Ultimate Gardenia Houseplant Guide

30 Jan 2022

The gardenia is known as a challenging houseplant to grow as it can be quite finicky. If you’ve got a green thumb and develop an optimal care regime then your plant will thrive.

In this care guide, we explore everything that you’ll need to know about the gardenia. We delve into its key characteristics, required care, and we walk you through growing and reviving your own gardenia too.

Main Characteristics

The gardenia’s scientific name is gardenia jasminoides, however, it is commonly referred to as gardenia or Cape jasmine. It belongs to the Rubiaceae family which is also known as the madder family.

It is native to tropical areas in China, Japan, and Taiwan. The evergreen houseplant is highly regarded as it blooms striking, fragranced flowers and vibrant foliage.

You will need to pay close attention to your houseplant as it is high maintenance and fussy when it comes to its environment.

Fun fact: The gardenia is named after the famous botanist; Dr. Alexander Garden.

Types of Gardenias

There are many different types of gardenia as it is widely cultivated. We’ll briefly describe the 10 most stunning and striking variations grown.

  • Gardenia jasminoides ‘buttons’: It grows glossy, elongated, and dark green leaves with semi-double flowers. These bold white blooms have a round yellow center resembling a button.
  • Gardenia jasminoides ‘August beauty’: This variation sprouts double flowers that are about 3 inches (7.6cm) in size.
  • Gardenia jasminoides ‘Aimee’: This houseplant blossoms one of the largest double 5-inch (12.7cm) flowers. Each flower has a rosette structure that’s similar to a rose.
  • Gardenia jasminoides ‘crown jewel’: The plant can grow up to 2 to 3 feet (61 – 91cm) tall and it blooms 3-inch (7.6cm) double flowers.
  • Gardenia jasminoides ‘frostproof’: It is one of the more frost-tolerant plants that produces upright growth and double flowers.
  • Gardenia jasminoides ‘jubilation’: This hardy houseplant produces compact growth and tends to bloom delicate flowers in late spring.
  • Gardenia jasminoides ‘radicans’: This type of plant is a climber and can grow around 6 to 12 inches (15.2 – 30.5cm) tall. It also produces strongly scented, double flowers.
  • Gardenia jasminoides ‘veitchii’: This variation is one of the oldest gardenias and it sprouts dense growth and double flowers.
  • Gardenia taitensis: The Tahitian gardenia is the national flower of Tahiti. The flowers are star-shaped with yellow centers.
  • Gardenia jasminoides ‘pinwheel’: This houseplant resembles a hardy shrub and blooms pinwheel-shaped flowers.

What Does It Look Like?

This houseplant has thick, leathery leaves that are either dark green, light green, or a bright yellowy-green in color. A few types of gardenia also have variegated foliage too.

It blooms stunning white flowers that are eye-catching and add a touch of elegance to any room that it’s placed in.

What Does It Symbolize?

The gardenia flower symbolizes purity, gentleness, clarity, and joy. Additionally, it signifies a secret love between two people and the romantic moments they share together.

It is a popular flower found in wedding bouquets as it symbolizes love and its bold, white flowers are perfect for the day.

How Big Do They Get?

Typically, the gardenia grows between 5 to 6 feet (1.5 – 1.8m) tall and 3 to 8 feet (0.9 – 2.4m) wide.

How Fast Do They Grow?

It is regarded as a moderately fast-growing houseplant. When cared for well, you can expect it to produce 1 to 2 feet (30.5 – 61cm) of new growth a year.


It is well known for its long lifespan and can survive for several decades. The average houseplant can live for a whopping 50 years.

Are They Poisonous to Dogs and Cats?

The gardenia is toxic to both cats and dogs. Its flowers and foliage contain toxic chemicals such as genioposide and gardenoside.

The sap causes gastrointestinal upset and your pet may experience one or more of the following effects if it ingests the flowers or leaves:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • Hives

It is imperative that you contact your local vet if either your cat or dog has ingested any part of the houseplant.

Gardenia - size, lifespan, toxicity, growth speed (infographics)

Gardenia Care

A flourishing gardenia requires precise care. You will need to develop a consistent and well-thought-out care regime to maintain its glossy foliage and encourage those beautiful blooms.

Check out all of the gardenia’s preferred care requirements and environmental conditions below.

How Often to Water It

Cape jasmines prosper in moist potting soil, so you will need to water it once or twice a week during the spring and summertime. During winter and autumn, you will need to water it once every two weeks.

If you’re unsure about when to water your plant then check whether the top inch (2.5cm) of the soil is dry or not. When the surface of the potting mixture is dry you can evenly water the houseplant.

When watering it, avoid getting its leaves wet. This will cause the foliage to become infected and damaged.


The gardenia is a thirsty houseplant, therefore, it needs water to quickly and effectively drain out. You can create the optimal drainage system by planting the gardenia in a pot with drainage holes.

Additionally, you can grow the houseplant in a well-draining potting mixture too. This will allow excess moisture to flow out and evaporate easily.

Drainage is important as the roots need to receive plenty of oxygen and the plant cannot withstand soggy conditions, much like the dracaena.

When and How to Prune It

The Cape jasmine requires pruning to remove unhealthy foliage and encourage new growth. The best time to prune this houseplant is during the summertime.

Follow the steps below to trim off unhealthy stems and leaves:

  1. Use a sharp and sterilized blade to snip off any damaged stems at the base of the plant.
  2. You can simply pinch off the diseased or discolored leaves with your fingertips.
  3. Water the plant well if needed and position it in a sunny location.

How to Deadhead It

A gardenia jasminoides needs to be deadheaded once the blooms begin to die. Right after the flowers start to fade and wither away, you will need to remove them. This will promote new blooms and keep your plant looking healthy.

Check out the quick guide below.

  1. Find a sharp pair of scissors or pruners and cut the flower off at the base of the main plant.
  2. You can also pull the flower off of the stem too.


This houseplant should only be transplanted once every two years, just like the peperomia. If the roots begin to grow through the drainage holes then you must repot it straight away.

It is best to repot it during late spring and make sure to choose a pot that is about 1 to 2 inches (2.5 – 5cm) wider than its current container.

Go through the steps below:

  1. Loosen the soil by sliding a blunt knife along the pot’s perimeter. Now you can gently lift the plant out.
  2. Brush away the soil surrounding the rootball and fill a new container with fresh potting mix.
  3. Plant the gardenia at the same depth that it was previously and water it well.
  4. Position the houseplant back in its original home.

Care in Winter

Cape jasmine will require slightly different care during the wintertime. It will need to be placed by a bright windowsill where it can soak in plenty of sunlight.

Additionally, when temperatures drop below 60°F (16°C) it must be covered with a blanket or box to keep it warm. Be careful to avoid bending its branches while doing so.

Furthermore, you will need to reduce the number of times that you water it.

Environment Conditions

How Much Sun Do They Need?

Just like begonia, this houseplant prefers bright, indirect sunlight. It should never be placed under direct sunshine as its foliage will burn.

Ideally, you should make sure that it receives around 6 to 8 hours of bright sun during the spring and summertime, or a minimum of 4 hours during the winter.

Best Potting Soil

Cape jasmine loves acidic soil with a pH level of 6.5, which is the exact same requirement as the calathea houseplant.

It must be organically rich and aerated to keep the plant healthy. A peat-based potting mixture is perfect for this houseplant.

Try mix together one of the following potting soil recipes:

  • 1 part sand + 2 parts peat moss
  • 1 part perlite + 2 parts peat moss
Can It Grow in Water?

The gardenia is often grown in water as a way to showcase its blooms. You will need to snip off the stems and place them in a vase or jar of lukewarm water.

To maintain a healthy houseplant, make sure to replace the water at least once a week. You may also need to add liquid plant food to encourage healthy foliage.

Best Fertilizer

Gardenias grow well when fed with an acidic fertilizer. You should feed it once every 2 to 4 weeks during its active growing seasons. There is no need to fertilize the plant during winter or autumn.

The best type of fertilizer is a liquid, water-soluble one with the following ratios; 30-10-10, 9-13-11, or 9-8-7. To avoid overfeeding the plant you must dilute it to half its strength.

Pot Size and Type

The container must be 4 inches (10cm) wider than the rootball’s diameter. This will allow for plenty of space for new root growth and the extra soil will provide the plant with the necessary support.

The best type of pot is one made of plastic. This won’t dry out the soil quickly, and it will also allow for any excess moisture to flow out through the drainage holes.

Temperature Tolerance

Gardenia’s do well in warmer regions with a temperature range of 65 to 70°F (18 – 21°C). It can cope with temperatures as low as 50°F (10°C), however, it won’t produce blooms or new growth.

Humidity Level

The gardenia jasminoides must be grown in an area with a relative humidity level above 60 percent. You may need to take a few actions to maintain a consistent humidity level.

Try out one of the methods below:

  • Position a humidifier close to the houseplant.
  • Build a humidity tray.
  • Group it amongst other plants.
  • Place the plant in your steamy bathroom or humid kitchen.
  • Mist the foliage with tepid water.

Can You Plant It Outside?

Cape jasmine can be grown outdoors in USDA hardiness zones of 8 to 11. If you live in a cooler area then you can place it outside during the spring and summertime.

You will need to move your plant indoors if the temperature dips below 60°F (16°C). Additionally, you may need to relocate your houseplant indoors during the nighttime.

Furthermore, you must place it in a shady area to avoid leaf burn, and the plant will require more water when grown outdoors too.

Gardenia - care, water, light, soil, pot, temperature, fertilizer (infographics)


The gardenia blooms pure white flowers with a wonderful fragrance. The layered petals are often accompanied by a yellow center. We’ll discuss more about these fantastic blooms in the following section.

When and How Often Does It Bloom?

It is a seasonal bloomer and tends to flower from late spring to early autumn. The houseplant flowers once a year after it has reached its mature size.

How Long Do Its Blooms Last?

A gardenia jasminoides will produce blooms lasting for around 2 to 3 weeks. Once they begin to die, the wilted flowers will form bright orange seed pods.

You can harvest these pods and plant the seeds next spring.

How to Make It Bloom

The gardenia will bloom when grown in the optimal environment. You will need to feed it regularly, water it well, maintain adequate humidity levels, and place it under bright sunshine.

You will also need to make an effort to prevent the dropping of buds. We’ll discuss how to combat this issue later on.

Why Isn’t It Blooming?

The buds may not open or flower when the houseplant is exposed to extreme temperatures, and if the soil is not acidic then the plant won’t produce blooms either. Another culprit preventing your plant from blooming is when it’s pruned during the incorrect time of year.

How to Preserve Its Flowers

You can preserve the gardenia’s flowers and turn them into a lovely centerpiece. First, the flowers must be cut properly. You will need to cut the stems at a 45° angle and pluck off any leaves that may become submerged underwater.

Next, you must fill a vase with room temperature water and place the flowers inside. It’s a good idea to add floral preservatives to maintain healthy-looking blooms.

If you want these flowers to last for as long as possible then make sure to replace the water every 3 to 4 days.

How to Grow Gardenias

You can expand your Cape jasmine collection by propagating it or planting its seeds. If you want to enhance your chances of success then we suggest carrying out each of these methods during the springtime.


The gardenia’s stem cuttings can be rooted in either soil or water. Before propagating the plant, you will need to sterilize your tools. You can wipe them down with a diluted bleach solution or rubbing alcohol mixture.

When choosing the stem to root, make sure that it’s healthy and green. An unhealthy stem isn’t likely to root or produce new growth.

How to Grow It from Cuttings in Soil

Planting a stem cutting in well-draining soil is a reliable and easy method. The best type of potting mixture to use is one made of equal parts sand and peat moss.

Check out the steps below:

  1. Use a sharp pair of scissors and snip off a 5 inch (12.7cm) long stem.
  2. You will need to pick off a few leaves so that there are only two attached to the cutting.
  3. Dip the cut end in rooting hormone and plant it in a container with moist soil.
  4. Position the cutting under bright light and make sure to water it regularly.
  5. In 4 to 8 weeks the cutting should have rooted and new leaf growth will emerge.

Cuttings Propagation in Water

Propagating a stem cutting in water allows you to watch the roots grow. All you need to do is place a stem in a glass of water and repot it in soil.

Here’s a step-by-step guide:

  1. Cut a stem that is approximately 5 inches (12.7cm) long.
  2. Remove a few leaves so that there are only two remaining.
  3. Cover the cut area with rooting hormone and fill a glass jar with lukewarm water.
  4. Place the cutting in the water and monitor it for new growth.
  5. You will need to add fresh water every 3 days or so.
  6. After 4 to 8 weeks, you will notice new root growth and then you can transplant it into fresh soil.

Seed Planting

Growing a gardenia from seed is no quick task. The process may be long and you will only see blooms after 2 or 3 years.

We’ve compiled a straightforward guide below:

  1. Collect the seeds from the pod by picking them out with a pair of tweezers.
  2. Rinse the seeds by placing them in a wire basket and running cool water over them.
  3. Place the seeds in a paper bag for a month to allow them time to dry out.
  4. Fill a tray with 1 part perlite and 1 part peat moss.
  5. Scatter the seeds evenly across the soil and cover them with a thin layer of the potting mixture.
  6. Mist the seeds and keep them out of direct sunshine.
  7. The seeds will germinate in 4 to 6 weeks’ time. Once they produce two true leaves you can transplant the seedlings into their own containers.

How to Revive a Dying Plant

Cape jasmine often runs into numerous health problems when not optimally cared for. A lack of precise care will result in discolored foliage, bud drop, and wilting.

Don’t freak out because each of these issues can be resolved by making a few changes. We’ll discuss what may be wrong with your houseplant and how to revive it.

Why Are the Leaves Turning Yellow?

Yellowing foliage may occur when the plant is deficient in important nutrients, watered improperly, or placed under direct sunshine.

You will need to feed your houseplant more frequently if you suspect that it’s lacking in nutrients. It’s best to opt for a fertilizer that’s high in iron.

The soil must be kept moist at all times, however, it must never become waterlogged. You will need to adjust your watering schedule to achieve this balance.

The foliage will lose its vibrant appearance and may become yellow when it receives too much sunlight. The harsh sun rays will scorch the leaves, so find a bright area where it’ll receive indirect sunshine.

Bud Drop

Flower buds tend to fall off when the gardenia is placed in a new environment, underwatered, or grown in a dry home.

The shock caused by a change of location will last for about a week. Once it adjusts to the new environment, it will be good as new.

It flourishes in moist potting soil, so you will need to water it deeply if you suspect that the soil has dried out.

The plant loves a humid area and if your household’s air is too dry then you’ll need to mist the foliage three times a week.

Leaves Turning Brown

The foliage may brown when the humidity level is too low, temperatures are too high, or when the plant is overwatered.

This plant needs a decent amount of moisture to survive. You must create a humid surrounding for your houseplant. The easiest and fastest way to do so is by placing an electric humidifier near the houseplant.

When the temperature begins to rise you will need to relocate it. You must position it in a cooler part of your home.

Overwatering can cause damage to the plant’s roots and foliage. You must refrain from watering it and tweak your watering schedule to avoid this issue reoccurring.


Wilting and shriveling leaves occur when the houseplant is watered improperly, grown in a dry region, and when the temperature is too hot.

Over- and underwatering will both damage the houseplant. You will need to water it thoroughly if the soil has dried out, however, if the soil is waterlogged then you must refrain from watering it for a few days.

The gardenia thrives in tropical regions so when the air becomes too dry you will need to create a humid environment. You can accomplish this by placing the plant on a humidity tray. Find a shallow tray and fill it with some water and pebbles. You will then position the pot on top of the pebbles.

During the summertime, the temperature may become too high. You will need to find a new cooler home for the houseplant and keep it out of direct sunshine.

Brown Spots on the Leaves

Brown spots are caused by a common bacterial infection called Rhizoctonia. This is typically caused by overwatering your gardenia.

When the plant becomes waterlogged, bacteria tend to breed and the roots don’t receive enough oxygen. You will need to cut off the unhealthy roots.

Final Remarks

Although the gardenia may be tricky to care for, it is well worth the effort. It flowers absolutely gorgeous blossoms that add a touch of elegance and luxury to your home or make for the ideal gift.

If you provide it with adequate care then you will be able to watch your houseplant thrive year-round.

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