My dwarf gardenias are in shade most of the day, with a little late morning sun. The blooms cover the top of the plant and fill the air with sweet gardenia fragrance. After that first flush of bloom, they will give up a second set of blossoms, more loosely scattered on the bush than the first but fragrant, white, and crisp. Gardenia blossoms will yellow as they mature giving the shrubs a two-tone appearance.
Either look for dwarf gardenias (Gardenia jasminoides ‘Radicans’) to use as a houseplant or, in USDA Zones 6-11, you can leave them in the ground year-round. They grow about a foot high and about three feet wide. Even when dwarf gardenias are not in bloom, they are attractive with evergreen leaves, sometimes streaked with a bit of white variegation. When they are in bloom outdoors in late spring or early summer, their fragrance is breathtaking.
Plant dwarf gardenias 3 feet apart to make a low border. Give them half day sun, humus rich acidic soil, and just a little fertilizer during the growing season. Water them when the soil is dry. They love heat and humidity. You can use them outdoors in a pot on your patio or as a focal point. Plant them in a container high enough to let them gracefully spill out over the edge.
If you are in a zone where they are not hardy, move them in and out with the seasons. When you move them indoors, give them as much light as possible. Remember their loves: Heat and humidity. Keep them in a warm room and give them humidity with a spray bottle every day or set a dish of water next to the plant. As far as watering the plant itself, let the soil dry out down about an inch before you water. Do not let the pot set in a saucer of water.
Still, gardenias can be finicky and will often lose leaves that yellow when they winter indoors. Gardenias purchased from florists go through the most radical change since they were being grown in ideal greenhouse conditions before they arrived in your home. Give them tender care through the winter, and then move them outdoors to a filtered sun and shade site to recover outdoors.
Posted January 17, 2014
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