Nothing adds beautiful fragrance to the garden like a blooming gardenia. And Georgia, with its warm, humid climate, is a great place to grow them. Gardenias require minimal pruning, but an occasional shaping can contribute to the shrub's overall appearance and will help your gardenia look good year after year.
Wait until your shrub has finished blooming for the season. In most areas of Georgia, this will be late May or early June. Pruning at this time will allow the new growth that sprouts after pruning to mature enough to survive the first frost. This schedule also encourages maximum blooms in the following season.
Stand back from your plant to assess how its overall shape might be enhanced, and how well its current size works in the landscape. Resist the urge to overprune. Most broad-leafed evergreen shrubs require very little pruning, and some gardenia growers limit pruning to once every few years.
Using hand-held pruning shears, make the selective cuts necessary to scale back the size of your gardenia or refine its shape. Make sure your shears are sharp, and make clean cuts at a 45-degree angle. The best place on a branch to make a cut is just above another sturdy shoot.
If your gardenia has been neglected or is overgrown, it may be necessary to prune more aggressively. Use long-handled loppers to thin out selected large branches, if needed.