Gardenias are easy to mantain and suit nearly any type of garden
G ARDENIAS are one of the most versatile and desirable of all shrubs. They look perfectly at home in just about any garden style, be it formal, tropical, cottage, or just about anything else. Gardenias are native to eastern Asia. They are beautiful, low-maintenance shrubs with lush, glossy green leaves and many large, creamy white flowers starting in spring and continuing intermittently throughout the warmer weather. The fragrance is utterly gorgeous.
There are several different varieties available. The Florida variety is one of the best, growing to about 1 to 1.2m with masses of flowers. It makes a great hedge. Aimee Yoshiba grows to a similar size. Magnifica has larger leaves and flowers than Florida, and grows to 1.5 to 2m. Professor Pucci has a slightly different flower shape and grows to about 1.2m. Radicans is a prostrate groundcover with smaller leaves and flowers than the taller varieties. True Love is a fairly recent arrival on the gardenia scene. It grows to about the same size as Florida, but has larger flowers and is said to be more resistant to pests and diseases than the other varieties.
Gardenias grow best in a well-drained, slightly acidic soil, with plenty of organic matter in a sunny or partly shaded position. Keep the plants well mulched, fed and watered to produce lush green foliage and plenty of flowers. Most gardenias are frost-tender.
In general, gardenias prefer either morning sun and afternoon shade or bright dappled sunlight all day. If the position is too hot, the leaves will yellow rapidly and the flowers will burn. In too little sun, they will be leggy and fail to flower.
Gardenias are easy to care for, but they are prone to serious scale or mealybug infestations if the growing conditions are not ideal. You may see small cream or brown lumps on the stems or leaves, but you might not notice until the whole plant becomes covered in the black, sooty mould that grows in the honeydew that the scale insects produce. So if you see sooty mould or ants (they feed on the honeydew) around your gardenias, you almost certainly have scale or mealybug. The good news is that these pests are easy to control using Eco-Oil.
Gardenias grow really well in containers, so long as you make sure they don’t dry out. Use a premium potting mix, preferably one for azaleas, camellias and gardenias. Position the pot so it is not in the hot afternoon sun during summer.
Prune gardenias after flowering to keep them nice and bushy and to produce more flowers next year. Cut some of the flowers and bring them indoors to enjoy that fabulous fragrance.