Gardenia (of the family Rubiaceae) has its origin in the tropical areas of Africa and Asia. This shrub can grow to a height of 3 to 4 feet with green leaves and pleasant smelling flowers. Gardenias are usually white in color, but some species produce pale yellow and cream colored flowers. As gardenias are adapted to the warm and humid tropics, they need special care to grow in varying weather conditions. They cannot withstand extreme cold and hence can be placed outdoors in all seasons except winters. Gardenias should be shifted indoors when the temperatures outside fall below 45°F.
Indoor Care for Gardenias
Plant your gardenias in pots so that they can be easily shifted indoors during winters. They require sufficient sunlight, acidic soil, and a cool climate for healthy growth. Humidity plays a vital role in the growth of healthy gardenias. Plant your gardenias in pebble-filled pots that retain moisture. In order to avoid fungi growth, the leaves of the plant should be kept dry. Also, the plant may rot if watered in excess.
Keep other indoor plants at a distance from gardenia pots to prevent transfer of any infestation. When placing your gardenias, make sure you choose a spot that receives adequate sunlight.
Use of Fertilizers in the Winter Season
Avoid excessive fertilizing in winter as it may kill the plants. It is advisable to use a water-soluble fertilizer along with a peat-based soil. Because gardenias thrive in a mildly acidic environment, they should be watered with distilled water kept at room temperature. This ensures that the alkalinity of regular water does not damage the delicate gardenia plant.
Gardenias are usually planted in a pebble-filled pot to provide humidity and prevent water-logging. However, if pebbles are not used, the water that collects at the bottom of the pot should be drained regularly. Humidity trays can be kept below the pots to balance the moisture content within the plant. Humidifiers can also be used for maintaining optimal humidity in the ambient environment.
Spraying water on the plant is not very effective in maintaining humidity; it also serves as a medium for fungi growth. The beautiful white blooms of gardenia may turn brown due to spraying.
Pruning of Gardenias in Winter
Gardenias do not usually require aggressive pruning in winter. Pruning during the winter season involves removal of only old, dead, and diseased parts such as leaves and stems.
Winter Problems with Gardenias
The winter season can bring about unexpected problems with gardenias. Dry winter spells could prevent the plant from blooming or cause the buds to fall off. It is necessary to provide sufficient humidity to the plant during winters. The plant could wilt in extreme cold or even when it is mildly wet. The leaves of gardenias can turn completely yellow if there is insufficient light inside the house during winters.