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Bonsai Gardenia

Question:

I received a bonsai gardenia for mother’s day from my son.  He sent to me from Pro Plant.  It is healthy looking, however it had many leaves that became brown spotted, eventually turned brown and fell for the first few days.  Now it still appears healthy and has multiple buds.  These buds are turning brown close to plant and then fall off. I water it every other day with spray at kitchen sink to give leaves moisture. What am I doing wrong? The best light I can give is a north window because of where I live.

Answer:

This kind of Question: is always the toughest for me to Answer:. Your son has given you a lovely and thoughtful gift plant without realizing that Gardenias are among the most difficult of all flowering plants to keep in bloom. I fault the retailer for not explaining that to your son.

Gardenias are extremely temperature, water and light sensitive, especially when they are in bud. In general, they require temperatures in the low to mid 60’s, which is cooler than most homes. The soil must be kept moderately damp. Gardenias do best in bright indirect sunlight, such as you would get right on a north windowsill.

If temperatures get too warm or the soil gets too dry or stays too wet or if it does not get enough light, then the partially formed buds will “blast,” meaning they fall off. A change in environment and spraying the buds can also cause bud blast. Because it is very difficult to maintain these conditions in most homes, this is a plant that can break your heart as you watch helplessly while the buds fall off.

How often it will need water depends on the pot size, soil quality, temperature and light. You will have to monitor the soil moisture and water only when the top surface of the soil feels very dry.

Finally, fertilizer or any other shortcuts will not help. It is all about the temperature, light and water.