Help for a brown thumb
January 14, 2015 6:41 AM   Subscribe

What can I do to save a large indoor gardenia plant with browning, dry leaves?

The gardenia in question is a mini-tree, about 6 ft tall, in a large pot. It is out of doors during the warm months (Mid-Atlantic USA). It is about 10 years old and used to bloom well, but has not bloomed at all for the last couple of years.
This fall I moved it indoors when the weather turned cold. The house is about 70 degrees F. The gardenia is near a west facing window and gets indirect light.
I water it twice a week. Without excavating the pot to see, the root ball looks compacted and the water drains away quickly.
The leaves are now turning a bronze-colored brown and look dry.
Another gardenia, about half the size, was also brought indoors and died very quickly. The two were not situated near each other.

Is the gardenia getting enough light?
Am I watering it too little/too much?
Is something wrong with the roots?
Is the house too warm/ too dry?
Is it time for a plant funeral or should I just wait out the winter, however bad it looks?
posted by bad grammar to Home & Garden (4 answers total)
We have a plant (in MA) that's remarkably similar in all aspects to the one you described. We've brought it in for the winter, and around December the leaves started drying & falling off. After much research, my wife determined that this is normal dormancy, not necessarily death. We are watering it lightly over the winter (it's easy to over-water), and will set it back out in the spring, with the expectation that it will never bloom quite as abundantly as it did the first year.

All that said... I remain skeptical. I will be pleasantly surprised if this leafless thing comes alive again in the spring.
posted by jeffjon at 8:12 AM on January 14, 2015

Your gardenia probably needs much higher humidity. And maybe a tiny bit of fertilizer.
posted by zennie at 9:37 AM on January 14, 2015

Dormancy is normal but the tree sounds unhealthy. When did you last re-pot/ prune/ fertilize it? If the answer is never hie thee to YouTube or a gardenia forum to learn how and when best to care for your tree. Typically this involves reporting during the dormant period, fertilizing during the growing period and a specific period to prune for maximum flowerage that varies by species. It should bloom again next spring.

I repost trees at least every 3 years and prune more often. You can use the same size pot but the roots need to be trimmed and they need new soil.
posted by fshgrl at 11:37 AM on January 14, 2015

Response by poster: I also hope it is merely going dormant, but I will try repotting.
posted by bad grammar at 12:58 PM on January 14, 2015

« Older Real estate lawyers: worth it for "normal"...   |   Stuck in the middle of a car accident dispute Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.