The Gardenia: Care and Varieties
Gardenias are fragrant bushes that are almost too beautiful to be real. Their glossy leaves and perfect, aromatic flowers make them a shining example of a southern shrub. This outstanding beauty isn't too good to be true though! A Gardenia is easy to care for and even pest and disease resistant.
Spring and fall are ideal times to plant a Gardenia. However, if you avoid freezing and extremely hot temperatures you can plant any time of the year. Plant Gardenias in growing zones 7 to 10. Cooler areas can enjoy these southern plants by growing in containers and treating as a patio plant, by moving inside in the winter. Gardenias prefer full to part sun and moist, well-drained, fertile, acidic soil. If you have alkaline soil, be sure to amend your soil. To acidify your soil amend with compost, elemental sulfur, or use fertilizers specific for acid loving plants. Mulching with pine straw or pine bark will help over time as they begin to break down, but are not an immediate solution. Keep soil moist, but not saturated, especially in summer and in the first year after planting. After the first year, it is best to allow the soil to begin to dry out in between waterings. In very dry and hot environments, misting your gardenia's leaves daily or every other day will keep your plant happy. Mulching at about 2 inches deep is highly recommended for gardenias. Mulching will cut back on watering needs and protect your plant in extreme temperatures.
Choose a slow release fertilizer for acid loving plants. Fertilize once in spring after the last chance of frost and 6 weeks later for best results. You don’t need to prune gardenias, but pruning after they are done blooming can help encourage a bushier growth and renew an older plant. Remove dead or crowded branches any time. Avoid heavy pruning or pruning for shape anytime from fall until bloom as buds form in fall. Gardenias are pest and disease resistant as well as deer tolerant so they don't often encounter issues.
You truly won’t find a more beautiful hedge than one composed of August Beauty Gardenias. Glossy, perfect looking leaves catch your eye while large, lush, white blooms catch your eyes and nose. These gardenias are also lovely for mass plantings. Their blooms last up to 3 months!
Worried about freezing temps damaging buds and reducing or eliminating flowers? Then the Frost Proof Gardenia is perfect for you. Frost won't harm flower buds! This hardy variety is also versatile in the landscape. It is beautiful as a hedge, a mass planting, or a focal point.
The compact Jubilation™ Gardenia is perfect for containers, or small hedges. The mature size of this evergreen shrub is a mere 2-3 feet wide and tall. The flowers bloom all summer. The Jubilation™ is low maintenance and will beautify any yard from the smallest to the largest.
The Kleim's Hardy Gardenia is the hardiest Gardenia you can find. And with lovely pinwheel shaped, aromatic flowers and a mounding shape that only reaches 2-3 feet high and wide you really can't go wrong. This variety looks fabulous in plant beds. Plant near an entryway where the floral aroma can be readily often.