Plant Gardenias in 7 Simple Steps

Planting gardenias is a wonderful way to brighten up any outdoor area with their wonderful fragrance and beautiful white flowers. They also create a wonderful natural barrier in your yard or garden with their rich, dark green foliage. Gardenia leaves and flowers are also generally considered non-toxic to humans, making them a safer choice for households with small children. If you've been thinking of planting gardenias outdoors but are intimidated by their picky nature, follow these 7 steps to a successful planting:

  1. Gardenias are evergreens and it is best to plant them in the spring or fall. It is important to keep in mind that gardenias are tropical plants and they enjoy warmer weather, so if you live in an area that has a cooler climate, consider keeping these plants in a planter indoors or in a greenhouse.
  2. Select an area in your garden or yard that has full sun or light shade and well drained soil. The soil should have a good amount of organic matter added to it, such as peat moss, to ensure good soil drainage while still keeping the soil moist.
  3. The ideal soil for your gardenia is slightly acidic, you can test your soil acidity using testing kits available at most garden stores. If your soil does not fit this description you can remedy this by using acidic plant food, which can also be purchased at most garden and hardware stores.
  4. Dig a hole about 2 times the size of your gardenia's root ball and place your plant inside, mounding the soil around the plant and patting it down to ensure you eliminate any air pockets. If you are planting more than one gardenia plant, space them about 4 feet apart.
  5. After planting your gardenia, water it thoroughly, but keep in mind that they are sensitive to the amount of watering you do. Typically, gardenias require an inch of rain a week and they should not be left to sit in water as this can cause their roots to be waterlogged. Gardenias do best in humid areas, however, you should avoid artificially creating this type of environment by misting their leaves as this can cause fungus to grow. Instead, the best way to determine if it's time to water is to check the top inch of the soil, if it is dry it's time to water.
  6. As your gardenia grows, prune back any old branches. This will encourage the plant to produce more new growth and bloom more frequently.
  7. Feed your gardenia monthly with an acidic fertilizer to ensure it is receiving the proper nutrients it needs in order to grow.

Now all you need to do is sit back and enjoy this beautiful addition to your garden and its intoxicating fragrance as it lingers in the air.