How to Grow the Beautiful Gardenia
The graceful, old-fashioned good looks and the delicious smell of Gardenia make it a long-standing favourite for growing as an indoor plant, although in milder areas they are at home in the shrub border.
Gardenia seems to have everything. The flowers are in subtle shades of cream, white and yellow, yet have showy, double petals and an intoxicating scent. The leaves are dark green and extremely glossy, and make Gardenia an attractive plant to have even when it is not flowering. Unfortunately, however, Gardenia is not necessarily an easy indoor plant to grow. While it is fairly easy to keep alive, the eagerly anticipated flower buds have a tendency to fall off if conditions are not perfect. They will need a good source of indirect light and an even temperature to open fully. Ensuring that the plant does not dry out during the growing season will also contribute to a good show of flowers.
Getting a crop of flowers during the plant’s second year can be tricky. You will need to ensure good, even, night-time temperatures of between 16°C (61°F) and18°C (64°F) and try to keep the daytime temperature between 21°C (70°F) and 23°C (73°F) while buds are forming in spring.
Plants grown in hard water areas can suffer and they will show distress by their glossy, dark leaves turning yellow. To avoid this, try to water with soft water as often as possible. Collect fresh rain water in a bowl and use immediately or as soon as you have collected enough. Gardenias can also suffer from being watered with cold water. When using tap water, fill up a watering can and leave it sitting for a few hours until it is at room temperature.
Gardenias in the wild are fairly large plants, and if they live for several years they will outgrow most home environments. It is easy to keep them at a manageable size. Prune only once a year, and the best time to do this is during the latter part of winter, just before the new growth starts. Prune back to about four leaf joints above the base of the plant and cut just above where the leaf joins the stem.