The Challenges Of Growing Gardenia As A Houseplant

By Raffaele DiLallo | January 9, 2021
by Raffaele DiLallo
January 9, 2021

I’ve grown many houseplants throughout my life, and there are certain ones that I’ve learned how to grow very well.  But there are others that I simply refuse to grow indoors anymore! One of the hardest plants that I’ve tried to grow indoors is the gardenia.

Although the glossy foliage is certainly beautiful, I’m completely entranced by the intoxicating scent of gardenias. Unfortunately, they also are very difficult to grow indoors unless your conditions are perfect. I have no issues growing them outdoors, but they are quite a challenge indoors. 

Gardenias seem to be prone to every pest and plant disorder known to man. One frustrating issue is one that you may see shortly after you bring your plant home from the greenhouse. What is it?  Bud drop. When gardenias are stressed, they will often drop their flower buds before they open. So frustrating!  

Indoor Gardenia Problems

The dry air of most homes are very inhospitable to indoor gardenias. They like higher humidity so you would need to increase humidity to make them happy indoors, especially during the winter. If you don’t, your gardenia will be prone to spider mites.

Gardenias also seem to be prone to chlorosis. This is apparent when the leaf veins are green but the rest of the leaf is yellow, and is caused by an iron deficiency. A chelated iron treatment will often fix this issue. These plants are also difficult to grow because they are picky with soil pH. They are happiest in soil pH levels between 5 and 6.5. If you fail to do so, it will cause nutrient absorption issues and manifest itself in an unhappy plant.  

Gardenias are also very intolerant of dry soil. This is not a plant that you can neglect as they like consistent moisture in order to be happiest. On the other hand, they don’t like soggy roots so you’ll need to strike a balance. Last but not least, you’ll need to make sure that you have enough light for a healthy plant and also for flowering. They need at least a few hours of direct sun indoors, but you’ll want to avoid hot mid-day sun. 

Have I discouraged you from growing gardenias? They are one of my favorite plants, but if you don’t have the right conditions and attention to their needs, they can be one of the most challenging houseplants you will ever grow.

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