Gardenia jasminoidesFew plants offer the delicious fragrance of a gardenia when it blooms. It doesn’t take many flowers to fill a whole room with the sweet scent so one small plant can change the whole ambience of a large area. Originally from China, this evergreen shrub has and waxy, white to cream colored flowers and, shiny, leathery, dark green leaves. The flowers are produced from late winter to early spring but the foliage remains attractive all year long. All that beauty, however, comes with a price; gardenias are not easy to grow indoors. They are finicky and will drop their leaves or flower buds if not provided with the right temperature, water, and light. They especially dislikes hard water. Gardenias are suitable for informal upright, slanting, semi-cascade, cascade, root-over-rock, twin-trunk, clump, and multiple-trunk styles, and in all sizes.

Position: Plants can be grown indoors all year as long as they have a bright location, but not full sun. They can be put outside in the summer in a partially shaded place. Optimal temperatures are between 59o and 64o F. and during the winter should not fall below 53o F. Gardenias like humidity so keep away from dry air and heat sources in winter and grow on a pebble tray.

Water: Gardenias do not tolerate lime so use soft water, or mineral water. Soil should be kept uniformly moist so plants will need less water in the winter when temperatures are lower. If leaves and/or flowers fall off, the soil is probably too wet.

Fertilizer: Feed with an acid-formula liquid fertilizer every two weeks from spring to fall.

Repotting: Repot every two years in the spring after flowering, root pruning at the same time.

Soil: Use a bonsai soil or a mix of loam, peat moss, and sand mix at a ratio of 1:3:2

Pruning: In spring, after the plant has finished blooming, cut back new growth. If flowers are desired for the next year, let the plant shoots grow, otherwise cut back the shoots to two to three leaf pairs when shoots have six pairs of leaves.

Wiring: In spring after the plant has bloomed, branches may be wired, taking care that wires are removed before they damage the branches. Wiring is best begun when the plants are young.

Propagation: Cuttings in mid to late summer, layering, air layering

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By Karen