By: Bonnie L. Grant, Certified Urban Agriculturist
Few scents can outdo that of a dwarf gardenia. Dwarf gardenias,like their regular sized siblings, are evergreen shrubs with ethereal creamy,white flowers. They need full to partial sun for best bloom in rich, well-drainingsoil. Miniature gardenia plants are a bit fussy about their care, especiallywhen young. Learn how to grow dwarf gardenia and you will soon be enjoyingtheir intoxicating fragrance.
Miniature gardenia plants have the same care and siterequirements of the larger varieties. Gardeniasare native to tropical and sub-tropical regions, and as such have little frosttolerance and perform best in hot weather. Following expert tips on growingdwarf gardenias can help avoid common mistakes that can compromise plant healthor blooming.
Good gardenia care starts with proper installation and site.These shrubs prefer acidic soil with a pH between 5.0 and 6.0. The soil shouldbe amended with plenty of organic items and checked for drainage. If drainageis minimal, incorporate some gritty matter to the soil. Gardenias like moistsoil but it should not be boggy.
When planting, make sure the hole is wide and deep enough tospread the root system out. Fill in around roots carefully and waterimmediately to settle soil. Gardenias need one inch (2.5 cm.) of water weekly.
Gardenias need temperatures of 65 to 70 Fahrenheit (18 to 21C.) during the day to produce flowers and night temperatures of 60 to 65 F. (15to 18 C.). For this reason, many gardeners choose to growgardenias in pots.
Provided the soil mixture has rich loam and some peat mossmixed, it will be nutrient rich, acidic and well-draining enough for the plant.Place containers on casters so you can easily move them in and out with theseasons.
Containerized plants will need fertilizing in spring every twoweeks but suspend feeding by the end of summer. They will also require morewater than in-ground plants but keep them slightly drier in winter.
Place containers where the light is bright but indirect andthere are no drafts. Provide humidity by misting daily or placing a dish ofwater near the plant.
A nice organic mulch spread around the root zone willprevent weeds and help keep roots cool and soil moist.
Prunespent blooms as they occur to promote continuous flowering. Takeflowers off just below the leaf node. Prunethe plant during the dormant season to keep the gardenia in a tidyhabit. Remove any crowded or crossed stems at this time to increase aircirculation and light to the center of the plant. This will discourage fungaldiseases and encourage blooming.
Feed in-ground plants with an acidic fertilizer after bloomor use a granular time release formula at the beginning of the season.
Once established, dwarf gardenia care is minimal and theshrubs will faithfully produce those heavenly scented flowers year after year.
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Gardenias will do best in well-drained, rich soil, so consider amending your chosen planting site with compost or peat moss. Soil pH is important for gardenias, and should be between 5.0 and 6.5. Where soil pH is above 7.0 (usually due to naturally occurring limestone or sea shells), consider an alternative plant or try growing your gardenia in a container. Have your soil tested at your local county Extension office.
Plant your gardenia in full sun or partial shade, with enough space for good air circulation—this helps with pest prevention and allows for the flowers' scent to spread. Plant near a walkway, entry, or patio so you'll have the opportunity to enjoy its fragrance.
For ideal flower production, water your gardenia regularly and fertilizer two or three times a year. One application is normally scheduled around February (South Florida) or March (North Florida) and another in September (North Florida) or October (South Florida). A third fertilizer application may be made during the summer.
Pruning should only be done after the shrub has stopped flowering, and before October. Pruning after then will hurt the next season's flower production.
The most common problem encountered with growing gardenias is pests. Mealybugs, aphids, scales and whiteflies are all problematic on gardenias. Try using insecticidal soaps or horticultural oils these can usually keep pests in check when used properly. Root-knot nematodes can also be a problem, but there are currently no chemical treatments available. There are special, grafted gardenias resistant to root-knot nematodes available for Central and South Florida, but they are too cold-tender for North Florida.
A low spreading dwarf variety with petite, fragrant white flowers contrasted by deep green glossy foliage excellent in low borders or as a groundcover great container plant water more often in extreme heat.
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Summer Foliage Color: dark green
Minimum Sunlight: partial shade
Maximum Sunlight: full sun
Radicans Miniature Gardenia features showy fragrant white flowers at the ends of the branches from early to late summer. The flowers are excellent for cutting. It has dark green foliage. The glossy pointy leaves remain dark green throughout the winter. The fruit is not ornamentally significant.
Radicans Miniature Gardenia is a dense multi-stemmed evergreen shrub with a ground-hugging habit of growth. Its average texture blends into the landscape, but can be balanced by one or two finer or coarser trees or shrubs for an effective composition.This is a relatively low maintenance shrub, and should only be pruned after flowering to avoid removing any of the current season's flowers. It is a good choice for attracting bees and butterflies to your yard. It has no significant negative characteristics.Radicans Miniature Gardenia is recommended for the following landscape applicationsMass PlantingGeneral Garden UseGroundcoverContainer Planting
Radicans Miniature Gardenia will grow to be about 12 inches tall at maturity, with a spread of 3 feet. It tends to fill out right to the ground and therefore doesn't necessarily require facer plants in front. It grows at a slow rate, and under ideal conditions can be expected to live for approximately 30 years.This shrub does best in full sun to partial shade. It does best in average to evenly moist conditions, but will not tolerate standing water. It is not particular as to soil pH, but grows best in rich soils. It is somewhat tolerant of urban pollution. Consider applying a thick mulch around the root zone in winter to protect it in exposed locations or colder microclimates. This is a selected variety of a species not originally from North America.Radicans Miniature Gardenia makes a fine choice for the outdoor landscape, but it is also well-suited for use in outdoor pots and containers. Because of its spreading habit of growth, it is ideally suited for use as a 'spiller' in the 'spiller-thriller-filler' container combination plant it near the edges where it can spill gracefully over the pot. Note that when grown in a container, it may not perform exactly as indicated on the tag - this is to be expected. Also note that when growing plants in outdoor containers and baskets, they may require more frequent waterings than they would in the yard or garden.
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Caron Smed · Gardenality Seed · Zone 8A · 10° to 15° F
I grew gardenias in Atlanta, Georgia on the south side of the house protected beside the porch. They were the Veittchi variety and grew to be 4 feet high. They were beautiful and survived the winter snow there. I loved them and the blooms smelled musky and amazing. I used the blooms to make Grad wrist bands for my daughter. Highly recommend giving gardenias a try. Bought one for Kelowna BC and waiting for the blooms to break out.
Also want to choose some for propagating. Easy to do but not tried before.
Gardenality.com · Gardenality Genius · Zone 8A · 10° to 15° F · Comment About Planting
Creeping gardenia performs best in sites that provide well-drained soil and full to mostly sun, however they will tolerate a fair amount of shade. In colder regions, plant gardenias where they will have protection from severe winter winds, such as the east or south side of a home, building or other structure. Since gardenias are highly fragrant consider planting them near windows or outdoor living areas such as decks, patios, and porches, where their fragrance can be enjoyed.
To plant, dig a hole no deeper than the root ball and two to three times the width of the root ball and fill it with water. If the hole drains within a few hours, you have good drainage. If the water is still standing 12 hours later, improve the drainage in your bed, perhaps by establishing a raised bed. Turn and break up the soil removed from the planting hole. Mix some organic compost if the native soil is clay or compacted soil. Remove your plant from its container and carefully but firmly loosen the root ball. Set the plant into the hole you've prepared, making sure the top of the root ball is slightly above the soil level. Pull your backfill soil mixture around the root ball in the hole, tamping as you go to remove air pockets. Then water thoroughly and cover with a one to two-inch layer of mulch
Gardenality.com · Gardenality Genius · Zone 8A · 10° to 15° F · Comment About Pruning
Gardenias do not require pruning though they respond well to it. Prune as desired after the plants have bloomed. Older gardenias that have become spindly respond very well to rejuvenation pruning, which involves cutting the plant back to short stumps.
Gardenality.com · Gardenality Genius · Zone 8A · 10° to 15° F · Comment About Feeding
Gardenias prefer an acid soil with a pH in the range of 4.5 to 6. I fertilize gardenias after they've bloomed with a well-balanced shrub & tree type fertilizer that includes a micronutrient package containing iron and/or sulfur. If the foliage on your gardenia develop chlorosis (yellowing of leaves) due to soil that is too alkaline you can apply additional amounts of chelated iron and/or soil sulfur to lower soil pH, making it more acidic.
Gardenality.com · Gardenality Genius · Zone 8A · 10° to 15° F · Comment About Problems
The two problems I've seen with gardenias involve insects and damage from severe cold. In areas that experience cold temperatures, plant gardenias where they will receive some protection from sever cold winds, such as on the east or south side of a home, building or other structure. On occasion, gardenias can be visited by honeydew aphids or whiteflies. Honeydew aphids usually come in late summer and don't hang around too long. They don't do much damage but leave a sticky residue on the leaf that turns black over time. Aphids can be controlled with neem oil or malathion spray. To control whiteflies, spray with malathion and then again in 72 hours to eliminate hatchlings. When spraying any chemical always read and follow instructions on the product label.
Spencer Young · Gardenality Genius · Zone 8A · 10° to 15° F · Comment About Pruning
Gardenias requires no pruning. To Maintain shape prune in late Winter before new growth emerges. Cut with hand pruners and not powered trimmers to avoid scarring leaves.
DEBBIE KAYLOR · Gardenality Seed · Zone 8A · 10° to 15° F
I AM WONDERING IF I CAN GROW CREEPING GARDENIAS IN NASHVILLE,TN AREA.
Gardenality.com · Gardenality Genius · Zone 8A · 10° to 15° F
Hi Debbie - Creeping Gardenia are only cold hardy up to Zone 8a. Nashville is Zone 6b so too far north to grow gardenia year round outdoors. That being said, you can grow gardenias in containers that can be brought indoors during the winter months. This being said, if you can find the 'Crown Jewel' Gardenia it is said by some to be hardy in Zone 6b. Also, I have a 'Fall In Love' Gardenia that has shown very good resistance to cold temps. Not sure if it would be hardy in Nashville but might be worth a try.
Gloria Askins · Gardenality Bud · Zone 8A · 10° to 15° F
Radicans (creeping) Gardenia grows very successfully in northern SC and at least as far north as Charlotte NC which covers Zone 7 a & b. I have several in my garden in Greenville SC. We did get some leaf damage this winter because it was an extra harsh year but the new leaves came out quickly and you could not tell there was any problem by the beginning of May.
Gardenality.com · Gardenality Genius · Zone 8A · 10° to 15° F · Comment About Problems
That's good to hear, Gloria. A lot of whether or not a specific variety of gardenia will be hardy in a specific area depends on several factors including soil type and soil moisture, mulch, and location in the garden, which can either serve to protect or expose plants from the harsh elements. For instance, we had folks here in Zone 8A of mid Georgia who lost their Gardenia radicans this past winter because the plants were growing in a location that exposed them to the harsh winds and abnormal low temperatures. The Gardenia radicans in my own landscape did okay, but they are growing on the east side of my home, which gave them radiant heat and protection from the wind. Too, I apply an extra layer of mulch around the plants for insulation.
Debbie ONeill · Gardenality Seed · Zone 8A · 10° to 15° F
I live in zone 5 which is north central Texas. I never read that gardenias can grow successfully here, so hopefully you can direct me. I have a small space where I want to plant dwarf gardenias. Throughout the day, it will be shade in the am and west sun in the pm. I have ALWAYS loved their fragrance. I want to plant them in this spot so I don't have to continue planting something for each season in this particular area. Thanking you in advance for your help with this question.