Why Are My Gardenia Leaves Curling?

Gardenias are beautiful shrubs that have lush, waxy leaves, and fragrant flowers. It is a bit depressing to observe your Gardenia leaves curled up. In contrast to the Snake plants that thrive in neglect, Gardenias need a lot of care and attention.

The leaves of the gardenia plant curl because of improper watering methods poor quality of water, poor soil selection, heat trauma and the wrong humidity. Additionally pests like spider mites and aphids, fungal diseases can cause leaves of gardenia to curled.

Don’t be concerned. In this article, we will look at the reasons for this and discover some ways to stop it from occurring on your property.

Watering Techniques and Soil Issues


Gardenias are native to tropical climates. They are fond of water and prefer soil that is moist. When you submerge them, their leaves are swollen and attempt to communicate the message that they require more water.

In more severe instances, they become dry or leggy and can even die. If the leaves appear brown, yellow, or clear and wet to touch. If the plant goes through bud drops, then underwatering is the cause.

Although the plant is drought-resistant but keeping the soil dry for long periods of time can cause the demise of the plant.


  1. Regular regular watering is beneficial for the gardenias. The shrub should be watered each week, with at least 1 inches of water. In winter, you should keep this amount as the highest.
  2. Always ensure that the topmost inch of the soil is damp.
  3. Be sure the soil is not too wet or dry because it can cause the leaves curl.
  4. It is also possible to insulate the soil using mulch and organic bark to hold in the moisture.
  5. If you can you can use the rainwater, or distillate water in lieu of tap water.

gardenia several white blooms on plant

Water Quality

Gardenias can’t tolerate alkaline or hard water because of the presence of chemicals such as fluoride, chlorine and various salts. Soft water is a source of sodium that is excessive.

Tap water usage over an extended period of time results in salt accumulation, and the plant is affected and becomes dry. Also, it causes chlorosis. an outcome of the high sodium and chloramine in water.

The leaves change color and curl, or even wilt because of the absence of chlorophyll within the leaves. The hard water can also affect the effectiveness of insecticide soaps and concentrated mix because of the presence of magnesium, calcium, and iron.


  1. Rainwater and melting snow is an excellent source of water for the gardenias
  2. Avoid softened water as it contains high levels of sodium.
  3. If you are unable to receive rainwater in a hurry, put the tap with water in an open container or jug and let it sit through the night. The chemicals that are in the water will evaporate and it is suitable for irrigation of your plants.
  4. If none of these methods work then you can make use of distilled water every month to flush out the salts that remain in the tap water.
  5. When you spray insecticidal soaps ensure you use distilled water, bottled or filtered water.

Overwatering Leading to Root Rot

Although gardenias are a water-loving plants, they do have limits to the amount of water they can store. The soil that is wet and overwatered isn’t oxygen-rich and can result in root damage.

The leaves begin to droop, and then fall. This can lead to fungal diseases , or even decay of the roots. The smelly, rotten, or damaged roots are unable to transmit vital minerals and nutrients to other areas in the plant.

The result is a physiological issue that appears on the leaves. This results in wilted, damaged, or curled leaves.


  1. Gardenias require a minimum of 1 inch of high-quality water per week. In colder and winter months it is possible to use this as your maximum requirement.
  2. The soil must be moist. It should not be soaked with water.
  3. If your soil is damp after even a small amount, it could be a problem with soil.
  4. If the soil is contaminated by fungal growth, break it down and then repot it in new soil that is draining well and rich of nutrients.
  5. Choose a soil that’s light enough to not be too heavy. It is possible to alter the soil , or add perlite, sand, or organic matter to improve drainage.
  6. The material of the pot also influences the timing of watering. For instance the terracotta pot is prone to losing the water via its pores. Therefore, you must adjust your watering schedule with that in your mind.
  7. Make sure whether the pot has adequate drainage holes. The excess water must be drained. If it is not done, the roots will begin to rot.

Soil Problems

Well-drained, acidic and rich in nutrients, devoid of nematodes, is ideal for the gardenias. Clayey or heavy soils could become dense if you overwater them.

In addition, overcrowding the soil with other plants can cause competition in the soil , which can slow the growth of roots. Gardenias prefer soil that is moist.

If you are using soil as the medium for rooting for your plants, in conditions of moisture, it can limit the drainage and aeration. This can cause soil and root-related ailments that manifest in the leaf.

Mixing with other insulation materials like mulch to ensure soil health.


  1. Keep in mind that soil pH needs been set somewhere between 5.0 to 6.5. Keep the soil moist throughout the day and ensure that it alkaline.
  2. Wood shavings, compost, and shredded bark aid in insulation of plants and preventing weed growth
  3. To ensure that the pH is maintained ensure that your soil is regularly fertilized with fertilizers that react to acid.
  4. Utilize a slow-release, acidic fertilizer that is suitable for gardening and only fertilize once a year. In the spring, when new growth begins and then in the summer.

Temperature And Humidity

Temperature Trauma

Gardenias thrive in warm temperatures due to of their roots. Therefore, it is essential to provide a warm and comfortable atmosphere for plants. If temperatures drop to below 60 degrees Fahrenheit (15degC) in the evening the leaves could curl.

The cold or freezing weather can be a shock to the plant. If temperatures are too high and exceeds 90degF (32degC) in the daytime, or when the plant is exposed to intense midday heat leaves curling and scorching could occur.


  1. In summer you can place the plant outside in a sunny area where the sun is bright and full , but not so direct onto the plants that it burns the leaves. In winter you can bring the plants inside and put the plants in an arid, bright area.
  2. The indoors with west or south-facing windows are ideal to grow gardenias. Be careful not to place the plants too near to the glass because it could cause burnt leaves, browning and crispness.
  3. Gardenias like 60degF (15degC) in the evening and temperatures between 70degF and 75degF (21degC-22degC) in the daytime.
  4. In winter you can make use of an indoor heater in winter to provide artificial warmth and maintain the temperature of your plant.

Humidity Issues

Gardenias flourish and thrive when the humidity is at or above 50 percent. If you reside in a cold area in which the temperature is below 60 degrees Fahrenheit (15degC), as well as the atmosphere is dry in the winter months, the amount of humidity will decrease.

The plants draw nutrients and water through their roots, and then send out excess water through transpiration. If the moisture is not high and the air circulation is near zero, it’s difficult for the plants to sweat in a normal manner. (Transpiration is the process by which plants exhale water vapor via the stomata) To prevent losing water, leaves will curl up.


  1. One of the most effective ways to boost humidity is to have an air humidifier near the plant during winter.
  2. It is also possible to put together plants and set them on water plates with pebbles that are wet on top.
  3. Misting the plant can help replicate the conditions in which the plant thrives. To get the best outcomes, you should mist your plant at least every day, with any water getting into the soil (too too much water could cause soil to become soggy and ultimately lead to root rot)

Pests And Diseases

Aphid Attacks

Aphids are insects with a pear shape that form clusters on stems, and then deform the flowers, buds and leaves. A different term for aphids is “plant lice..’

They absorb all the sap and nutrients of the leaf. They curl the leaves and cause growth slows. Aphids also reproduce quickly and multiply which makes them hard to control. If your plant is in bloom the aphids can cause abrupt drops in the quantity and quality.


  1. It is important to examine the leaf’s undersides and clean them thoroughly with the water jet or hose.
  2. Pick out the aphids individually with soapy water and an abrasive or soft cloth.
  3. Spraying alcohol can help to treat the leaves.
  4. It is also possible to spray insecticidal soaps and horticultural oils on the leaves that the aphids are residing. Spraying intervals of 5 days to one week, and make sure to water your plants thoroughly prior to the spray. Plants suffering from drought is likely to have difficulty dealing with treatments.
  5. Make sure to treat the plant only when temperatures outside are lower than 90 degrees (32degC) as well as only late in the evening to avoid unexpected shocks or injuries on the plants.

Spider Mites

Spider mites are so small and convincing, so you won’t even know they’re the most likely culprits when you notice that gardenia leaves begin to wrinkle or curl. Spider mites are difficult to spot and appear reddish-brown.

They create fine thread-like strands of webs that run across the leaves, and then consume from the leaves. As opposed to aphids they can’t be easily removed. In the gardenias, spider mites can result in streaks of white (stippling). Spider mites are also fond of dry and dusty environments.


  1. Be sure to place the plant in a clean environment. Do not let dust accumulate on the leaves since it can be a breeding place for mites.
  2. To determine whether your plant is infested with mites, put a piece of paper under the plant, and then shake it vigorously. If there are mites they will move around quickly, indicating the presence of mites.
  3. Miticides can be used to control spider mites, however when they’ve laid eggs sacs, the effectiveness of the miticides is reduced dramatically. Then, you’ll need to apply them again every five days during summer, and at weekly intervals throughout the winter months.
  4. Make sure that your plant has enough room and the ability to breathe. If you crowd them in with taller plants it is less luminous and it becomes a prime target to insects.
  5. The most important thing is to spray until you’re sure that all the spider mites have gone. If needed, perform your leaf shake test.

Sooty Mold is a result of Insect Infestations

Sooty mold is a dark dusty layer on leaves. If insects sucking sap from the leaves and plants, they release an excretion that is known as honeydew.

It is the result that you get a grey or black leaf. The sooty mold doesn’t directly cause curling of the leaf, however, it block sunlight and hinders photosynthesis.

It also is susceptible to other flies and pests attacks as well as environmental problems due to its weak immunity. The result is that the leaves curl and dying, or wilting.


  1. If you notice sooty mold, apply a wet rag to clean the surface on the leaf. The soot will fall off and reveal the healthy, green leaves’ body.
  2. Sooty mold can be a result of an infestation by insects So you must concentrate on removing the insects instead of dealing with the problem. Look for plants that are growing over and beneath the gardenia plant. In some cases, insects splatter honeydew onto healthy plants.
  3. Apply horticultural oils to the leaves during the summertime. It is also possible to use the swab of a cotton swab or medicated alcohol to remove the sap that has spilled on the plants. Clean the plant with insecticidal soap, and allow them to dry naturally.

Powdery Mildew

The white, fuzzy, powdery mildew, is a layer of fungus that is composed of tiny spores that are attached to the leaves. They resemble the powder of talcum and are found on the plant’s surface and cause deformed leaves, flowers, and buds.

This fungal fungus Erysiphe polygonicauses powdery mildew on the gardenias. The mildew that causes powdery mildew starts to grow in the summer months and is at its peak towards the end in the year. Because it affects young leaves, it’s much more crucial to treat them when you notice them.


  1. Maintain the plant as near to the light source as you can; ensure that there is sufficient ventilation and less moisture to stop the growth of the fungus.
  2. Cut off the infected leaves or stems.
  3. Apply fungicides to stop the illness.
  4. You can also apply potassium bicarbonate, sulfur or neem oil to the areas affected to ease and help treat the infection.
  5. Make sure that your plant isn’t overly humid to avoid powdery mildew

To treat fungal illnesses. These are the fungalicides that I suggest:

Stem Canker

Cankers are long brown lesions which cause bumps or swellings on plant stems, particularly near the soil of the gardenia plant. This fungal fungus Phomopsis gardeniaecauses this, and more alarmingly it extends to the roots and leaves.

The leaves curl or turn brown and turn less green, lighter yellow and then the leaves begin to fall. This can also cause a slowdown in growth. When the moisture is excessive the fungus can easily spread and can cause diseases to the plant. It thrives during winter in the lesions.


  1. First, you must stop the plant from becoming injured further. Cut off the affected stems.
  2. Clean your garden shears between cuts, and then trim the affected stems. It is possible to use an alcohol solution with greater than 70% alcohol in order to clean your cutting tools. A bleach solution that contains one part bleach and nine parts of water can be another method to ensure your tools are free of infections.
  3. Do not stress the plant more. Be sure to water or irrigate your plant at the bottom of the soil. This is because water on the stems encourages the growth of fungal species. A pot that drains well is extremely beneficial.
  4. In the event that your equipment is damaged beyond repair, the only choice is to dispose of it.

Tips to Prevent Gardenia Leaves From Curling

  • Gardenias thrive in soils that are moist.
  • They favor regular and consistent watering methods.
  • Avoid soft and hard water.
  • For soaps that repel insects, use either bottled or distillated water.
  • Check that your soil pH is not acidic. the pH of the soil must be between 5 to 6.5
  • Eliminate pests immediately after you notice them.
  • Disinfect your gardening tools between cuts.
  • Maintain your plant in clean conditions since dust feeds spider mites.
  • The high humidity promotes the growth of fungal spores.
  • Beware of planting your plant in soil that is too dense.

Final Words

Gardenias pose a challenge for gardeners So if your gardenia isn’t doing well, it’s normal. They can be difficult for even experienced gardeners.

If you adhere to the directions, be sure to watch for signs of infection Be wary of pests and watering techniques and make sure that the plant is similar to the native habitat, your plant will thrive and survive.



Went from a bad gardener to a half-decent one over 10+ years. Super happy to share my tips and tricks with you :)