater them. The goal is to provide them a proper balance of water, air, and nutrients. If you water too much and the soil is always soggy, the roots will be deprived of air. If you add too much fertilizer, the roots will accumulate too much salt.
Just make sure to monitor the topsoil by placing your fingers into an inch or more of depth in order to gauge the moisture levels. If the soil is wet, do not water. If the soil is dry, go ahead and water.
Fertilizer: It’s important to use a fertilizer that is formulated for acid-loving and blooming plants. You can find a product here. You will want to fertilize them every 3 weeks during growing season.
While gardenias may seem scary, don’t be fooled. Once you get the hang of their particular needs, you will bask in their beauty and fragrance. There is nothing quite like having a thriving gardenia plant, and I’d say it’s worth the risk! Keep trying and you WILL become a gardenia expert.