Gardenia Care For Florida Landscaping
Gardenia plants produce white flowers and are popular in Florida landscapes. Some types blooming throughout the growing season, from spring to fall, Gardenia are captivating with their fragrance and color. If the smell is a bit overwhelming to you, they can be located farther out in your landscape. Good care of gardenias keeps them healthy with beautiful flowers.
Placement When Planting Gardenias
Plant Gardenias along pathways, at corners of buildings, and near windows. They are great for borders, ground covers, singular, or mass plantings as hedges. Gardenia need to be in full sun, partial shade or shifting shade. Too much shade can reduce blooming and loss of normal dark green color in leaves. They need to be in well-drained soil and want good air circulation. Proper placement is the foundation for good Gardenia care.
Types Of Gardenia Plants
Gardenia plants come from a rootstock on their own root system “Own Root” or they are “Grafted”. Planting Gardenias in North Florida should be restricted to “Own Root” because “Grafted” are not hardy below 28 degrees. “Grafted” Gardenia do better in Central and Southern Florida.
There are variations of flower size, Form, blooming time, duration, and growth characteristics among types. Some popular shrubs are “August Beauty” which bloom from sprlng to fall with a height 4-6 feet, “Mystery” Which grow to a height 4-8 feet, “Radicans” also known as “Prostata” height 1-2 feet, and “Veitchii” that bloom spring to fall with a height 2-5 feet.
Some types that are “Grafted” are Gardenia Trees which are very popular in Florida. They are great for landscapes, placed at corners of buildings. Gardenia Trees do not grow too tall and produce large amounts of flowers.
Proper pruning care of Gardenias is needed for good branch growth, plus helping with bud initiation and development. Incorrect pruning can reduce the amount of flowers the plant produces, and be detrimental to the plant’s growth.
Do Not prune Gardenias by “cutting back” to the base of the plant or by “shearing”. Remove no more than 1/3 of the plant. Light pruning is recommended for Gardenias. Light pruning is done by removing branches to shape up the plant, and to remove any dead branches. Light pruning helps Gardenias to keep their natural shape.
Pruning should be done right after Gardenias have finished flowering.
If done prior to blooming, the amount of flowers will be reduced.
Pruning Gardenias in Florida should be done before October 1.
Pruning in the fall after October 1 reduces next years blooms. Pruning should be done early enough to allow the new growth to be at least 4 to 6 inches by the first of October. Young Gardenias that are growing vigorously during the first year may be pruned once in June and again in August, to encourage heavy branching.
Watering For Gardenia
It is important to follow proper watering practices for Gardenia. They do best in well- drained soil. The soil needs to be moist but not soaked. Poor drainage or over watering can cause Gardenia yellow leaves. But during dry periods such as drought watering is necessary to keep them from wilting. Watering once a week should be sufficient for care of Gardenias.
Watering controls the number of buds remaining on the plant. If water stress occurs on a healthy budded plant, many will fall of before opening. Large variations in soil moisture should be avoided, to keep from having problems with blooming.
Fertilizer Care Of Gardenias
Proper fertilization is required for good growth and flowering production. A “Complete” granular fertilizer containing nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, and iron is recommended. Gardenias perform ideally in soil that is maintained at a PH level between ( 5.0 and 6.5 ). Follow recommendations on the label for proper amount, too much can cause root problems.
Established Gardenias require two or three applications per year. One application in February for Southern Florida, March for North and Central. A second in September for North, October for Central and South Florida. A third application may be done in the summer for the best care of Gardenias.
Yellow leaves (Chlorotic) can occur due to a deficiency of iron. It can be corrected by a foliar treatment with “Liquid Iron”. Once again follow directions on label for mixture and duration between applications.
Insects On Gardenia
There are insects in Florida that can injure Gardenias unless proper insect control and care of Gardenias is used. Most injurious are Scales, Aphids, Spider Mites, Thrips, and Whiteflies.
Scales include “Cotton Cushion”, “Soft Brown”, and other types When mature they can be hard to eliminate. Spider Mites can cause damage during hot dry periods. Thrips can cause unopened buds to drop. Aphids suck the juices out of the stems, which can become a severe problem.
An organism called “Black Sooty Mold” Which lives on the honeydew secreted by Aphids can be found on the leaves. This is very common on Gardenias. The black substance does not hurt the foliage but prevents the leaves from getting sunlight reducing photosynthesis.
Regular inspection helps control insects from getting out of hand. Proper treatment with insecticide is needed when pests become noticeable. A program of using a “Systemic” insecticidal care of Gardenias on a regular basis can also help in controlling insects.
No matter what shape or form Gardenia adds attraction to your landscape, with a mix of deep green leaves and blooming white flowers. With the proper care of Gardenias you will be rewarded with healthy eye-appealing plants with wonderful white color.
Learn what to look for when purchasing quality plants.
Author, Kurt Kmetz