Growing GardeniasSultry as a summer evening and as intoxicating as an exotic perfume, the scent of gardenias is unforgettable. The blossoms are just as enticing, unfurling into velvety flowers in early evening's warmth and humidity. Tips to make sure your gardenias look (and smell) their best:
Pick the Perfect PlantAbundant selection makes it easy to find the right gardenia for your garden. Gardenias (Gardenia jasminoides) vary in height, leaf and flower size, bloom periods, and cold hardiness. Most have double flowers, though beautiful single forms do exist. 'Mystery', shown at left, is the largest variety. It grows upright, benefits from pruning, and can act as a hedge. 'August Beauty' and 'Veitchii' have long bloom periods, making them worthwhile additions to any garden.
Caring For Your GardeniasThe right sun, soil, and seeding will ensure that your gardenias reach their full potential. Ideally, plant gardenias where they will get morning sun and afternoon shade. Good air circulation is a must. Gardenias also prefer moist, acid soil that has good drainage and lots of organic matter, such as peat. When planting, set the root-ball about one inch higher than the surrounding soil for adequate drainage. Then, gently taper the soil up to the top of the exposed root-ball. Mulch plants with pine straw or chopped leaves.
Pests can be a problem if left untreated. Gardenias primarily appeal to whiteflies, scales, and mealybugs. Control outbreaks by applying a light horticultural oil, such as Sunspray Ultra-Fine. If left untreated, severe infestations of these sucking insects can lead to a sooty mold buildup. This black mold does not really harm the plant, but it does slow down photosynthesis.