Gardenia is an evergreen shrub also known as Cape Jasmine, and can grow from 2 to 10 feet tall and wide depending on the variety of plant. This heat-loving shrub thrives in daytime temperatures around 68 to 74 degrees Fahrenheit. with no less than 60 F at night. Its fragrant white flowers bloom from midspring into summer against a backdrop of dark, glossy green leaves, making this an eye-pleasing shrub for most landscapes, and when planted around a patio or underneath a window, its intoxicating scent can be enjoyed.
Select a location to plant your gardenia that receives full sun for at least six hours daily with some light shade. Gardenias like some shade on hot days but should not be grown in full shade where they will not thrive.
Prepare the soil in early spring or as soon as the ground is workable after the last frost. Do not plant your gardenia before all chance of frost has passed. Gardenias need acidic soil with a pH of 5.0 to 6.0 that is well-draining. Work in compost to meet these conditions for the soil.
Dig a hole as deep as the root ball and two to three times as wide. If planting more than one shrub, space them 3 to 6 feet apart.
Place the plant in the hole so the top of the root ball sits level with the ground surface. Fill in the hole halfway with soil, then water well to eliminate any air pockets. After the water has drained out, finish filling the hole with soil and tamp down firmly with your hands.
Water your gardenia well using a soaker hose or a garden hose, letting the water run at a trickle for about a half hour, three times weekly. The soil should be moist, but not soggy. Adapt your watering as needed to keep the soil moist and not let it dry out.
Fertilize once a month during the growing season, in the spring and again in late summer. Use an acidifying fertilizer, such as a rhododendron or azalea food, which will provide all the nutrients your gardenia needs.
Add a 2- to 4-inch layer of wood chips around the base of the plant, not letting it touch the main stem. This acts as a mulch to help retain moisture in the soil, reduce weeds and grass, and maintain a consistent soil temperature. In late fall, add another layer to help protect the roots from the wintertime cold temperatures. Reapply the wood chips each spring.