How to Care for Gardenias
Gardenias are known for their creamy white blooms and distinctive scent and are also prized for their bright evergreen leaves. They have a blooming lifespan from spring to fall, and you can use them as a stand-alone plant in a container or as a hedge. With its versatility, the gardenia would make a great addition to your garden.
Gardenias thrive outside in warm climates, such as USDA hardiness zones 7 through 10. If you live in a cooler climate, you could choose to plant in a pot and move them indoors during the harsh months.
Pay particular attention to the place where you plan to plant gardenias. You’ll need a place with full sun (or partial afternoon sun in hot climates) and adequate pH levels. Test soil if necessary to ensure pH is 5 to 6.5, otherwise your plant may not grow well.
How to Plant Outdoors
- Dig a hole that is just as deep and twice as wide as the root ball you’ll be planting. Gardenias thrive when planted high in the soil.
- Pack about three inches of the removed soil into the hole you just made, then place the root ball in the hole. Ideally the root ball should end up about 1 inch above the soil line; this helps with drainage.
- Tamp additional soil around the exposed root ball.
- Water the plant in thoroughly.
Apply mulch around the new plant to keep weeds at bay, and to ensure adequate moisture levels in the soil.
How to Plant in a Pot
- Select a well-draining pot slightly larger than the root ball of the gardenia you’ll be planting.
- Clean the pot with hot soapy water to ensure it is sterile.
- Inspect the root ball for root rot. Trim away dead, rotten or broken roots with sterilized shears.
- Add potting medium designed for acid-loving plants to the pot.
- Place the root ball on the soil, and work the soil into the roots for a good hold. Tamp down soil around the roots. Adjust soil amount in the pot until the plant is sitting high up on the soil line.
- Water the plant thoroughly, and add more soil if necessary if too much settling has occurred.
- Keep the plant in a place where it will receive bright daylight and stay in a temperature range between 70 to 75 degrees, and 60 degrees at night.
- Water the plant regularly so the soil is moist but not soggy. Avoid fluctuating water levels as it may stress the plant and cause it to drop buds.
- Fertilize regularly with a balanced 10-10-10 fertilizer March through August to encourage vigorous blooms.
- Prune the plant as needed to maintain the shape of the plant. Ensure you use sterilized shears
Gardenias won’t thrive in soils with a high pH because it prevents roots from absorbing needed minerals. Test soil, and add amendments as necessary to get the soil at 5 to 6.5 pH suggests HGTV. Keep soil pH at the proper levels by applying a slow-release fertilizer designed for acid-loving plants like the gardenia during the active growing season, April through November.
Plant gardenias in the fall or spring when temperatures are mild.
Gardenias grown indoors require bright light and high humidity.
Unlike other plants, the gardenia doesn’t require pruning. You may remove spent blooms, shape the plant, or help reduce the plant with sterilized shears.
Control weeds around your gardenias by hand-pulling weeds and applying 2 to 4 inches of mulch. Mulching not only limits the amount of weeds, but it helps keeps soil moist.
Monitor water levels, and ensure your plant gets at least one inch of water per week. Inconsistent watering may cause your plant to wither away and drop blooms. Gardenias consistently need at least 1 inch of water per week. Avoid dry spells, as it could lead to bud drop.
Inspect your gardenia for pests such as whiteflies and aphids. Whiteflies (which look like tiny white bugs) may appear from the undersides of leaves when the plant is brushed. Bright green Aphids will also congregate on the stems and undersides of leaves. Both insects may be removed by brushing the bugs off with a strong hose of water, a cotton swab dipped in alcohol, or insecticidal soap.