For Christmas, one of my aunts gave me a gardenia as a gift. I know absolutely nothing about gardenias, so I thought it would be a good idea to do some research before planting it in the garden. I also decided to write a blog post about this subject to help others who would like to grow this beautiful shrub but are unsure how.
Gardenias like tropical, warm weather but will tolerate a little bit of frost. Like hydrangeas, they are usually in full bloom by Christmas. The foliage is green, lush and glossy. Gardenias are highly fragrant, so make sure you place it near an entrance or in a patio to enjoy the scent. Gardenias make excellent cut flowers. They can also be used as a hedge.
There are many varieties of gardenias on the market. Some are compact, others grow tall and bushy. Compact varieties are suitable for growing in containers.
I have Gardenia Veitchii, which is a popular double-flowering variety. Because it is a more compact variety, I am going to try growing it in a container.
Another popular variety is Professor Pucci, which is a taller growing double-flowering variety which flowers from late spring.
Radicans is a low-growing gardenia that produces delightful and richly fragrant, white flowers from late spring.
Gardenias should be grown in full sun to light shade. Plant in rich, acidic free-draining soil. Mix in lots of compost and sheep pellets prior to planting. If planting gardenias in a container, make sure you use a specially formulated container mix.
Make sure you keep plants well watered, particularly over the warmer months when it doesn’t rain as often. Plants in containers need more water to survive.
Feed regularly with a slow release fertiliser. Do not use a granular bagged fertiliser on potted gardenias. Alternatively, you can use a water soluble fertiliser.
Gardenias should be pruned in winter or early spring to help retain their shape. Prune back to either a branch or a bud. Cuts should be made on a 45 degree angle away from the bud.
Troubleshooting (tips taken from this page)
One of the most common problems is yellow leaves. If this happens, give the plant some liquid fertiliser and a good dose of water. Most of the time, the problem resolves as the weather gets warmer but you can use Epsom salts on the plant if the problem persists.
Aphids can be a pest. If they appear underneath the leaves, you can spray the plant with an insecticide. You can also spray for mealybug and scale as well. If you notice that the buds are falling to the ground, this may be a sign of weevils or leaf hoppers, which can also be sprayed.
There are also a few diseases that affect gardenias. Root rot is common in gardenias with poorly drained soil. This can cause the plant to turn yellow. You can save the plant by digging it up and pruning away damaged roots and then re-plant it in a spot with better drainage. Powdery mildew can occur when air circulation is poor around the plant. It will cause a white, fuzzy or powdery coating on the leaves and affect new growth. A good prune to thin out the plant will help solve this.
Gardenias grow easily from cuttings. To improve the strike rate, dip the end in some rooting hormone before planting in a pot with some potting mixture.