Can I keep my potted Gardenias alive inside this Winter?

emh8(6)October 26, 2009

I bought some beautiful gardenia topiary's at Lowes's this spring. I repotted them, adding some more potting mix and osmocote, in heavy stone planters, just a bit bigger than the original plastic pot. They bloomed profusely all summer outside, and the leaves were shiny and dark green. I broke my back carrying them them inside for the winter two weeks ago. Alas, since then most of the leaves are turning yellow, from the interior of the plant. I have them in my sunniest rooms, which are really not very sunny. Am I doomed to lose them? I have been reading the forums, and have figured that I should not overwater. Could they just be stressed from the change in location? Should I pick off the yellowing leaves? Any suggestions or experience to help me?

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blutayle(z9aFL)

It is such a delicate balancing act to grow a gardenia indoors during the winter months. Two things will doom it...lack of light, and lack of moisture, though not necessarily water in the pot. As the days shorten the plant will slow its growth. But it will also not need as much water as it goes semi-dormant. Your leaves are yellowing as shock of bringing it into a much darker environment. You should, if possible, provide supplemental light such as a grow spotlight you can get at a plant nursery. The light intensity will help carry it through winter until it can feel the more intense light of the outdoor world. Even shade outside is much more intensely lit then where you probably have it now. For the moisture part, most people kill the plant in the winter by overwatering. Let the plant go almost completely dry to the point of the leaves looking slightly dull, meaning the stage before wilt, then soak the plant. Forced air heat will also most likely kill the plant so even though u may only water once a week you can tip the plant sideways and run water or mist the leaves but miss the soil. They need the extra humidity in a winter house which is arid to the point of a desert climate and this hot air will also bring spider mites so you might want to get a spray bottle of household plant insecticidal soap that kills spider mites. With a little supplemental light(actually alot), controlled watering so not to rot it, keep the humidity up by misting every other day or so, and watch for mites by spraying some insect soap once a week, the plants should pull through fine, and any leaves that were lost may resprout and fill in once outside again. they are not as tempermental as thought, we just dont realize we kill as many houseplants over the winter too. good luck.

    Bookmark   October 26, 2009 at 10:28PM
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emh8(6)

Thank you, Blutayle, for your thorough and helpful answer!

    Bookmark   October 27, 2009 at 11:00AM
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meyermike_1micha(5)

Wish I could help you..:-(

But I have givin all mine away now, except for a few small potted ones..Those are next..

Please, keep us updated on your progess.

And to add to blutayles great comments, overwatering most of all!

    Bookmark   October 28, 2009 at 11:47AM
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butterfly4u

Emh8,
My advise to you is to enjoy your plants every day that you have it, and when it dies, which it will, accept the fact that IT ISN'T YOUR FAULT.
Next year, buy any other plant to enjoy, mabey even a tropical hibiscus, and bring that in if you want to.
Use gardenias as an annual in your zone.
You will always be happy with it then.
You can always look forward to buying brand new plants every year which is exciting.
Remember, you have to tell yourself "it's not my fault".
Otherwise, you will drive yourself crazy trying to keep that plant alive in the winter.
It's not worth your sanity.
We all know on this forum, because we've all been there and now cold zoners just give them away or throw them out.
Happy Thanksgiving!

    Bookmark   November 11, 2009 at 1:45AM
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birdsnblooms

Butterfly, sorry, but I have to disagree with you. :)
I admit, growing Gardenias indoors, especially in lower zones is not an easy task, but it's not impossible either.

Emh8, follow Blutayles instructions. And if possible, invest in a humidifer and/or indoor fountain.
Both can be purchased at reasonable prices..
As for additional lighting, I use a 6' workshop light. They sell ornate lighting devices, but it depends how much you want to spend. Also, if you only have one plant, you can get by with a small fixture or floor lamp.
Gro Lights are a bit pricy, so if you want to save on $$ yet want something that works, get a 2-bulb fixture, one cool white and one warm white flurescent bulbs.

Daily misting helps a lot. If possible, hauling the Gardenia to a sink/shower, soaking leaves, 'not soil' increases humidity.

Don't overwinter your Gardenia in a hot room..nope..that's an invitation to Spider Mites..A cool room is perfect. Do you have such a room?
Keep away from heating vents..

If your Gardenia has foil, remove ASAP. Some plants are sold to look, 'pretty,' but foil is a sure way to kill most plants, let alone a Gardenia.

Do not fertilize during winter months..Withhold fertilizer until you notice new growth or once days grow longer.

Don't bother repotting in winter. As long as its current container has drainage, and well-draining soil, it should be okay..Water your gardenia well, then wait until soil feels dry/crumbly.

In spring, you can start fertilizing..I use Azalia/Rhodo fertilizer.

There's more to learn, but for the time being, let's see how it does.
And yes, remove yellow leaves..they will not revert to green. While removing them, check to see if they feel sticky.
Any leaves that fall in soil should be lifted and tossed..Good luck, Toni

    Bookmark   November 12, 2009 at 4:55PM
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meyermike_1micha(5)

Toni,

And because of your fine expertise and suggestions, I was able to survive many a gardenia every winter when at once I never thought possible..;-)

Great advice!

Mike..:-)

    Bookmark   November 13, 2009 at 10:42AM
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