Gardenia plants are a popular choice for many gardeners and indoor plant enthusiasts.
These attractive plants have blooms similar to roses but are somewhat less fussy.
Their heady scent and the rich green foliage make them real winners. Unfortunately, a lot of garden pests tend to agree.
Aphids, mealybugs, scale, spider mites, thrips, and whiteflies all love to drink the sap out of your poor gardenias.
An infestation of one or more of these pests can harm your plant in both looks and health.
In extreme cases, they can even result in the plant’s death. Knowing how to deal with these little beasts is thus essential.
How To Control Pests On Gardenia Plants
It’s essential to identify the type of infestation of pests, but many treatments will work on most of these unwanted guests.
Here are some great remedies that can keep your gardenia pest-free and happy.
A wide range of beneficial insects will see the infestation on your outdoor gardenias as a buffet.
Some of these helpers include:
- Mealybug killer
- Parasitic wasps
Plants such as marigolds and rosemary will help attract these allies, and you can also buy them online in a pinch.
Neem comes in three different forms, all of which work differently.
Neem cakes may be broken up and used as a fertilizer.
The trace amounts of neem oil will kill many ground-based pests and help hinder ants looking to harvest honeydew.
100% percent cold-pressed raw neem oil makes an excellent soil soak. Mix 2 tablespoons with an emulsion (1 teaspoon Castile or Dawn soap and 1 gallon of water).
Pour 2 – 4 cups of the soak onto the soil surrounding your gardenia in a radius the size of the root system.
The mixture will kill ground pests and absorb into the roots, becoming a systemic insecticide.
Neem soil soaks will remain potent in the plant for up to 22 days and attack any piercing or chewing bugs.
Reapply the soak every 14 to 21 days to cut out the infestation or as a preventative.
Meanwhile, clarified hydrophobic neem oil comes in percentages of .5% – 3% percent.
Neem Oil spray: Add 4 teaspoons of 1% percent clarified neem to your emulsion to create an effective foliar spray.
Thoroughly soak down the plant at dawn or dusk, making sure to get the crevasses and undersides of leaves.
It will kill most pests on contact, including whitefly nymphs, but you may not be able to hit the whitefly adults.
Reapply every other day for 14 days or until the infestation is gone, then once every 14 days as a preventative.
NOTE: You should always test a small part of the plant 24 hours before making a complete neem application. This will ensure the plant isn’t allergic or oversensitive.
Always dilute soap, as many plants can be sensitive to it, and it can also strip away any waxy coatings.
A spray made from Dawn dish soap, pure Castile soap, or insecticidal soap at a ratio of 1 tablespoon per quart can be an effective spray treatment.
Coat the plant as you would a neem spray.
The soap will destroy the protective waxy coating on mealybugs and scale and suffocate any pests it coats.
A Note on Other Home Remedies
There are other potential remedies out there that will kill some or all these pests.
But, use caution when applying them, as they may prove too harsh for some gardenia varieties.
Here is a couple that has proven highly effective but requires patience or extra care in using:
- Apple Cider Vinegar: spray the plant using one part vinegar to four parts water.
- Diatomaceous Earth: dust the leaves every few days when there’s no risk of rain
- Essential Oils: dilute citrus or peppermint oil in water and spray the plant every few days
Hosing your gardenia down is a common suggestion but it doesn’t work. The water jet will merely knock the pests off of your plant without killing them, which can lead to them infesting other nearby plants.