Gardenias are a beautiful and fragrant plant for your home or garden. Delicate blossoms and a deep, sultry scent make these an attractive flower for many gardeners. Gardenia care takes some effort, as the plant is quite finicky about temperature, moisture and soil requirements. With a little care, you can have beautiful gardenias each year, but they may be too needy for the novice or distracted gardener.
Gardenias should be planted in fall or spring, and need consistent temperatures of between 65-70 degrees F (18-20 C) year round. Freezing temperatures will quickly kill a gardenia, so be prepared to move it inside if a cold spell hits. You should plant in nearly full sun, although a little shade may be best if you live in an area with hot summers.
Although gardenias love plenty of sunshine, they need to maintain a constant level of moisture in order to flourish. Using soils that retain moisture, such as peat moss or manure, can really help keep your plants healthy. Until your gardenia has taken root in the garden, water it once a day and check soil often to make sure it is damp. After the plant has become accustomed to its surroundings and really settled in, you can decrease watering to every other day or once every three days.
Some experts believe that maintaining the correct acidic balance in the soil will help gardenias flourish. Using litmus paper, measure the pH content in the earth you plan to use for your plants. Ideally, gardenias should be planted in soil with a pH level of 5.5-6, and can be adjusted to match that level with acidic or alkaline mixtures. Check local nurseries or home supply stores to find a proper mixture of soil to balance the natural pH levels.
Gardenias need plenty of food, so regular fertilization is a must for these lush flowering plants. During their blooming season, typically late spring, be sure to fertilize at least once a month. Some experts recommend using an acid based fertilizer, but this will depend on the natural acidity of the soil surrounding your plants.
A healthy gardenia bush can grow up to 8 ft high, and will provide you with beautiful white blossoms throughout spring and summer. Their fragrance is heady, similar to jasmine, and can fill your whole garden and home with delicious aromas. Gardenias are excellent for tropical or southern themed gardens, as they prefer heat and humidity and will do well with similar plants. With care and attention, these pure white blooms can become the star of your garden in no time.