Gardenia plants are favorites in the southeastern United States, with shiny green leaves and showy white blossoms and a sweetly fragrant aroma. This ornamental shrub can stand alone as an evergreen sentinel at the corners of your house, or as part of a border along your property line. You can also grow gardenias indoors year-round.
Gardenia plants are shrubs or trees that can be used as hedges, borders, screens and houseplants. Gardenias are tropical, but some varieties, such as Cape Jasmine, are hardy in zones 8b through 11. Gardenia trees and shrubs may be shaped as a bonsai or they may grow to 8 feet tall. Plant your gardenias in full sun to partial or shifting shade in areas with high humidity for best results.
Gardenia flowers are 2 inches in diameter with a strong, fragrant aroma. They range from ivory to bright white and bloom from late spring to mid summer. The flowers will appear as solitary blossoms, or in small clusters all over the plant. Gardenia blossoms are perfect for cut flower arrangements or for floating in a bowl of water. The strongly scented fragrance from two or three flowers will fill a room.
The foliage on gardenia plants is smooth and glossy in shades of deep green. Gardenia foliage is evergreen in zones above 8b. The shrubs naturally grow in a rounded shape, with leaves covering the entire plant. Gardenia foliage works well in a cut flower arrangement; the leaves have such shine that they almost appear to be made from wax.
To plant a gardenia, dig a hole that's twice the size of the plant's root ball. When you place the plant in the hole, the root ball should be slightly above the level of the soil around it. Mix together a 50/50 blend of potting soil and the natural soil in your yard and use it to fill in the opening around your gardenia plant. You'll need to mound the soil mixture away from the plant so water will drain away from the trunk. Water the freshly planted gardenia with a root stimulator.
Caring for Gardenias
Gardenias love moisture and prefer a highly humid environment. Water your gardenia plants once each week, but make sure that the soil drains well. Surround the trunk with 3 to 4 inches of mulch to help it retain moisture. Fertilize the plants once each month during the blooming season with an acid-based fertilizer. Prune your gardenia plants in early spring, before the flowers begin to bud. During the blooming season, remove the dead flower blossoms to encourage your gardenia to bloom again.