Home > Great Big Greenhouse Blog > March 2015 > FRAGRANT INDOOR GARDENIA


Oh that lovely scent...there’s no mistaking the smell of waxy white gardenia blossoms.  Just driving home from the greenhouse with a flowering gardenia in a closed car is a dangerously heady trip.  These flowering shrubs, native to exotic places such as China, Japan, Malaysia, and Tahiti, are not easy houseplants, but if you love that fragrance…

 There are more than 200 species of gardenia, the most commonly sold as a houseplant being Gardenia jasminoides.  Cultivars of this species include the spring flowering ‘Aime Yashioka’, popular as a patio “tree” with dark green leaves and 4-5 inch flowers, and ‘Veitchii’, commonly found as a 4” or 6” flowering pot plant blooming profusely from spring to fall.  For bonsai use there is G. jasminoides ‘Radicans’, a low spreading shrub with small but fragrant flowers.

Growing a gardenia inside requires very bright light, preferably direct early morning and/or late afternoon sun, and higher humidity.  Increase humidity by using a small humidifier near the plant or by setting the pot on a pebble tray.  An additional problem is temperature…gardenias like a cool night (55⁰F to 60⁰F) and day temperatures about 10 degrees warmer.  The low night temperatures are necessary for bud set.

If you’re still interested in trying one (that scent!), you also need to keep the soil pH low (5.0-6.5) by using a fertilizer formulated for acid-loving plants.  A potting mixture containing peat moss will also help to maintain a proper pH.

Plant pests to watch for are mealy bug and spider mites.  Mealy bug are the most difficult to treat because they tend to hide in leaf axils and in developing buds.  Consistent treatment is the trick to ridding your plant of this insect.
Be especially attentive to the plant’s needs when first introducing it to your home.  The transition from greenhouse to the warmer-drier-dimmer interior environment is hard on a gardenia.  The plant may drop flower buds and leaves as it struggles to adapt to these changes.  Careful attention to watering needs is critical during this transition.  A struggling plant can be rejuvenated by a summer outside in light shade or dappled sun. 

I do speak with customers now and then who have successfully grown gardenias in their homes for years.  I cannot make that claim, myself—I enjoy a gardenia outside in a container over the summer and then pitch it.  But then, I am a lazy gardener! 
Posted: 3/12/2015 by Margot | with 0 comment(s)
Filed under: MargotGunn, TheGreatIndoors
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