How to Grow and Care for Gardenia

Gardenias are colourful, fragrant beauties that are easy to grow. You can grow a gardenia indoors on a sunny windowsill or outside in a protected spot where it can see plenty of sunlight and water. Gardenias require little maintenance, but be sure to trim their long, thick leaves and divide them into new plants every few years. If you love their fragrance, choose to plant two plants for double the fragrance.

Use quality compost

This is important for any plant, but gardenia are especially nutrient hungry, so it’s important to set them off on the right foot. Use a compost that’s peat-free and ensure that any added nutrients are bio-available. Some added nutrients in commercial compost is hard for plants to use, so your gardenia may end up yellowing as it struggles to take it up.

Keep the soil moist

Keeping the soil moist is one of the most important steps in the care and maintenance of gardenia. Gardenia plants are very delicate plants, so in order to keep these plants looking their best, they need moisture. Allowing the soil to stay too dry or too damp can cause serious damage to the root system as well as pose a pest problem.

Create humidity for an indoor plant

Gardenias are relatively easy to care for indoors. Most require average humidity to thrive. You may occasionally place the plant in a tray filled with water or mist it. Place the tray in a location where the humidity level will remain relatively constant. Some plants require bright, indirect light, while others tolerate brighter light, but too much sun may reduce the humidity levels too much.

Fertilise every three to four weeks 

Gardenias are a hungry plant. They like warm temperatures, lots of sun, and plenty of water. Gardenias also need regular fertilisation, but because the flowers are sensitive, you shouldn’t fertilise the section where the flowers will be. In the garden, gardenias prefer to be planted in the ground where they can receive nutrients, but they also work well in pots if the nutrients are replaced regularly. 

Clip faded flowers

As with many plants in the coffee family, gardenia benefit from regular deadheading. To sustain beautiful blooms during the flowering season, deadheading helps to encourage new growth. Not only this, but faded flowers can become messy as they accumulate on the ground, so it’s best to cut them off when you notice them. 

Look for whiteflies and mealybugs and remove them

Whiteflies and mealybugs are two of the pests that you can sometimes see on your plants. They are small bugs and usually feed on your plants’ leaves and stems. They only cause problems when their numbers get out of control, but if left unchecked, they can damage plants with their offspring. Whitefly and mealybug infestations are common among houseplants and garden plants alike, but they mainly attack tender, young leaves, which they leave covered in white cotton-like husks, so keep an eye out in spring when new shoots are growing.

Protect the plant during cold snaps

Protecting the plant during cold snaps will ensure your gardenia stay looking their best. Cold temperatures can cause damage, so plants with winter hardiness zones 8 through to 10 need protection from freezing temperatures. Coldness can kill gardenia leaves and result in irregular growth. The gardenia plant grows best in warm, tropical climates, so in the autumn and winter, the plant is best brought inside.

Gardeners love plants, and rightfully so, but while some plants have a reputation for easy care, others require a little more work. Gardenia is one of those plants; it’s not that hard to grow, but it’s a bit more challenging than, say, a rosemary shrub. However, learning how to grow gardenia won’t just help the overall health of your plant – it will add to the aesthetics of your outdoor space. 

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