How to Save a Gardenia Plant with Yellow Leaves


Dark green shiny leaves are one of the biggest selling points and noticeable qualities of a gardenia plant. That’s why it’s always a huge concern when the gardenia leaves start to turn yellow. There are several things that can contribute to the leaves turning yellow, and steps you can take to revive the plant to its former beauty and vibrance.

Why Gardenia Plant Leaves Turn Yellow

The first step to reviving your gardenia plant is to understand the most common reasons for the development of yellow leaves.

1. Over-Watering or Under-Watering

Improper watering tends to be the most common culprit. Yellow leaves can eventually develop due to both under-watering and over-watering habits.

Over-watering, for example, may contribute to poor soil drainage. This prevents the plant roots from absorbing the necessary nutrients for the plant to thrive. Generally speaking, gardenia plants should be fine with having one inch of water per week.

A soil moisture meter is a cheap and effective investment if you continue to have trouble putting the right amount of water into the soil.

2. Poor Soil Drainage and Root Rotting

You might be giving the gardenia plant the right amount of water but the state of the soil could be preventing the water from draining out properly. Poor soil drainage will lead to plant diseases like root rot, which is a common reason for gardenia leaves turning yellow.

Poor soil drainage won’t just kill your gardenia plant. It will also introduce other unwanted problems, such as the development of fungus gnats. These gnats can become a big nuisance so it’s important to you resolve this as soon as possible.

3. Gardenia is Not Getting Enough Sunlight

Gardenia plants are temperamental and require just the right amount of sunlight to thrive. Leaves can turn yellow or brown if the plant is either getting too much or too little sunlight. The optimal condition would be to place the gardenia plant in a spot where it receives plenty of sunlight in the morning and partial shade in the afternoon.

4. Lack of Nutrients in Soil

Gardenia plants require a soil pH between 5 and 6.5 to thrive. An off-balanced soil pH could prevent the plant from absorbing important nutrients. For example, Iron, nitrogen, zinc, and magnesium are all required nutrients for the gardenia plant.

Deficiencies in any of these nutrients may cause leaves to turn yellow. Yellow leaves with green tips could be viewed as a sign of a magnesium deficiency, while yellow tips with green branch bases may signal a plant with iron deficiencies.

How to Save a Gardenia Plant with Yellow Leaves

Here are some steps you could take to revive the gardenia plant now that you know what are the most common causes of yellow or brown leaves.

1. Maintain Proper Soil Conditions

Have your soil tested with a soil tester kit if you aren’t sure of the existing pH conditions. Check that the soil pH is between 5 to 6.5. If it’s outside this range, you may need to take certain steps like adding peat moss, manure, or other organic matter to balance out the conditions.

2. Maintain Proper Humidity & Temperature

It’s important to grow the gardenia plant in optimal temperature and humidity levels. We suggest finding a spot in the house where the daytime temperature is around 65 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit. The night temperature can fall anywhere between 60 and 65 degrees Fahrenheit.

For handling humidity, daily misting could do wonders for a gardenia plant. This, however, wouldn’t be necessary if you live in a place with high humidity levels.

3. Maintain Good Fertilize Balance

A good soil nutrient balance is important for the gardenia plant to thrive. During growing season (usually March through October), you should fertilize the soil every two to four weeks. You can reduce the fertilizer frequency in the off-season. Products like the Perfect Plants liquid fertilizer is perfect for this.


  • Olga:

    When is it best to prune

  • Robin Heuer:

    My gardenia plant receives afternoon sun. I have not added peat moss but will do that and see if the leaves quit turning yellow. It was blooming when I bought it but has only had one bloom since. It’s been in the ground about 3 weeks. Thank you.

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