How to Care for Gardenia Bushes


Gardenias, also known as cape jasmine, are evergreen shrubs with shiny, deep green leaves and ivory blooms. The gardenia's most notable feature is its strong, perfume-like fragrance. Gardenias range in height from 2 to 8 feet tall, depending upon the variety planted. They cannot tolerate cold temperatures and are hardy only in USDA zone 8 and above. In cooler climates it is necessary to grow the plants in containers and bring them indoors in the fall.

Step 1

Choose a growing container that has several drainage holes; gardenias will not do well if their roots remain too moist. The container should be large enough to keep the roots from being compacted.

Step 2

Fill the container within 1/2 inch of the rim with a combination of two parts potting soil and one part organic compost. Plant the gardenia bush at the same level it was growing when purchased.

Step 3

Water until moisture begins to drip through the drainage holes. Pour the excess water off immediately. Check the soil regularly and add moisture whenever it feels dry to the touch.

Step 4

Place the container in a location that receives full sun if growing the plant indoors. If putting the plant outside during warm months, it is best to select a location that receives only partial sun.

Step 5

Fertilize every three to four months with 15-5-10 fertilizer. Stop fertilizing in fall so the plant can prepare for dormancy.

Step 6

Prune off faded flowers and damaged stems and branches as you notice them. Pinch newly planted gardenia branches off to promote fuller growth. You can also prune to promote an attractive form.

Tips and Warnings

  • Avoid overwatering gardenia bushes; this can result in root rot.

Things You'll Need

  • Potting container
  • Potting soil
  • Organic compost
  • 15-5-10 fertilizer
  • Pruning shears


  • University of Rhode Island: Gardenia Care
  • University of Hawaii at Manoa Extension: Common Gardenia
  • University of California: Gardenia (Cape Jasmine)
  • Floridata: Gardenia Augusta
Keywords: gardenia bushes, gardenia bush care, grow gardenias, plant gardenias, care for gardenias, cape jasmine

About this Author

Annita Lawson has been working as a freelance writer since 2004. Her work has been published in various web and print outlets, including The Dabbling Mum, A Virtuous Woman, and Pediatrics for Parents. Lawson is pursuing an Associate of Arts degree at Southeast Kentucky Community College. She enjoys sharing all that she has learned about parenting, healthy eating and living a frugal lifestyle.