Gardenia flowers have one of the most intoxicating fragrances, with creamy white petals contrasting with vivid green foliage. They’re easily among the prettiest indoor plants you can grow in your house.
However, that beauty comes at a price—these plants require a lot of care.
One of the most common problems you’ll face while growing gardenia is falling buds and leaves. Why is your gardenia dropping leaves? Let’s find out!
Why Is Your Gardenia Dropping Leaves?
Gardenia is an evergreen shrub, meaning that it doesn’t usually lose its leaves in the fall if planted in semi-tropical areas like USDA zone 7b and above or other subtropical regions in Africa, Oceania, and Australia.
In other words, gardenias only thrive in high humidity, high moisture, and hot weather. If you provide all those conditions and the leaves are still falling, your plant is probably dropping leaves due to inadequate watering, alkaline soil, or low humidity.
1 – The Soil Isn’t Acidic Enough
Soil with an acidic pH of five to six is ideal for gardenia to grow in. If you find that your soil has a pH of seven or above, you should apply an acidic fertilizer like cottonseed meal and fish emulsion.
Usually, you need to fertilize your gardenia twice per year. However, the plant may require fertilization every two to four weeks from March to October, which is the gardenias’ growing season.
Bear in mind that adding too much fertilizer can cause more harm than good; only add the required amount of fertilizer and when the plant needs it.
On another note, tap water is highly alkaline, which can disrupt the pH of the soil. So, mineral water, distilled water, or rainwater are preferred for keeping the soil’s pH intact.
2 – Too Much or Too Little Water
Adequate water and moisture are essential for a healthy gardenia. Underwatering your gardenia can cause the leaves to turn yellow, wilt, and fall.
It’s recommended to water your gardenia with one inch of water per week. You need to keep the soil damp and moist but not soggy.
Soggy soil means you have overwatered your gardenia, which can be as dangerous as underwatering. Overwatered gardenia leaves tend to curl up and turn yellow before falling.
Additionally, soggy soil can signify that the pot isn’t draining excess water. Make sure that the drainage holes are unclogged.
If the pot isn’t draining correctly, you should carefully remove the plant from the pot and fix the clog before transferring your plant back, then let it drain in a sink before putting it back in a sunny place.
3 – Insufficient Sunlight
Gardenias love sunlight! In the morning, keep your gardenia in a bright place where it receives full sun. Then, move it to an area with partial shade in the afternoon to protect the leaves from getting sunburnt.
Keep in mind that your gardenia can’t tolerate direct sunlight for long hours, especially in hot climates and dry regions. So, moving it inside the shade is essential to keep the leaves from falling.
4 – Low Humidity Conditions
A healthy gardenia requires high humidity; if the humidity is too low, the leaves will start to curl and eventually fall.
Placing your plant in a humidity tray of pebbles or using a humidifier can improve its growth noticeably.
However, it’s not recommended to mist your gardenia unless the humidity is too low and the weather is hot.
5 – Pests
Pests are your gardenia’s biggest enemy! They can harm your beautiful plant and may lead to a deficiency in photosynthesis, resulting in falling leaves and exposing your plant to various diseases.
For instance, aphids, scale insects, and whiteflies are the most common pests to infest gardenia plants.
The sooner you detect them, the easier it will be to get rid of them. So, it’s crucial to regularly check your gardenia for pests.
Once you detect any pests on your gardenia, isolate your plant immediately from other plants, and start removing the pests manually if possible. Then, treat your plant with the appropriate pesticide or insecticidal soap.
6 – Root Rot
This probably is the most dangerous cause of them all; root rot can kill your plant if not treated early.
Root rot usually happens due to excess water in the soil, as the pathogens find the moist soil a good environment to grow. That leads to the fast-spreading of the disease throughout your plant.
Your gardenia will be wilting, and its leaves will become yellow and eventually fall. In other words, your plant will be dying as the rot spreads.
Preventing root rot is simple; always make sure that your pot drainage is working correctly, and make sure you never overwater your plant, especially in cold weather when your plant isn’t consuming much water.
Your Gardenia Can Be Healthy and Still Drop Leaves
Gardenias are tricky to grow, even for the experienced. To elaborate, there are many conditions that gardenia requires, and you can’t provide them all the time.
For example, during the winter, your gardenia will drop a lot of leaves when you move it inside. That’s normal, and they’ll grow back in the summer.
Another cause for leaf dropping is acclimation to the new environment, so it’s normal that your new gardenia sheds some leaves in its first month.
Cloudy weather, too, can leave your indoor gardenia hungry for sunlight. The only thing that might help in that case is installing growth lights.
Keeping your gardenia happy and healthy is difficult. They require much care, but in the end, you get a beautiful plant with a unique fragrance.
Your gardenia thrives in good sunlight to light shade, with high humidity. It also needs just the right amount of water to keep the soil damp but not soggy.
Keeping the soil at an acidic pH and using acidic fertilizers twice per year can help keep your plant healthy.
Check your plant regularly for any signs of pests, and apply insecticidal soap if you find any.
Growing up with a mom who filled her home (inside and out) with all sorts of plants, Lisa got her start in gardening at a young age. Living now on her own with a home and yard full of plants (including an indoor greenhouse), she shares all the gardening tips she’s gained over the years.