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A popular ornamental shrub in the South, gardenias (Gardenia augusta/Gardenia jasminoides) is known for its stringent care requirements and their enticing scent.
It is true that gardenias can be very labor-intensive to grow in some areas.
Outdoor Gardenia Care
The cold sensitivity of gardenias means that they should only be grown in mild winter climates, or in pots that can be brought indoors for the winter.
Planting a gardenia bush is best done in the fall or spring.
The gardenia plant prefers partial shade when grown outdoors, so keep this in mind when caring for your gardenia.
Soil that is acidic but well-drained and rich in organic matter is ideal for Gardenia.
Gardenias should be watered regularly, even when they are no longer producing flowers.
After the flowers have faded, prune the gardenia bush to remove any dead or diseased branches and to keep it looking its best.
Plants that are in good health have a better chance of surviving the winter and often come back stronger in the spring.
Indoor Gardenia Care
Gardenias can also be grown in containers and kept as houseplants in the home.
A gardenia bush grown indoors, on the other hand, needs bright light and high humidity.
Winter’s short, dry days will be the most difficult for the gardenia bush, especially if it doesn’t receive enough humidity.
During the winter, it’s a good idea to move plants to windows with southern exposure or use grow lights to help them get more light.
Indoor gardenia care necessitates a high level of humidity. The flowers will begin to fall from the plant as soon as the air is dry.
Humidity can be increased in the home by using a humidifier or by placing plants in trays of wet pebbles together.
It is not recommended to mist the gardenia plant, as this can cause fungal leaf spots.
Keep the soil moist, but don’t overwater it, because it needs to be loose and organic.
As soon as the top inch (2.5 cm) of soil begins to dry out, be sure to water it thoroughly.
Cooler nighttime temperatures and warmer daytime temperatures should be provided for the gardenia plant, as well.
When to Fertilize Gardenias
Gardenias should be fertilized on a regular basis in order to maintain a strong and healthy plant.
A fertilizer specifically formulated for acid-loving plants should be used every month between April and November of each year.
Gardenia plants should not be over-fertilized. Salts can build up in the shrub if too much fertilizer is used.
Gardenias should not be fertilized in the fall, as this can encourage new growth.
When exposed to the freezing temperatures of winter, this tender new growth will quickly die.
Gardenias should be pruned when they have finished blooming so that any straggly branches or spent blooms can be removed to your satisfaction.
This variety of Gardenia can be pruned every other year, however, and it’s fine with that.
It is important to shape back both the green and brown wood when pruning.
Both new and old wood can be used to cut gardenias, so it’s fine to do so.
Stem cutting propagation is the most efficient method for Gardenia propagation in the spring, but gardeners prefer to use pruning cuts.
Make sure you give the new plant enough time to establish roots and grow before winter dormancy, whichever method you decide to use.
Gardenia cuttings can be used to propagate the plant.
- a 3-inch pot, a plastic bag, a stake, and perlite-containing potting soil should be gathered.
- Take a 3- to 5-inch cutting just below a leaf node from a stem tip (preferably green wood). Keep only the top two sets of leaves after removing the lower set of leaves.
- Poke a hole in the middle of the soil in your pots with moist potting soil.
- Plant the stem in the hole after dipping the cut end in the rooting hormone. Fill in the gap.
- Put garden stakes in the ground and wrap plastic bags around the pots.
- The temperature in the room where you place your pots should be at least 75 degrees Fahrenheit. As long as the soil is moist, healthy roots will emerge (about four to eight weeks).
- Transplant the small gardenias into your yard as soon as the weather permits.
How to Grow Gardenia From Seed
In order to grow a new gardenia from seed, you need to be prepared to wait up to three years before the seedling begins to flower.
To do this, you’ll need to clean and dry the seeds from dried seed pods in a sunny window for three to four weeks.
When planting the seeds, cover them with about 1/8-inch of potting soil and allow the seeds to germinate.
Until the seeds sprout, keep them moist and out of direct sunlight (about four to six weeks).
Transplant the seedlings into peat-based potting soil when they reach a height of a few inches, and keep them in a well-lit area of the house until they reach maturity.
When the seedlings have at least three sets of leaves, transplant them to your garden.
Keep an eye on the young plants until they are able to stand on their own.
Potting and Repotting Gardenia
Gardenias, like rhododendrons, prefer a peat-based potting mix with a low pH when grown in containers.
The best time to repot gardenias is in the spring when they are beginning to come out of their winter slumber.
If your plant appears to be root-bound, it may be time to repot it (roots may be sticking out of the soil).
In the event that your plant appears to be dying but there are no pests or diseases, you can re-pot it.
Use a larger pot, such as one made of stone or terracotta, whenever possible. Moisture can be evaporated through the porous walls of both materials.
If the temperature drops below 15 degrees Fahrenheit, the gardenia will not survive.
This type of weather isn’t usually seen in USDA Zones 8 through 10, but you still want to make sure your plant is warm enough.
To accomplish this, surround the plant’s roots with a thick layer of mulch. A frost blanket can also be created on nights that are uncertain.
To make frost cloth, you can use anything from a cardboard box to a bedsheet to a 5-gallon bucket.
Common Pests & Plant Diseases
Insects, including scale, aphids, spider mites, mealybugs, and whiteflies, all contribute to the gardenia’s “high-maintenance” tag.
You can use horticultural oils and soaps, as well as organic products, to keep bugs at bay.
Regardless of which method you choose, be prepared for frequent infestations.
Powdery mildew, leaf spot, dieback, anthracnose, and sooty mould can also affect gardenias, but fungicides can treat some of these problems.
As a result, this plant is best suited for a gardener who relishes the challenge of creating the ideal conditions to ward off the majority of diseases.
How to Get Gardenia to Bloom
If you want your gardenia to produce its best flowers, you’ll need to pay attention to how it’s grown.
Healthy blooms begin with following the manufacturer’s instructions for fertilization and watering.
Wait until the last blooms have faded before pruning your plant. No new buds will form because of the way you did it.
For the last line of defense, make sure the humidity and water levels are just right to avoid “bud drop” (a condition known to affect this plant) (not too dry and not too moist).
Common Problems With Gardenia
Gardenias are susceptible to bud and leaf drops due to cold temperatures, inconsistent watering, poor soil drainage, and insufficient light.
Yellowing leaves can also be caused by unsuitable environmental conditions. Pests, fungus, and diseases thrive in an environment where plants are under stress.
Gardeners face the ultimate challenge of keeping this plant in the best possible condition.
Gardenias are beautiful, but unless you live in an area where they thrive, you may want to look elsewhere for a plant that is easier to care for.