Most flower gardeners are inspired to plant gardenias after enjoying the sweet smell of this popular cut flower. In nature, gardenia flowers grow on a fairly large evergreen shrub that can reach 6 feet tall. And although quite easy to plant in the right environmental conditions, gardenia shrubs take a considerable amount of attention to grow successfully. But if properly cared for, a gardenia bush can be a beautiful and fragrant addition to your yard. To give your gardenia the best start, plant it in fall or spring.
Select the right location to plant your gardenias. They grow best in full sun, but will tolerate light shade. Plant gardenia bushes away from other trees or large shrubs. Gardenia bushes do not like to have to compete for water or nutrients. Also avoid planting them near sidewalks or other concrete structures. The soil may be too alkaline to support your gardenias. But consider planting them in an area where you'll be able to enjoy their fragrance.
Test the soil in the area at your local county extension office. Gardenias need fertile soil with a pH that falls between 5 and 6.5 to thrive. Soil with poor nutrients can be amended, and neutral soil's pH can be lowered with sulfur. However, alkaline soils are really not suitable for gardenias. Gardenia bushes grown in alkaline soils will continually suffer from micronutrient deficiencies.
Dig a hole twice as large and just as deep as the container that your gardenia plant is currently growing in. Dig any neighboring holes at least 3 feet away from one another.
Amend the soil. Set aside 1/2 of the soil you just excavated and mix it with an equal amount of aged compost.
Carefully remove the plant from its container.
Place the gardenia bush in the hole so that it is slightly above the surrounding soil.
Fill the hole with water and allow it to drain.
Backfill the hole with the amended soil so that the root ball is covered with no more than 1 inch of soil.
Water your gardenia bush deeply, so that the soil is soaking. Do not allow the soil to dry out while your gardenia is establishing itself. After it produces new growth, your gardenia bushes will need 1 inch of water weekly.
Spread a 3-inch layer of organic mulch around the planting area (but leave a 3-inch berth around the stem). This will cut down on weeds and help keep the soil moist and cool.