Planting and Selecting Gardenias
Learn how to grow these beautiful and fragrant flowering shrubs.
For a beautiful classic to plant in your garden, look no further than gardenias. Their deeply scented blooms and goes-with-anything color scheme have made them popular with garden experts and novices alike for generations.
Choosing a Gardenia
The first step toward successfully growing gardenias is choosing the right type for your garden space, beginning with cold hardiness. Generally, gardenias are hardy in zones 8-10. However, there are a few varieties that thrive in zones 6 and 7 as well. If you are on the cusp of a colder zone, it is important to plant in a sheltered location that will not expose your gardenia to the full force of winter’s cold, dry winds.
There are several gardenia forms and flower-types to choose from, though all feature glossy green foliage and creamy to ivory white flowers. There are upright forms that grow to 7 feet tall or more, dwarf upright forms that reach 2.5-4 feet, and spreading forms that stay lower than 1.5 feet. The leaves may be broadly or narrowly lance shaped, or nearly oval. Flowers may be large “double” blooms that look like roses, or they may be simple daisy-type flowers with a few petals and yellow centers. With this much variety, any gardener could find space for at least one.
Some of the gardenias you may commonly find at garden centers or home improvement stores:
‘August Beauty’ is one of the most commonly found varieties. It grows to 6 feet tall, 4 feet wide and is hardy to zone 7. It features double blooms, heavily in early summer, then sporadically into fall. It makes a nice specimen plant or landscape focal.
‘Hardy Daisy’ also known as ‘Kleim’s Hardy’ is a dwarf upright plant reaching 3 feet tall and wide. Its flowers have 6 petals arranged like a daisy, with yellow stamens. Use this variety as a low hedge.
‘Radicans’ is also called creeping gardenia because of its sprawling habit. It typically grows less than 2 feet tall and 4 feet wide, and offers small double blooms throughout the growing season. 'Radicans' makes an effective ground cover, or border plant, or may be used as a low hedge.
Gardenias grow best in well drained soil and filtered sunlight. To minimize pest problems, allow for good air circulation (do not plant in corners, and use sparingly as a foundation plant). Maintain deep green foliage and abundant blooms by feeding gardenias twice per growing season with a balanced fertilizer for acid-loving plants that includes an iron supplement.
Gardenias are timeless beauties that have remained popular for many years. By giving them something close to their ideal growing conditions, gardenias will thrive in your landscape.