You can get the best bloom from your gardenia flowers by proper plant care. Gardenia is not only prized for its sweet scented flowers but also used as a yellow dye in food and clothing by the Chinese and Japanese. The French traditionally wear Gardenias as boutonnieres.
Gardenias grown at home belong to the species Gardenia jasmenoides, also known as Gardenia florida and Gardenia grandiflora. This species is a native of Southern China and Japan, and hence needs special care to adapt and grow in weather conditions different from the warm and humid tropics.
When grown indoors, Gardenias can grow up to a maximum height of 18 inches. On the other hand, gardenias can easily achieve a height of 6 feet when grown outdoors! Gardenias do not require a lot of grooming. The following steps are useful for growing gardenias with healthy blooms.
Create a Gardenia-Friendly Environment
Gardenias bloom best in cool nights and warm days. They thrive in temperatures around 60ºF during nights and between 68 and 74ºF in the daytime. Gardenias should never be kept in areas below 50ºF. Since Gardenias are tropical plants, they should be kept in humidity trays when indoors. Humidifiers can also be used to prevent damage to the plant.
Gardenias grow best in peat-based soil. When the plant is young, repotting is required every spring. In mature plants, repotting is required only if the plant is very root bound.
Provide Adequate Sunlight and Nutrients
Gardenias require a lot of sunlight, especially during winters. However, Gardenias should not be receiving direct sunlight during summers as they may wither away.
Gardenias need to stay moist most of the time. It is best to water them with distilled water as they cannot stand the alkalinity of tap water. The water should be at room temperature. Gardenias should not be kept very moist when they are not in bloom. Moreover, Gardenia pots should never be placed in a saucer full of water for more than an hour.
Gardenias require a water-soluble fertilizer every two to three weeks. It is advisable to use an acid fertilizer once a year as Gardenias thrive in a mildly acid environment. This is necessary if the plant is not being watered using distilled water.
Identify the Factors that Affect Blooming
Healthy gardenias usually do not bloom as a result of insufficient humidity. However, it should be kept in mind that Gardenias bloom in and out of season. Gardenia buds can fall off if they recieve inadequate humidity and also due to the alkalinity of water used. The blooms can turn brown if sprayed with anything, including water. Even touching the flowers can discolor them.
Wilting of plant can occur on exposure to cold temperatures or even when the plant is too wet. Sometimes, the leaves turn yellow, while the veins remain green. This indicates the presence of excess lime in the water. The best cure is to use an acidic fertilizer that contains iron.
A leaf can turn completely yellow if there is insufficient light or fertilizer. Too much dryness in the soil or air can cause the healthy leaves to fall off. Gardenia leaves can turn very dark if exposed to temperatures below 50ºF.
Gardenias can get infested by mealybugs, aphids, whiteflies, and spider mites. A regular checkup of new growth and underneath the leaves can prevent such infestations.