Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Gardenias Don’t Live Here Anymore

Once upon a time I couldn’t pass up gardenias. Every year I’d bring one home from the greenhouse, only to end up tossing it out a few weeks later. My gardenias did not make the slightest effort to tolerate my indoor environment; everything had to be perfect for them. I gave them all I had. The only thing they gave me is a floor full of dead leaves. To say that these plants are temperamental would be a severe understatement.

I decided at one point that I have enough to deal with in my life and that I’m much too busy for these arrogant plants. I don’t need this grief. I don’t deserve to be treated this way. So I gave them up. The gardenias and I finally went our separate ways and it’s been years since I’ve grown one. I’m still on the wagon.

Gardenias and I don’t get along because I can’t give them everything they need. But if you’re interested in growing these lovely plants, here’s some care info about them:

Provide bright light but avoid direct midday sun in the summer. Humidity is absolutely essential; keep it high. Use a porous, well-draining, slightly acidic soil; keep it evenly moist but never soggy. Feed your gardenia about once a month with an acidic fertilizer between April and November. Ideal temperature range is between 15°C (60°F) to 18°C (65°F) during the night and about 10 degrees higher during the day. If possible, move your gardenia outdoors in the summer in an east or west position in partial shade.

If your plant is not blooming, or if it’s dropping flower buds prematurely, some of the most common reasons include: low humidity, insufficient light, cold drafts, changing the plant’s location (especially while in bud), temperature fluctuations, over or under watering, pest infestations and high temperatures. Gardenias fare poorly in very warm rooms; keep them cool.

If you can provide gardenias with the care they need, they will flourish in your home. If you can’t, consider getting something a little easier to please. Like an Aglaonema.

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