Hardiness Zone: 7a
Elaine from Charlottesville, VA
Gardenias are notoriously fussy. Creating the perfect conditions can be challenging, but it's worth the effort once those lovely blooms appear. Temperature, humidity and light are the three most critical factors in getting your gardenia to bloom. In order for it to produce buds, the plant needs cooler nighttime temperatures-preferably 60-65ºF and daytime temperatures not exceeding 70ºF. Keeping them in temperatures outside of this range can prevent them from flowering. This can be a bit tricky, especially in the summer. Gardenias require a fair amount of humidity, full sun and like soil that is kept consistently moist (but not wet). If you can, mist yours daily with a spray bottle. Gardenias also like their soil on the acidic side (pH between 5.0-6.0), so you might want to switch to an acidic fertilizer like those designed for azaleas or rhododendrons (used it half strength).
If you can create these conditions consistently throughout the growing season you should start to see some blooms.
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We live in Jalisco, Mexico and I was given a dying gardenia about 4 years ago.
We planted it in our flower garden and every 3 or 4 months, I put used coffee grounds that I save around the base of the plant. It is gorgeous. Blooms at least 3 times a year and I have gotten 4 other gardenias from this one and am going for 5 and 6 this spring.
For us, direct, all day sunshine and the coffee grounds are all we have had to do.
Bonnie Jene (10/22/2005)
I agree with the all day sunshine thought. Ours are taller then our chain link fence and get bigger every year. We are in the southern states so it gets really hot during the summer. Ours bloom around Mother's Day and keep blooming until around the end of May. I would go ahead and plant it and if you really want to smell the blooms, plant it under a window. That way when they are blooming all you have to do is open that window. (07/18/2006)
Gardenias should be planted in well conditioned soil containing peat moss and compost. Cultivating around the plants may damage their shallow roots, so the plant should be mulched with 2 to 3 inches of wood chips, sawdust, or ground bark to keep the soil moist, cool, and weed free. Feed the plants every three weeks during the growing season with a rhododendron-azalea food, or acidifying fertilizer. (Miracid)
Proper temperatures are necessary for a gardenia to bloom. This is the most critical aspect. Flower buds will fail to form if day temperatures are higher than 70 degrees or night temperatures are over 65 degrees or less than 60 degrees. The ideal temperature ranges would be 65 to 70 degrees during the day and 60 to 62 degrees at night.
Gardenias can be pruned as far back as you like, but you should keep a few important details in mind. First, cut plants back when they are dormant (depending upon where you live). This will allow the stems to "heal their wounds" when the plants aren't actively growing. This way you can still enjoy flowers the next year. When pruning, don't cut all the leaves off. Some leaves need to be left so the plant can still produce food for the root system.
The following spring, use an acidic fertilizer with chealeted iron and high nitrogen so the plant can produce healthy leaves and buds. If you only want your plant to become bushier, simply pinch out the tips while the plant is dormant. Pinching will usually promote a heavier bloom the following year.
If you are growing your gardenia as a potted plant indoors, keep it out of direct, hot sun, and allow it to only get bright light.
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