Growing gardenias in pots require some care and attention but they worth that as gardenias are famous for their heady fragrance and beautiful appearance.
Growing gardenias in pots is possible, especially if you’re short of space or live in cool temperate climate. Gardenia grows fairly easy in USDA Zones 8 to 11, below these zones, you’ll need to grow it either as a houseplant or keep it indoors in winter.
USDA Zones— 8 – 11, *can be grown in lower zones with care in winter
Difficulty— Moderate to Hard
Other Names— Gardenia jasminoides, cape jasmine, danh-danh, gandhraj, jasmine rose, rose jasmine
Gardenia is a subtropical shrub originated in Asia. Its large white rose like blooms are one of the most fragrant flowers and together with its feathery green foliage, the gardenia plant looks magnificent.
Requirements for Growing Gardenias in Pots
Choose a location that is warm, bright and sunny. One thing you need to care for when picking a spot for your gardenia shrub is that it needs good air circulation around it.
Maintain the air flow around it, also, be careful that you don’t place it in a location from where water will spill over its foliage every now and then as water droplets can lead a fungal growth on leaves
For growing gardenias in pots, choose quality potting soil that is light, well-drained and rich in organic matter. You can also use gritty mix soil for it. Clay-rich, water retaining soil must be avoided.
Soil must be acidic and pH level around 4.8 – 6 is ideal.
Water the plant deeply but only when the top one inch surface of the soil dries out. To check this, poke your index finger into the soil. In any case, avoid overwatering to prevent root rot.
Ideal humidity level is around 70%. When watering avoid misting or wetting the foliage to increase the humidity as this may cause fungal infection. Instead, place your potted gardenia on a pebble filled tray that is filled with water to increase the humidity level and moisture.
Temperature around 70 F (20 C) is optimum for gardenias, at this temperature flower buds are formed. Fluctuation in temperature damages the flower buds or they may take more time to bloom.
Temperature around 60 F – 85 F (15 C – 30 C) is ideal for its growth. Below 20 F (- 7 C) the plant faces substantial damage. Also, exposure to harsh afternoon sun in tropics, especially in summer can burn the leaves.
Also Read: How to Make a Small Fragrant Garden
Gardenia Plant Care
Repot your gardenia plant in every 2-3 years in late winter or early spring. While repotting, you don’t need to prune the roots as they are fine and shallow and pruning them can cause root damage.
Generally, for gardenia, acidic fertilizers are used. You can find special fertilizer for gardenia in any garden store or online. You can also fertilize it with azalea fertilizer.
Application of Epsom salt once in a month during the growing season is also essential for the proper growth of gardenia.
Acidic soil is the key to growing gardenias successfully. If your soil is not acidic, add sulfur to change the pH level.
Also Read: How to change your soil pH
When the flowering period is over, prune your shrub slightly to maintain its beautiful compact design. Remove all the dead, damaged or entangled branches that are crossing each other and thwarting the penetration of sun rays and air flow.
Remove spent flowers as soon as they wilt and fade. This will promote the emergence of new blooms.
Some gardenia varieties can tolerate temperatures down to 20 – 15 F (-6 to -10 C) but below this temperature it is hard to save this beautiful flowering shrub. So, if you’re growing gardenia in a pot in the cooler climate it is better to keep the plant indoors near a South facing window during winter and provide it warmth and temperature above 50 F (10 C).
Pests and Diseases
To prevent diseases avoid overhead watering and excessive watering. The main pests that attack it are aphids, mealybugs, and spider mites.
A Few Additional Tips
- Don’t change the location of your gardenia again and again too often.
- A slightly root bound gardenia plant will bloom more prolifically.
- Used coffee grounds or tea can be a good feed for your gardenia.
- Proper ventilation is important.