A Complete Guide to Gardenia Care
Gardenia care is harder than care for many other flowers. That’s because gardenias need warm temperatures and sometimes a bit of extra encouragement to flower. You can grow gardenias inside or outside so if you live in a cold climate, you can always try growing gardenias in a plant pot indoors.
A gardenia is actually considered to be a shrub, an evergreen, and it has very dark green, glossy leaves. The flowers can be very pale white or yellow. Gardenias planted outdoors can grow to be as much as six feet high. They like to have partial shade and if you test your soil, aim for a pH of between 4.5 and 5.5. It should not get colder at night than 60 degrees or your gardenia is going to be very unhappy. Daytime temperatures should be higher than 70 degrees.
Gardenia care is important as it will likely be the determining factor as to whether the bush flowers well or not. If you cannot meet the gardenia temperature requirements, plant an inside gardenia instead. Gardenias like the air to be very humid. When nature doesn’t come through, you should mist around the plant with a sprayer. Be careful not to get too much water on the leaves or it can cause spots which could lead to disease. An indoor gardenia plant should sit on a dish of small pebbles covered with water.
While an outdoor gardenia needs some shade during the hottest part of the day, an inside plant should have a lot of light but not necessarily too much direct sunlight either. Warm days with cooler nights are the pattern that must be established with gardenia care to promote flowering.
Gardenia care also means fertilizing your gardenia plants a lot. This is one plant that probably will not flower if you do not apply a good amount of fertilizer throughout the growing season. A water-based fertilizer is good for applications every two weeks, but you should also use an acid-based fertilizer at least once every three months.
People are not the only lovers of gardenias. Many different insects like to eat them so it is critical to keep your plants very healthy. The best insect protection for plants is that they are healthy and thriving plants. Insects will leave a healthy plant alone and attack a weaker one. Gardenias can attract aphids, spider mites, mealy bugs, whiteflies, scales, and thrips. Depending on your preferences, you can apply either organic remedies or manufactured chemicals to get rid of these pests. You can also ask your local county agricultural extension agent for common pests and diseases in your area and recommended treatment plans.
Gardenia care is going to mean tackling some diseases at one point or another as well as there are several types of diseases that will frequently attack gardenias. One of the most common gardenia diseases is the canker fungus. Signs of canker are a swollen stem down around the base of the plant with numerous cracks up and down the stem in the area of the canker. Up above the affected area, the stem will turn yellow and the plant will die. This disease will spread so be sure to remove all dead plants from the area and do not plant new plants in the same spots.
Other fungi are Leaf Spot, Rhizoctonia Leaf Spot, and Sooty Mold. Leaf Spot shows itself as several sizes of brown spots with a yellow circle or halo around each one. It can be controlled with a fungicide. Rhizoctonia Leaf Spot has tan-colored spots that are a quarter of an inch in diameter or smaller. This disease is spread by over-watering. It is so contagious that all plants must be destroyed and soil sterilized. Sooty Mold is black, as you might expect, and is caused by whiteflies.
One of the most disheartening occurrences in gardenia care is bud drop. Just as you are getting excited in expectation of flowers, the buds die just before the flowers bloom. This can be caused by both over-watering and under-watering, too-cool temperatures, cold drafts or temperatures which have been fluctuating up and down.