Gardenias are the quintessential southern shrub, gracing yards with their creamy white flowers and glossy leaves. Gardenias also provide gardeners with one of the most easily recognized and treasured fragrances available. Grow enough gardenias as houseplants or in the garden to provide cut flowers or materials for a corsage.
Difficulty: Moderately Easy
- Acidifying fertilizer
- Peat moss
- Pine needles
- Pine nugget mulch
- Yellow sticky traps
Choose gardenia varieties that meet your height and space requirements. Mystery is a well-known variety that grows 6 to 8 feet tall. Radicans is a low-growing ground cover that reaches 1 foot in height with a spread of 3 feet.
Plant your gardenias in an area that gets full sun in the morning or filtered light all day. Overheating causes flower buds to drop off before they can bloom. Nighttime temperatures must be between 50 and 55 degrees for new flower buds to form.
Provide rich soil with a high acid content. Increase the acidity of the soil by fertilizing with an acidifying fertilizer, by amending the soil with peat moss and by using acidic mulch like pine needles or pine bark nuggets.
Increase the humidity gardenias love by misting the plant early in the day. Keep the soil moist, but not wet to avoid root rot.
Grow a hedge of gardenias close to the house to enjoy its fragrance indoors. If you wish to cut some blooms for indoor display, float them in a bowl of water, as the fragile stems do not take up water well.
Protect gardenias from the cold in northern climates by growing them in a sunroom or south-facing window. Gardenias do not survive winter in areas where temperatures drop below 15 degrees, but they grow well in pots in indoor areas with bright light and high humidity.
Watch for sooty mold growth on the leaves, an indication of whitefly infestation. Set out yellow sticky traps if your gardenias suffer from whiteflies.