A Gardenia Problem... OF COURSE!

DGFlyGirlSeptember 5, 2012

Hello folks! I have to give my strange gardenia credit... she has turned me into quite the inquisitive gardener, and I might never have jumped on a forum if it hadn't been for her....

I received this unmarked gardenia as a staff appreciation gift in May 2011. It was about half the size in the photo. She had three buds, all which promptly fell off the first time I looked at her funny.

To her credit, she's stuck with this amateur all this time. Clearly she knew I hadn't set out to do her harm - I just had no idea gardenias were typically so....impossible.

I unceremoniously plunked her in a new pot early this year (maybe in February? I'm not even sure) with some random Miracle Grow formula. I have no idea what kind.

She sits in a west-facing window in an office that ranges from 78-88 degrees. I water her a little bit every day, but that's it.

I realized something might be amiss this summer when she hadn't budded. I have heard such great things about the smell of gardenias, but hadn't seen a single bud since I got her.

Her leaves are all nice and dark green, with a glossy tint, but some on the inside are a little scraggly (making me think she might want to be a tree. I think if I pruned those out, she would grow look a little more stately). New shoots are constantly growing, but she just refuses to put out.

What gives?

I've heard of fish emulsion and coffee grounds and spritzing the leaves with filtered water and vinegar, and shaking a chicken over it while hopping on one foot under a full moon.

Should I not test my luck and just continue as I'm going? Or should I try to coax her out of her shell?

Thanks everyone!

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The plant needs drainage, humidity, moist but not always wet soil. Feed often, but not full strength. Don't feed after pruning. Big leaves on a Gardenia means not enough light. Lack of light will make leaves but no bloom. Likes cool nights, even down near freezing. Takes pruning well. Grows big, fast (for a houseplant). Watch for scale and spider mites.

    Bookmark   September 5, 2012 at 10:21PM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

Watering every day is probably way too much, although I don't see the yellowing one would expect from too much water, so...?

Sounds like you already know the main "trick": shaking a chicken over it while hopping on one foot under a full moon.

While doing that, you're making chicken noises, right?

There's a Gardenia shrub in the yard here and after 5+ years, I still can't detect any pattern to the blooming. There's a fairly reliable flush of blooms in late winter/early spring, and then it often makes a random flower at any time of year.

You probably don't have any more light to give, but that's what I'd try too, if possible.

    Bookmark   September 6, 2012 at 9:53AM
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Great ideas, thank you!! I brought her home this weekend to start trying new ideas because there is VERY little natural light at my office.

I now have her home in a room with east and south facing windows, so I'm hoping that in the next few days, she'll start to perk up.

I'm also going to pick up a new pot that has drainage out the bottom and see if that helps at all too.

    Bookmark   September 8, 2012 at 3:17PM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

Sounds like a good plan. When you change pots, it would do a lot of good for your plant by removing the old soil, and giving the roots a trim. Have you done that before?

    Bookmark   September 11, 2012 at 7:06AM
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The Ficus Wrangler

I'm from Florida, and I just can't get over the idea of growing gardenias as houseplants. Has anyone, anywhere, ever got them to bloom in the house? There are only a handful of plants that will flower in the house without LOADS of artificial light, and gardenia is not one of them, as far as I know. Maybe if you put it outside during the warm months it will flower for you.

    Bookmark   September 13, 2012 at 10:28PM
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The first thing I would of done with this plant, animal with a mind of its own, was provide a good porous mix of the bat. Not some unknown mix and certainly not MG straight from the bag, unless you plan on growing it in a tight pot which stunts its growth anyway.:-)

After that, once you are aware of what can harm a house grown gardenia, everything is relatively easy. I grow many and flower many indoors all year. Some of them will grow like weeds if I don't control them.

The BIGGEST silent killer to these plants, that will cause the inability to take up nutrients correctly in a poor root system caused by root rot or fine root die off from salt deposits. Gardenia are intolerable to salt and constant wet feet. Both go hand in hand.

If you provide a mix that is open, drains well, and allows you to water frequently, then the accunilated salts that build up over time will consistantly be washed out after each watering. It is these salts that kill the feeder roots.
Also, it will help eleviate possible bug invasion.

The flowers will be dramatic as long as your plant can take up good fertilize, be free of pests and allowed to get a good amount of sunlight.


    Bookmark   September 14, 2012 at 8:50AM
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DGF...besides the great advice given, Gardenias like warm days and cool nights. Cool as in 45-50F.

Too much heat, especially dry heat/air will cause problems, including Spider Mites.

My Gardenias are fertilized with Azalea/Rhododendron fertrilizer.

Gardenias love rain. Is there anyway you can place your 'denia outdoors?

Theficus...I'm in IL. My grafted Gardenia was purchased 1994/5 at a local green house. It's placed outdoors late spring, (depending on temps) until autumn. When temps dip in the high 30's-40's, it's brought indoors..And yes, it flowers. :) The older it gets, the more it blooms.

It will never look as good as 'denias grown in the ground, especially in Fl, but not doing bad for cold, dry winters that seems to laat Forever. Toni

    Bookmark   September 15, 2012 at 11:24AM
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The Ficus Wrangler

How wonderful to know that you poor folks up north can enjoy that wonderful gardenia smell indoors. I think I'll still leave them outside though - if we get a 40degree night, we're running around in overcoats, moaning about the tundra.

    Bookmark   September 17, 2012 at 1:51PM
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TheFicus. at 40F degrees, I'm freezing, and I was born here..lol.

Who wouldn't wear an overcoat? 8 degrees above freezing. Way too cold. I don't like when it's 70...lol. 80 and 90F degrees is perfect.

It's funny how people from the south or west think others residing in the midwest or northern states cannot grow certain plants.
It's more work, using artificial lights, humidifers, etc, but certainly can be done.

However, wish we could move to a warm location, but doubt my dream will ever happen. Toni

    Bookmark   September 17, 2012 at 3:54PM
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Brrrrr! I hate this cold Toni!

The funny thing is this. With these cooler nights, my Gardenia is flowering like crazy! The colder it gets, the more it flowers..lol What gives?

Wish I could move south too! I have a house in the Caribbean and it needs work. If I had not needed my job there, I would move in a heart beat and start all over!

It was 40 degrees this am and still all my tropicals are outside. I forgot to put my space heater on in my small greenhouse and all my 35 orchids got quite the chill I tell you. Maybe a few will flower now since some need a chill requirement to trigger blooms.
They seem to be doing ok.

Yes, we can be very successful at growing anything the tropics has to offer, if we have what it offers to make them happy!

One not about Gardenia.......I would keep it at a managable size so in case you have an outbreak of spider mites, you can easily rid them. Once you put it out in the spring, it will grow thick and like a weed once again for you.

    Bookmark   September 17, 2012 at 7:11PM
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