Gardenias are evergreen perennial plants that produce some of the most aromatic flowers imaginable. Sometimes called cape jasmines, gardenias are subtropical, heat-loving plants that are originally from areas in the eastern hemisphere including Japan, Taiwan and China. Gardenias grow between 2 and 8 feet tall and have creamy-white flowers that reach approximately 4 inches in diameter. The best time for planting gardenias is in spring or fall, as suggested by website Desert Tropicals.
Choose an area for planting the gardenias that will give them full sun to partial shade. The ideal location is near a patio or deck where their fragrance can be thoroughly enjoyed. Avoid planting gardenias anywhere near concrete driveways or walkways. The lime in concrete can raise the soil pH to an unsuitable level.
Amend the soil in the planting site to improve drainage and fertility. Lay out over the topsoil a 2- to 3-inch layer of ground bark or compost. Broadcast over the soil between 1/4 and 1/2 cup of an acid-loving soluble plant food such as 6-4-4. Thoroughly work the fertilizer and ground bark or compost into the soil to a depth of 8 to 10 inches using a spade or garden fork.
Dig planting holes for each of the gardenias that are three times the width of the planting pots and approximately the same depth. The distance from each hole should be approximately 3 to 6 feet, depending on the variety you are planting.
Remove each of the gardenias from their planting pots by cutting along the sides of the pots up to the rim using a pair of all-purpose snips. You can also tip a pot upside down and tap upward along the rim to slide the pot off the root system.
Place a gardenia into one of the planting holes. The gardenia needs to be planted so the top of its root system is sitting at, or slightly above (about 1 inch), the surrounding topsoil. Scoop some soil into the planting hole to set the gardenia in place. Pour approximately 1 gallon of water into the hole and let it settle back before proceeding. Fill the hole entirely full with soil, packing it down gently as you go.
Water each of the gardenias with 1 to 2 gallons of water. Three weeks after planting, begin a monthly fertilizer regimen, but do not fertilize gardenias in the fall. Use fertilizer for acid-loving plants, fish emulsion or blood meal. Read the manufacturer's directions so you will know the precise amount to use.