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How to Care for a Gardenia Tree

By Sarah Terry ; Updated September 21, 2017
Fragrant gardenia blossom
Gardenia flower image by Buonfiglio from Fotolia.com

Native to China, gardenia trees are heat-loving evergreens that bloom in showy white flowers. The flowers are highly fragrant, emitting a sweet fragrance when they bloom. Growing from 2 to 8 feet tall depending on the variety, gardenias grow best in mild climates with warmer winters, although they can survive frosts. Gardenia trees enjoy an average daytime temperature of 73 degrees F and can be rather temperamental. Gardenias are susceptible to several fungal diseases that can cause the plants to decline and not bloom.

Water the gardenia tree to thoroughly soak the soil around the roots once every two days throughout the summer months. Water the gardenia twice each week to keep the soil evenly moistened and prevent the base from drying out the rest of the year.

Spread a 2- to 3-inch layer of bark mulch on the ground around the base of the gardenia tree to increase humidity and retain soil moisture.

Feed the gardenia tree twice each year in early spring and again in summer with a slow-release fertilizer for acid-loving shrubs. Follow the dosage instructions on the fertilizer package.

Prune the gardenia tree once yearly right after it has finished blooming to remove any dead, damaged or crowded growth. Clip back about ¼ of the length of the stems if the gardenia starts to look leggy.


Things You Will Need

  • Garden hose
  • Bark mulch
  • Slow-release fertilizer for acid-loving shrubs
  • Pruning shears
  • Fungicides (optional)
  • Insecticides (optional)


  • Plant the gardenia tree in full to partial sunlight, but not in too much shade. In climates with hotter summers, select a location with some dappled shade and only partial sunlight exposure.
  • Gardenias like moist, rich and well-draining soils that are slightly acidic (soil pH of 5.0 to 6.0).
  • Mulching is optional, but if you do, water it only enough to keep the soil moistened.


  • Watch for common gardenia fungal diseases, such as leaf spot and sooty mold. Leaf spot causes discolored spots on the leaves and defoliation, and is best treated by spraying the gardenia's foliage with a fungicide. Sooty mold creates layers of black fungi on the leaves, which is caused by whiteflies that secrete a sticky substance called honeydew. The black sooty mold grows on the honeydew. Apply an appropriate insecticide to control the whiteflies, and spray the gardenia tree with a fungicide to get rid of the sooty mold.

About the Author


Sarah Terry brings over 10 years of experience writing novels, business-to-business newsletters and a plethora of how-to articles. Terry has written articles and publications for a wide range of markets and subject matters, including Medicine & Health, Eli Financial, Dartnell Publications and Eli Journals.