Growing Gardenia

Latin Name Pronunciation: gar-deen'ya

Gardenias are prized for their attractive and richly fragrant white flowers, which are shown to advantage by glossy, deep green foliage.

LIGHT: 6–8 hours of direct sunlight such as can be provided by a south-facing windowsill.

WATERING: Gardenias enjoy potting mix that is slightly damp to the touch, but not soggy. If the potting mix gets either too dry or too soggy, the flower buds will drop off.

TEMPERATURE: Gardenias perform it best in a room that is warm by day and cool at night. Recommended daytime temperature: 70–85°F; nighttime: 60–65°F.

HUMIDITY: Gardenias are subtropical plants that appreciate high humidity. Don't place your plant close to a heat vent. The best way to increase the humidity around your plant is to run a humidifier in the same room. Shallow reservoirs covered with grids that allow moisture to rise to the plants above are also effective.

FERTILIZER: Fertilize Gardenias every 2–4 weeks during their growing season—March to October. Use a water-soluble fertilizer mixed at ½ the recommended strength; a fertilizer formulated for acid-loving plants is best. Do not fertilize November through February.

FLOWERING: The buds on your plant should open in 4–6 weeks. Avoid handling the blossoms; they bruise and turn brown easily when touched. Most flowers last 3–8 days. They open white and mature to creamy yellow. When the flowers start to brown, they should be removed to make room for new buds and flowers. Please note: Except in the Deep South and on the West Coast (Zones 8–10), Gardenias are best treated as a seasonal plant and discarded after bloom.