By Susan Patterson, Master Gardener
If you have been successful growing gardenia shrubs outdoors, you may wonder if you can grow gardenia plants inside. The answer is yes; however, there are a few things to learn before you run out and purchase a plant.
While there are many indoor plants that require little attention, gardenias houseplants are not of this type. One of the most frustrating things about these lovely and fragrant plants is how finicky they are. If you plan on giving a gardenia plant to someone for a gift, be sure that they know how to care for it, or they will be terribly disappointed.
Growing gardenias indoors, within the confines of your home, requires close attention to humidity, light and pest control. If placed in the correct environment and given proper care, an indoor gardenia will reward you with glossy green leaves and aromatic flowers.
How to Grow a Gardenia Indoors
Gardenias are native to Japan and China and thrive on the south and west coasts of the United States where they often reach up to 6-feet tall. Indoor gardenias require cool temperatures, moderate humidity and plenty of bright light to thrive.
When you first bring your gardenia home, it is essential to have the best spot picked out because they do not respond well to being moved around. This spot should have plenty of light, at least half a day of direct sun, and be in a room with a temperature that is about 55 degrees F. during the day and 64 degrees F. at night.
Care of Indoor Gardenia
Once you have found a good place for your gardenia indoors, your next challenge is moderating the humidity. This is especially challenging during the winter when the indoor heat kicks in. The drying nature of most heat can cause a once beautiful gardenia to fall to pieces, literally. There are a few ways to increase indoor humidity. The first is to group houseplants close together, the second is to spray a light mist of water on foliage during the early morning hours, and the third is to run a humidifier.
Keep your plant free of drafts and never place a gardenia where it will receive the direct force of hot air from a furnace.
Provide water when the soil is dry to touch and add fertilizer or acid-loving plants during the growing season.
Remove woody stems to encourage prolific bloom.
Pests on Gardenia Houseplants
Keep a close eye out for gardenia pests such as aphids, mealy bugs, whiteflies, root nematodes and scale bugs.
Aphids are most common and can be treated with a solution of one-part liquid soap and one-part water. Spray both the top and the bottom of leaves. This same soap solution will often treat mealybugs and scale as well.
If you suspect your gardenia has spider mites, you can confirm this by shaking the leaves over a white sheet of paper. Fold the paper in half and check for red smeared spots. Treat spider mites with neem oil (Note: This will also work on the previously mentioned pests).
Whiteflies are found on the underside of leaves. It is important to remove infected leaves and treat the entire plant with neem oil.
Yellowing leaves may indicate root nematodes; unfortunately, there is no cure for this.