Gor­geous fra­grance

Gar­de­nias are easy to man­tain and suit nearly any type of gar­den

Isis Town and Country - - Life - with Ma­ree Cur­ran Got a gar­den­ing ques­tion? Email ma­ree@ede­nat­by­ron.com.au.

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.

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