Asked on Sep 27, 2014

Help! My gardenia is dying

Amber Thach
by Amber Thach
I just bought this small tree probably a month ago and recently brought it inside since we've had a few chilly nights. Since we are in zone 5 and it gets a bit cold I was told to plant it in a bigger container and put it where it gets sun, I've done all that. What else can I do to save this beautiful smelling tree?
  25 answers
  • Barb Rosen Barb Rosen on Sep 27, 2014
    Keeping gardenias indoors is a little tricky - they want lots of bright light, humidity and cool temperatures. They will often drop leaves when brought inside, so don't despair! Here's more info to help you out!
  • Carol Ann Ferris Patulak Carol Ann Ferris Patulak on Sep 30, 2014
    I have luck with lots of plants, African violets, orchid,never gardenias! Good luck,
  • Cecelia Cecelia on Sep 30, 2014
    The longer you can keep her outside the better, she looks like she is in shock from the quick change in temperature. If able, take her outside and fertilize with a water soluble fertilizer. Maybe miracle grow for acid loving plants. Just a half dose after she is well watered. Let the yellow leaves fall off on their own. Since she will have to come In for the winter, slowly mover her closer to the house each day until u get her inside. Don't put her under an air vent or near a heat source when inside. Close to a window where u had her should be good.
  • Douglas Hunt Douglas Hunt on Sep 30, 2014
    Take it back outside during the day (preferably to a semi-shady spot) as long as the temperatures allow to help it make the transition to indoors. I'm not sure why someone told you to re-pot it just before bringing it inside, as that only added to its stress.
    • Amber Thach Amber Thach on Sep 30, 2014
      Good morning Douglas, I think it's because I bought it not too long ago and up here on Iowa we've had some extreme nights, believe it or not. The pot it came with was a tiny one they put it in at the store. This pot I spray painted and it came off a big tree I bought earlier. At the end of this week it is going to be in the 60's during the day, so you know what the night will get down to. I will see if I can wheel her back out for a few.
  • Stephanie H Stephanie H on Sep 30, 2014
    I leave my gardenia outside all year round, it was about the size of yours when I first purchased it, now 10 years later it's a nice small potted tree. When they say bright light, that is not sunlight. Mine did poorly until I was told by a professional gardener to keep it in the shade most of the day. It's done great since then. Looks like your little tree went into shock, maybe from bringing it inside or from being re-potted. It will come back. But if you want it to bloom again, it needs the weather changes to go dormant and rest.
  • Barbara C Barbara C on Sep 30, 2014
    Looks like you need a bigger pot and remember to water. It will dry out in the sunny window.Gardenias can take freezing temps when in the ground.
    • See 2 previous
    • Douglas Hunt Douglas Hunt on Oct 01, 2014
      @Amber Thach Some gardenias are hardy to about 0, but none I know of will go below that, and I certainly wouldn't expect a young plant to survive through those temperatures.
  • Maria L Maria L on Sep 30, 2014
    I put coffee grounds in a watering can and let steep for a day then water mine with that everytime. It's also important to keep it away from any air vents inside. They can dry out very quickly.
  • Shari B Shari B on Sep 30, 2014
    Do not let it stand in water. Do not over water. Leaves dying at the bottom mean too much moisture. Bright sun light is a must and regular feedings. When you first bring them in they lose a lot of leaves till they get use to their new spot
  • Amber Thach Amber Thach on Sep 30, 2014
    I do have to inform you all that this morning when I checked on her,this girl had one beautiful smelling bloom and two others half way open!
  • Ruthann Ruthann on Sep 30, 2014
    My plant has been around since the 80's. I dug it up and brought it with me when I moved in 2000. It does get yellow leaves every so often but in June blooms great. Its planted in direct Louisiana hot sun, and does get iced in winter. Even flattens out if heavy ice. It survives. I think it likes it.
  • Nancy Jenkins Nancy Jenkins on Sep 30, 2014
    Seems lots of indoor plants and bushes passing. I think my Bougenvillea and Mandevillea have both gone. Was told watch the watering they don't like wet feet and drafts I found, so maybe that is what is wrong with your bush. Have you given a Jobes for flowering or related?
  • Pat Pat on Sep 30, 2014
    Another helpful hint. When I bring my houseplants in for the winter (I live in Nebraska) I treat them with a systemic insect killer made especially for house plants. I get it at Earl May. It is granular and you sprinkle it on top of the soil and stir it in, watering it sparingly. I had white fly on my plants that I brought in last month and am just now (three weeks later) seeing the plants are starting to thrive. The clerk at Earl May said the white fly and other insects can be in the potting soil....even new soil that you buy. Good luck with your plant and it is encouraging to see the three blooms. I am having trouble with my Christmas Cactus from an infestation of white fly....Wish me luck!
  • Esther Carr Esther Carr on Sep 30, 2014
    I'm no expert on gardenias, but I bought one large plant which isn't doing well for my son. I bought the necessary liquid fertilizers Home Depot recommends. It is doing well now and he also has 2 gardenia climbers out in full sun in Florida which are producing lots of flowers. Good luck.
  • April E April E on Sep 30, 2014
    the pot it is in should be ok however they are a high acid plant and you should feed it after every third watering with mir acid, and it should never be allowed to go bone dry. is it near a heater vent? if so direct the air away from the plant. and yes to all the others talking about thier gardenia being outside they do grow well outdoors in the south, this woman is not in the south. also since you just recently brought it in the house it is quite normal for plants to drop a lot of leaves even up to 90% of them in adjusting to the different lighting. so do not worry so much soon within a month you should see new leaves sprouting. and do not forget to turn you plant 1/4 turn each week to get even lighting. also in iowa you can have it in more light during the summer than folks in the south
  • KMS KMS on Sep 30, 2014
    Gardenias are a tropical plant. They will not survive outside in a zone 5 climate. When you pot up you shouldn't go more than one pot size up. They don't have enough root system to use up the water with the increased amount of soil if it is bigger than that. Once they are in the pot and the root s fill out to the edges then it can be potted up again. Heater vents should not be close, water only when the top 1-2" of soil is dry. Place not closer than afoot from a sunny window. Because it is a tropical, misting the airaround it in the winter keeps them much happier. Don't feed too often in the winter months as they do not get enough light to be able to process it.
    • April E April E on Oct 01, 2014
      @KMS actually misting a gardenia will cause it to get black spot they will grow and survive to zone 7b so not a true tropical. and very few tropicals need misting that is a gardening myth most homes have enough humidity to keep them happy
  • Supriya Fadnisdeshpande Supriya Fadnisdeshpande on Oct 01, 2014
    you need a bigger pot and sunlight. it may be the case that you don't have sufficient of it.
    • Amber Thach Amber Thach on Oct 01, 2014
      Hi Supriya, I'll post pic of the pot tomorrow. It's quite deep. That window faces east so it gets the full morning sunrise and half of the day in sun.
  • Linda T Linda T on Oct 01, 2014 This article was interesting, but no-one, including this one has mentioned the 'type' of water to use. Many years ago, I was told NOT to use regular tap water, so I used distilled water with Miracid in it.
  • Amber Thach Amber Thach on Oct 01, 2014
    The pot
  • Ann O'Hearn Ann O'Hearn on Oct 01, 2014
    Gardenias are temperamental shrubs and will not like the transfer from outside to inside, until they get comfortable. Leaves turning yellow and dropping off is common, but usually occurs in early spring before the new growth. Your leaves are not brown and dry at the edges and they have no black spot, so I would chalk this up to transplant shock. A couple tips: Anytime you transplant, keep the plant away from a sunny, hot window. Glass magnifies the sun and can burn new growth; stress out old growth. Here in Charleston, Gardenia's thrive best in partial shade and they are prone to black spot if not in an area with air circulation. Gardenia roots are small ~ use good drainage soil and don't transplant in too big a pot. Feed the shrub Mir acid fertilizer in small doses (1/2 what is listed) every 2-3 months. If your potting soil contains fertilizer, I wouldn't fertilize at all until you bring it outside again. Gardenia's generally like to be fertilized AFTER they bloom; and I never fertilize again until the temperature is consistently warm and I see signs of new growth before bloom buds. Good luck; don't be dismayed if you don't see new growth right away ~ the plant will put out new leaves after it's acclimated.
    • Amber Thach Amber Thach on Oct 02, 2014
      Hi Ann, the tree bloomed three new ones and getting ready for more. I appreciate your tips! Great info. Ty.
  • Sandy Perera Sandy Perera on Oct 03, 2014
    if the leaves
  • Sandy Perera Sandy Perera on Oct 03, 2014
    if the leaves are turning yellow, put some Epsom salt diluted in water. I am not sure the exact quantity to use. I use one cup of Epsom salt to a 9 ltr bucket of water. and protect from frost. hope this work for you. :)
  • Doris Doris on Oct 03, 2014
    You do not want to go no bigger than 2 inches in pot size and keep it away from the heat or cooling vents.It does like a lot of light.It needs to not be feed fertilizer after Nov.I worked in a greenhouse for 20 years.plants that are potted in to big of a pot will grow roots and no top growth.
  • Stephanie Malinowski Stephanie Malinowski on Oct 04, 2014
    Water it,then let it dry on the surface, leaf shed is common
  • Nancy Jenkins Nancy Jenkins on Oct 04, 2014
    My friend was moving and her gardenia was dying, she took to church and place near other live plants the church owns in reception and it looks really live now. Must be the temperature the church has.