Gardening Help FAQs

Here are answers to some of the most common questions we receive about garden plants. You will find concise information on general gardening techniques as well as plant selection and care. For detailed information on specific plant pests and problems refer to our Common Garden Pests and Problems page.

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Horticulture Questions and Answers

How do I care for my gardenia?

Gardenias make beautiful house plants with their bright waxy leaves and fragrant white flowers. To grow them successfully indoors can be challenging. They require an acid soil of pH 5 and abundant moisture. Use a soil mix high in peat moss and use a fertilizer recommended for acid loving plants.

Nutrition is another important part of gardenia culture. Gardenias are sensitive to high salt levels in the soil which results from using hard water and fertilizing. To prevent salt buildups, do not over fertilize and periodically leach the soil to wash out excess salts. Using an acid fertilizer at half strength every few weeks during the summer should be sufficient.

Plants do best when given sunny days and cool nights especially during the fall and winter when buds are forming. The ideal temperature range for proper bud development is between 60 and 65 degrees F. At lower temperatures, buds may be malformed. If night temperatures rise above 70 degrees F. buds will drop, though leaf growth will be profuse.

Keep plants evenly moist, but not soggy and increase humidity around the plant in the winter by setting it over a tray of pebbles filled with water. Do not let the plant stand in water. Site your plant away from sources of hot, dry air.

Although your gardenia plant can be left inside year round it will benefit by being placed outdoors in the summer in a semi-sunny location. It relishes the cool nights in the fall and will begin to set flower buds. Be careful when you bring it in. Give it the coolest spot in the house which receives good sun light as high temperatures and low humidity will cause flower buds to drop. It is also not uncommon for leaves to yellow and drop due to reduced light and higher temperatures.