Thursday, June 4, 2015

Growing the Gorgeously Fragrant Gardenia Indoors

While shopping at my local Garden Center today, I saw that there are now new hybrids of the gardenia that may live through a Washington, DC winter. Good news for backyard gardeners! You do have to live in area with mild winters to keep these glorious beauties as part of your outdoor garden.  You can keep one indoors as a houseplant almost anywhere in the world, if you are able to meet the requirements for its care.

They aren't the easiest of houseplants to keep but it can be done if you are willing to devote yourself to their regular upkeep. If you have a sunny location, can provide some humidity and keep them watered as they like, that will put you in a position to be quite successful with them. Without the specific care required, they tend to be susceptible to insects and disease. 

With their calming deep green glossy foliage, and out-of-this-world fragrance emanating from soft-white flowers, a Gardenia can be a wondrous addition to the ambiance of a home.

These evergreen shrubs are native to Asia and Africa in areas with mild winters. They've been popular as a houseplant for a long time and the newer hybrids tend to be hardier indoors. 

Care Instructions--
  • At least 4 hours of direct sun daily. Full afternoon sun suits them well.
  • Water a gardenia thoroughly when the soil surface is dry.  
  • Plants in a 6" (15 cm) diameter pot need about a pint (almost 1/2 liter) of water
  • In an 8" (20 cm) diameter pot use about a quart (1 liter) of water
  • In a 10" (25 cm) diameter pot, use about 2 quarts (2 liters) of water
  • Humidity can be provided by daily misting. 
  • Or add humidity by setting the plant on a deep-dish saucer filled with pebbles and keeping water in the saucer up to the pebble line so as the water evaporates, it will provide some humidity to the plant.
  • Fertilize regularly. They prefer a more acidic fertilizer such as Miracid by Miracle Gro.
  • Gardenias should be kept cleaned up, removing any yellowing or dead leaves as soon as possible. Occasional dusting and a gentle showering from time to time is very helpful.
  • If possible, setting them outdoors in a semi-shady spot for the summer will give them a good boost.
  • They can be pruned to shape


***To watch short video clips on plant care from my 90's TV series, click below:

  The Indoor Garden TV



  1. I just got a gardenia plant I live in Illinois I'm trying to keep it indoors. When should I repot it and how often should I water it?

  2. The best time to repot it is when the the roots have filled the container it is potted in. You can tell by poking your finger into the soil in several places. If you can barely push it into the soil about a half inch or so below the soil surface, go ahead and repot it. Usually plants appear too large for the pot, which is a good clue.
    It's best to water a gardenia when the top of soil has dried out. I like to feel the soil to make sure but looking at the condition of the top of the soil often works.
    I do not recommend an exact timing for watering plants such as once a week. How many sunny or cloudy days there have been recently, shorter and longer day lengths, and the temperature and humidity levels in a house, which can vary, all contribute to how fast a plant will use water. That said, you can usually figure out about how often your plant will need water, after you've had it a short while. I do emphasize about, and always recommend checking the moisture level of the soil first.
    Hope your gardenia thrives!