Why Are Your Gardenia Leaves Turning Yellow? We Have Answers

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Why Are Your Gardenia Leaves Turning Yellow? We Have Answers

Why are your gardenia leaves turning yellow? There are a few possibilities. Because they’re one of the prima donnas of the plant world, gardenias need everything to be just so, from the soil pH and drainage to the amount of water and fertilizer you give them. Luckily for them, their creamy white flowers have such a bewitching fragrance that they con us into meeting their persnickety needs, or at least trying very hard to keep them happy. So when some leaves on your gardenia start turning yellow, it can be worrisome.

Here, we’ll look at possible reasons for this and suggest a few easy solutions. Soon enough, your fussy bloom will be green and gorgeous again, so it can produce more of those fantastic perfumed flowers that made you bring your gardenia home in the first place.

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gardenia flowers

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Gardenia Growing Basics

If you live in the warmer regions of the country (USDA Zones 8-11), you can grow gardenias outdoors where they’re easier to maintain. However, growing gardenias indoors during cold weather is where it gets tricky. The basic indoor gardenia needs are bright light, humidity, and regular watering. So try to put your plant in your sunniest window, set it on a saucer of rocks with water part way up the saucer to add humidity, and water it as soon as the top inch of soil feels dry.

Gardenia Leaves Turning Yellow

Naturally, some older leaves on gardenias may become yellow and drop off, particularly at the beginning of spring when the new leaves are on their way. This is normal, so there’s no need to start worrying. But if too many older leaves are yellowing, your gardenia may be dying from root rot due to overwatering or poor soil drainage. Gently tip it out of its pot, or if it’s outdoors, lightly dig away a little soil at the base of the plant. If the roots you see are brown and squishy, your plant isn’t salvageable. If you find white, firm roots, it still has a chance.

If root rot doesn’t appear to be the problem, the most likely reason for gardenia leaves turning yellow is a nutrient deficiency. Yellowing of many older leaves is often a sign of insufficient nitrogen or magnesium. Young gardenia leaves turning yellow is likely from low iron. All can be fixed by giving your gardenia a dose of an acidic nitrogen fertilizer containing micronutrients. Once your gardenia leaves are green again, use the fertilizer twice a month from early spring to late summer.

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Because of their exacting care requirements, gardenias are among the trickier houseplants to grow and can be challenging as outdoor shrubs, too. Knowing what they require to look their best and correctly diagnosing any problems that do crop up will help you enjoy your plant for many years.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Should yellow leaves be removed from gardenias?

    Most of the time (especially if the leaves are yellowing due to age), the discolored leaves will fall off on their own. If you think gardenia leaves turning yellow is a sign of something more serious (like fungus or rot), snip them off where the leaf meets the branch (being careful not to damage the wood), and dispose of the diseased leaves to prevent further infection. You can also prune off yellow leaves to encourage new growth and improve the look of the plant. Be careful of new buds, and try not to remove more than one-third of the shrub in an overall pruning.

  • Why do gardenias need iron?

    Iron is an essential nutrient needed for the production of chlorophyll (the green pigment in leaves). Unfortunately, gardenias are fussy, acid-loving plants that prefer to grow in soil with a pH.0 to 6.5—conditions that sometimes result in a lack of sufficient soluble iron for the plant to thrive.

  • What’s the easiest way to test soil pH?

    The easiest way to test your soil pH level is with a kit from your local garden or hardware store. Just collect samples of soil from different areas in your garden and follow the instructions on your kit to evaluate your samples. You’ll only need about a teaspoon of soil (from approximately 6 inches deep) in each area.

Most Popular Flowers & Plants in the USA

RegionPopular FlowersPopular Plants
Northeast (e.g., New York, Massachusetts)Rose, Purple Lilac, Mountain LaurelSugar Maple, American Elm, White Pine
Southeast (e.g., Florida, Georgia)Orange Blossom, Cherokee Rose, Southern MagnoliaLive Oak, Spanish Moss, Saw Palmetto
Midwest (e.g., Ohio, Illinois)Carnation, Violet, Purple ConeflowerBur Oak, Prairie Grasses, Wild Bergamot
Southwest (e.g., Texas, Arizona)Bluebonnet, Saguaro Cactus Flower, Indian PaintbrushJoshua Tree, Agave, Mesquite
West (e.g., California, Washington)California Poppy, Coast Rhododendron, BitterrootGiant Sequoia, Redwood, Manzanita
Rocky Mountain (e.g., Colorado, Montana)Rocky Mountain Columbine, Bitterroot, Indian PaintbrushBlue Spruce, Aspen, Sagebrush
Great Plains (e.g., Kansas, Nebraska)Sunflower, Goldenrod, Purple ConeflowerCottonwood, Bluestem Grasses, Buffalo Grass
Pacific Northwest (e.g., Oregon, Alaska)Oregon Grape, Forget-me-not, Pacific RhododendronDouglas Fir, Western Hemlock, Ferns

This table includes the most popular flowers and plants in the USA by region, which considers a range of botanical species, including native and widely cultivated varieties.

Most Popular Flowers & Plants in Australia

RegionPopular FlowersPopular Plants
New South WalesWaratah, Bottlebrush, Flannel FlowerEucalyptus, Acacia, Banksia
VictoriaCommon Heath, Waxflower, Pink HeathMountain Ash, Silver Wattle, Victorian Blue Gum
QueenslandCooktown Orchid, Golden Penda, Umbrella Tree FlowerMoreton Bay Fig, Macadamia Nut, Queensland Bottle Tree
South AustraliaSturt's Desert Pea, Kangaroo Paw, Eucalyptus BlossomAdelaide Blue Gum, South Australian Blue Gum, Saltbush
Western AustraliaRed and Green Kangaroo Paw, Mangles Kangaroo Paw, Swan River DaisyJarrah, Marri, Karri
TasmaniaTasmanian Blue Gum, Leatherwood Flower, Tasmanian WaratahHuon Pine, Tasmanian Oak, Myrtle Beech
Northern TerritorySturt's Desert Rose, Frangipani, Desert RoseBoab, Gidgee, Spinifex
Australian Capital TerritoryRoyal Bluebell, Australian Daisy, CorreaSnow Gum, River Red Gum, Black Mountain

This table offers a basic overview of popular flowers and plants in each Australian region, focusing on a combination of state flowers, native species, and other characteristic plants. It's important to note that specific species' popularity and prevalence can vary. This table is a simplified representation. Consulting local botanical gardens or regional horticultural societies in Australia would be ideal for more detailed and accurate information.

Charlotte Gammon

By Charlotte Gammon

Meet Charlotte Gammon, our expert and author. She's our true treasure, as she has got 20+ years of experience in gardening, winery and house design. In early 2000s, she worked for today.com magazine and was in charge of the gaardening section. Later on, Charlotte opened her own designer agency and worked as a designer and decorator. We are happy to have Charlotte with us, as she is our good friend. We value her experience and we're sure you will love the articles she created for our blog.