browning leaves

Asked March 28, 2020, 3:33 PM EDT

When we bought the gardenia plant the instruction said to place the plant in a pot of water and water plant when pot is dry. Place in sun. Is this the true way of watering the Gardenia Plant? The leaves are browning and some buds are just dropping off before blooming. IS THERE ANYTHING I SHOULD BE DOING TO PREVENT THE BROWNING OF LEAVES AND DROPPING OF BUDS? THANK YOU FOR ALL OF YOUR ADVICE MIGHT HELP ME. GARDENIA' S HAVE BEEN MY FAVORITE FLOWER FOR SEVENY YEARS OR MORE

Larimer County Colorado

5 Responses

Hi ! I don't see a photo of your plant, so I am assuming that you didn't send one. In the future, it is always helpful to the person answering the question, if you can include a photo of the plant in question and the issue being addressed. I will have to ask, then, if you you still have the gardenia plant in a pot of water ? If that is the case, then please remove it from the pot of water, allow the water to drain out of the container the plant is in, set the container on a saucer containing some small marbles or pebbles or something of that nature, such that the bottom of the container does not sit down into the saucer, in order to keep the bottom of the container from having "wet feet"; that is, wet roots. Most plants, including gardenias, don't like continually wet roots. This will cause rotting and eventually, the death of the plant. So, you should make sure that your gardenia is potted in a well-draining potting mix designed for acid-loving plants if you can find it, or just some good new potting soil; don't reuse previously used soil. (Good news ! Some of the local garden centers have potting mixes on sale right now.) Over watering and under watering symptoms can look the same, with browning leaves and dropping buds, but you can do the digit test, that is, put your finger, down to about the second knuckle, into the container and see if the soil feels moist - not sopping wet, but moist. If it is too wet and soppy, it is over-watered. If it is over watered, you risk attracting undesirable insects along with root rot. If it is dry and resists your finger, it is under watered.
If it appears to be properly watered, then, although the instructions said to place in a sunny window, your plant might be getting too much sun. Perhaps the sun is beating too hot through the window, perhaps scorching the leaves ? If this is a possibility you might want to consider allowing the gardenia to get a bit of shade in the afternoon, maybe moving it away from the window or placing it in a less sunny spot when the sun is at its hottest, or even hanging a sheer curtain in that window to filter the light somewhat. I am assuming that you have the plant in either a south or west-facing window.
Thirdly, you didn't mention if you are fertilizing the plant. If you have been over fertilizing, that could be causing the brown leaves and dropping buds. If it hasn't had food for awhile, two weeks or more, you might want to consider adding some liquid or water-soluble plant food, following the package instructions for feeding plants in containers (usually half-strength or less). Again, be careful not to overfeed - follow label instructions.
I guess it goes without saying, but I will also mention, that gardenias are not cold-hardy in the ground here in Colorado, they are a southern shrub.
Gardenias are challenging, but I love them, too. I had a gardenia shrub where I used to live in Florida, and I miss that wonderful scent of the blossoms. I hope that this information is helpful to you in saving your gardenia. If you have further questions or want to include a photo, reply to this email. Best of luck to you with your gardenia !

Thank you very much for your response. It is very helpful. My concern was also my plant still has new leaves growing even though brown leaving and falling buds. I will try everything you have suggested. Again thank you so much for your help. BE SAFE.

You are welcome, and thank YOU ! I think that the plant getting new leaves along with the brown leaves and falling buds might be a positive note. Perhaps the gardenia went through a traumatic situation, such as over watering, or a sudden drop in temperature, or an over-fertilization, or too much sun for too long, or...whatever. The fact that it is getting new leaves, though, sounds to me like it survived that traumatic event and might be recovering from it. Keep an eye on it to see if the new leaves stay on (good), or if they fall off, too. (not so good) And of course, monitor the soil moisture, sun, fertilization, etc. Make sure to look closely for insects such as fungus gnats and aphids, too.

Thank you again for your advise. I lived in Florida for 20 years before moving to Colorado. My neighbor had a beautiful Gardenia bush in there front yard. I went outside one day and the Gardenia bush was gone. I asked him what happened and he informed me he pulled it out and trashed it. I could have cried. I would have gladly taken it and planted in my yard. Thank you again and be safe.

Oh, my goodness ! Trashed a gardenia bush ?!? That IS sad. I think my reaction would have been similar. It is unfortunate that many people do not treasure plants. We lived in Tampa, FL for about 26 years before moving here. I must admit, I miss many things about it, but many things I don't miss, either. Take good care.