How To Prune A Gardenia Houseplant

It’s common knowledge that gardenias (Gardenia jasminoides) are challenging, but perhaps it’s only due to their prima donna beauty and princess-like grace. In USDA plant hardiness zones 8 through 12, the waxy white flowers overflow patio planters with their delicious vanilla-jasmine scent. Gardenias in pots produce waves of flowers in the spring and summer when grown in acidic soil with light shade. They are also great houseplants. Gardenias don’t require much pruning, but a yearly cut keeps their evergreen foliage looking gorgeous.

After the last buds of the potted gardenia have blossomed, shape the bush. Outdoor plants should be trimmed as soon as possible to ensure that new growth is at least 4 to 6 inches long by early October. The flowers of the following year are reduced by late pruning.

For form, prune the plant. When pruning bushes in outdoor pots, aim for the shrub to be three-quarters that height the following year. To encourage dense foliage, trim back limbs to just above a lateral branch. To make a bush that flows well, remove stray branches.

Indoor plants tend to stay smaller and more compact, so only prune them when absolutely required. Trim awkward branches to improve the plant’s form. Cut back on lanky stems to encourage new growth.

Should I trim my gardenia plant indoors?

Your gardenia plant needs bright, indirect light whether it is grown inside or outside. This refers to inside the house, not necessarily on the windowsill itself, but close to a sunny window. The plant should be positioned within the room, but not directly beneath the sun’s scorching rays, in a southern-facing room. The majority of indoor plant lights give off the ideal quantity of light, but you may need to experiment with the gardenia’s proximity to the light source and move it closer or further away as necessary.

A southern window could supply your gardenia with all the light it requires in the spring, summer, and early fall. Many gardenia aficionados use artificial plant lights to augment the natural light in their homes throughout the winter to keep their gardenias healthy. Even southern-facing natural light is insufficient for the gardenia due to the sun’s lower angle and shorter days, so adding an additional light source aids in creating the bright surroundings the plant needs to thrive.


Keeping the humidity level high enough, especially during the winter, is the most challenging aspect of gardenia interior maintenance. People who use hot air heating in their homes are aware of the terrible drying impact it has on people’s skin and hair. It’s worse with plants. You can purchase a hygrometer or a thermometer/hygrometer combo to keep near your indoor plants to gauge the relative humidity and make adjustments as necessary. While thermometers measure temperature, hygrometers measure humidity. The relative humidity should be between 50 and 60 percent for gardenias. You have a number of choices for raising the humidity level around your plants. To start, you can buy a cheap spray bottle and sprinkle plants every day. You can alternatively put the plant on a dish or saucer loaded with pebbles or gravel if that sounds like too much labor. Every day, fill the pebble tray with water. The humidity level close to the plant will rise when the water evaporation occurs. Depending on your demands, a humidifier for your home can raise the humidity to acceptable levels throughout the entire house or in each individual room.


Although gardenias dislike being soggy, they need a steady supply of moisture to keep their blooms and stay healthy. Put your finger into the dirt to determine whether your gardenia needs water. Water it if it feels dry. You’re watering the soil too much if it’s so drenched that it feels spongy.


Your gardenia needs rich, well-drained soil, speaking of which. For the healthiest plants, choose potting soil that is organic. For best results, the soil needs to be slightly acidic. Check it out using a soil testing kit. The ideal pH range for gardenia soil is between 5 and 6. There are a few things you may do to increase the acidity of the soil. Pickle juice is a popular gardening practice, according to some gardeners. Vinegar can harm plants and is frequently used as a natural herbicide to get rid of weeds, so make sure it is diluted in water before using. Use it to water your gardenias once a month by diluting it with one cup vinegar or pickle juice to one gallon of water. For your acid-loving houseplants, you can also use a chemical called Miracid to maintain the proper acidity in the soil.

If you recently bought your gardenia, bear in mind that it is probably already planted in the proper soil. Repotting a new gardenia is not a smart option because it will likely experience shock and lose all of its buds. There is really no need to repot the plant unless you notice roots emerging from the top of the plant because gardenias thrive when they are slightly root-bound. You can just put it into a slightly larger, ornamental pot if you don’t like the pot it is currently in.


Gardenias grown indoors require the same or a similar type of fertilizer as those grown outside. Use fertilizer designed specifically for gardenias. Any fertilizer that is applied to soil with an acidic pH is effective for plants. Use fertilizer as directed on the label.


Remove or deadhead spent flowers. If necessary, don’t be afraid to prune your gardenia. Pruning promotes blossoming and healthy new growth. The majority of gardenia cultivars require pruning to be done as soon as the plant has finished blooming. It won’t blossom the next year if you wait too long to prune.

When do gardenias need to be pruned?

The enormous gardenia shrub I have needs to be trimmed. When should the height and width be minimized?

The answer is that major pruning for gardenia plants normally happens after the May spring bloom. Although pruning of the bushes is always possible, pruning too early or late in the year will eliminate blossoms or flower buds. In order to keep the plants within reasonable limits, pruning is typically minor, although more drastic clipping can be done if necessary.

A: My podocarpus hedge, which I planted a few months ago, is currently between three and four feet tall, depending on the species. Do I cut it back after it reaches the ideal height of five feet?

A dense and robust hedge is produced by trimming the plants as they reach the desired height. The shortest plant in your situation would be roughly three feet tall, so start by cutting back all podocarpus to that height. After the plants have grown six to eight inches, prune them back two inches. After each growth spurt, keep trimming the podocarpus until it reaches a height of five feet. To keep the hedge at the proper width, you should also periodically trim the sides in a similar way.

A: We recently received an orchid in a non-draining pot as a gift. Should the plant be repotted?

A: While your orchid is blooming, enjoy it, but water it sparingly. The orchid should not be allowed to sit in water, therefore tip the pot that it is in to one side as needed to let extra water drain out. Remove the orchid, which is often in a little pot within the drainage-free container, once it has finished flowering. After that, move it into a new container with new growing medium. Find it a place in the filtered light, keep it moist, and during the warmer months, fertilize every other week. The majority of orchids given as gifts bloom again after a year.

A: Although our amaryllis are beginning to blossom, the bed is already overflowing with bulbs. When are they able to be divided and planted again?

A: Although digging and dividing can be done at any time of the year, most gardeners would prefer to avoid upsetting their plants while they are in full bloom. You can dig up the bulbs and replant them after flowering is finished. When the tips are clipped back and planted again, they will grow into strong plants. Early fall would be the ideal time to divide the bulbs because development stops and the amaryllis is getting ready for its April bloom. According to certain statistics, relaxing and digging in the late fall can improve flowering.

A: As with any bulb-like plant, caladiums eventually become overcrowded in containers and require division. Typically, they can last one or two years before the organic soils start to disintegrate and the quantity of bulbs skyrockets. If your caladiums have been in their current container for a while, now might be a good time to divide the bulbs and replant in new soil before new growth starts. There are most certainly enough bulbs to replace a few containers or a garden area.

Q: Edible olive trees are sold at garden centers, but I’ve never noticed them on tree listings. Are they suitable as landscape trees?

A: Due to their ability to reach 25 feet tall and wide and their lovely, silvery-green leaves, relatively new olive trees are just beginning to gain popularity as landscape plants. Olive trees make lovely tiny, single or multiple trunk landscape trees because they can withstand heat and drought. Their little fruits, which may leave messes on driveways and walkways, could be one issue. There may be several unproductive variants, although the edible olive kinds are the most prevalent.

A: My Formosa azaleas have become rather tall. I was instructed to make them shorter and fuller by cutting them down drastically, one stem at a time, rather than using hedge shears. Do I even need to prune them?

A: The Southern Indian azalea variation known as Formosa grows tall and wide. Many of the cultivars in this group, especially those that grow well in less acidic soils, seem to be well adapted to regional conditions. All require pruning eventually.

Azaleas should not be pruned with hedge shears. Azaleas grow with twiggy tops because they are frequently cut back to the same height each year when they are utilized. The spring bloom is typically diminished by this kind of pruning. However, gardeners continue to do it, and the plants continue to grow.

Hand pruning needs to be done after five years or more. By cutting up to one-third of the older stems to the ground, you can widen the plants. Then reduce the height of the plants by several feet. In the future, omit the hedge shears and cut the shoots as necessary with hand pruners.

How should a gardenia be pruned?

  • Gardenias should be pruned after their summer bloom.
  • Use cutting-edge garden shears.
  • Both green and brown timber should be pruned.
  • Never take a gardenia shrub and chop more than one-third of it.
  • To maintain the plant’s original shape and size, prune at least every other year.
  • Record the dimensions and the date the plant was pruned.

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How should gardenias in pots be cared for indoors?

Gardenia needs conditions with temperatures over 60 °F and no chilly drafts. Additionally, this plant demands a high humidity level of around 60%. During a cold, dry winter, indoor plants may need the use of a humidifier or continuous misting to maintain the right humidity.

How do I force my houseplant gardenia to bloom?

Gardenias require a lot of humidity indoors, especially if you want them to form buds and bloom. 50% is their favored percentage!

You’ll need to offer a tray with wet pebbles or moist sand placed below each pot in addition to misting them with plain water.

You might wish to use a humidifier in addition to the heating system if the air in your home during the winter is very dry.

While you can use any model you have on hand to run and it will deliver the necessary moisture, you may want to use one that has a timer and a feature that lets you set the ideal humidity to 50% in order to maximize your accuracy.

The Madetec Smart Cool Mist Ultrasonic Humidifier is a cost-effective alternative that automatically turns off when the desired level of humidity is reached or the water supply is depleted.

Additionally, it has a remote control, an LED display, and the option to run for either 20 or 40 hours on high mist.

Are gardenias intended to have deadheads?

Gardenias should be deadheaded regularly. The plant won’t set seed if the wasted blooms are removed. A gardenia will focus its energy into creating flowers if you deadhead it after the blooms have faded, allowing you to enjoy more of the lovely blooms. Old blossoms should be removed so that the bush looks better overall.

Throughout the blooming season, it is beneficial to deadhead a gardenia once a week by pinching off spent flowers or cutting them off just above a leaf set. Gardenias can be pruned after the last of the year’s blooms have faded if you wish to give them a better shape or get rid of damaged stems.

Why are my gardenia’s leaves turning yellow?

Plant chlorosis simply denotes a lack of chlorophyll in the plant. Poor drainage, root issues, an excessively high pH, a deficiency in soil nutrients, or a combination of these factors may be to blame.

Too much water causing a gardenia bush with yellow leaves

Checking your soil for excess moisture should be your first step if you have a gardenia bush with yellow foliage. The soil should be moist but not extremely wet for the gardenia. To give it a richer environment, add more compost, and make sure the drainage is in place.

Wrong pH causing gardenia bush with yellow leaves

The pH balance of the soil needs to be checked when you are certain that water is not the problem. Gardenias are sensitive to soil pH since they need a range of 5.0 to 6.5. Plants that are affected by the pH of the soil will not be able to absorb minerals like iron, nitrogen, magnesium, or zinc. One of the main causes of chlorosis in plants is a mineral deficit. The most frequent nutritional deficits in gardenias are magnesium (Mg) and iron (Fe), both of which cause similar leaf yellowing. Correct identification is a prerequisite for treatment for each:

Magnesium shortage

The base of the branches will have yellow leaves, but the tops will still be green. At the base of the leaf, there may be a dark green triangle that resembles the shape of the plant’s leaf. Epsom salts or a magnesium salt supplement will be beneficial. However, bear in mind that overuse may cause leaching into the soil.

deficit in iron

The base of branches and leaf veins frequently become yellow, however this rarely happens on the tips. This happens more frequently when the weather becomes colder because slower plant sap makes it more challenging to absorb the nutrient. Because chelated iron lasts longer and absorbs gradually, spring is typically thought of as the best season for treatment. As liquid versions might not include sulfur, which is required to lower pH, powder form is advised (iron decreases as pH increases).

pH equilibrium in soil can be challenging for plants. You can lessen the amount of yellow leaves on your gardenia by supplying the nutrients that are lacking. One approach is to just add the proper amount of the deficient nutrients to the soil surrounding the plant (starting at about 5 feet or 1.5 meters away from the plant). Some people apply a water solution of the deficient nutrients to the leaves, but this is only a short-term treatment at best because it causes the present foliage to turn green once more. For the long-term health of plants, it is preferable to modify the pH of the soil. Another method to help get rid of yellow leaves is to directly add nutrients to the soil, about 3 feet (.9 m) or further away from the plant where the roots spread out.

Yellow leaves on a gardenia bush are a common issue that can be challenging to resolve. Don’t be too hard on yourself if your gardenia dies despite your best efforts. Despite their greatest efforts, gardeners with years of experience and even mastery can still lose gardenia shrubs. Gardenias are lovely but delicate flowers.