How to Care for a Gardenia Tree

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Gardenia trees are lush tropical plants with a fragrant white blossoms. Like most tropical plants, gardenia trees have a reputation for being difficult to care for. There are specific details to be aware of whether planting the gardenia outdoors or keeping it inside. Being observant to the plant's behavior and following these guidelines will help you master the art of caring for a gardenia.

Things You'll Need

  • Healthy gardenia plant
  • Large planting container with wheel
  • Quality organic potting soil
  • Shovel
  • Acid fertilizer

Planting the Gardenia Outdoors

  • Gardenia plants thrive in daily temperatures in the low 70s. Do not plant the gardenia outdoors if your region is consistently hotter or colder.

  • Choose a spot with partial or shifting shade. Avoid full sun. Also, avoid a location underneath taller plants and shrubs which may drip water onto the plant and spot the leaves.

  • Dig a hole two times larger than the gardenia’s roots. The top of the root ball should be slightly higher than the soil level.

  • Fill in the hole with organic potting soil. Form a mound to cover the top of the roots with a slope to drain water away from the trunk.

  • Begin watering the gardenia every two days. Generously soak the roots. If the soil is too dry on the off day, water more frequently. If the soil is still too wet on the off day, water a little less. Gardenias can be neither over nor under watered or they will experience bud drop.

  • Check frequently for mealy bugs, red spiders and other harmful insects as well as bud drop.

  • Fertilize with an acid fertilizer, such as azalea fertilizer, monthly in spring and summer.

Keeping the Gardenia Indoors

  • Choose a container for the gardenia plant with a removable saucer on the bottom. The gardenia container should also have wheels or be sitting on a wheeled dolly. Healthy gardenias can grow over six feet tall and are difficult to move without wheels.

  • Give the plant full sunlight, whether on a patio or by a window.

  • Water the plant by pouring water into the saucer on the bottom of the container. Allow the plant to soak up as much water as it needs, but dispose of any remaining water. The soil surrounding gardenia roots should not stay too wet, but the plant can not dry out.

  • How often you water the gardenia plant varies per plant, region and whether you keep the gardenia indoors or out. Pay close attention to the gardenia plant to keep it watered at the right intervals.

  • Fertilize with an acid fertilizer, such as azalea fertilizer, monthly in spring and summer.

Tips & Warnings

  • Check the plant every day for mealy bug, spiders and other harmful plant insects. Use pesticide if necessary.
  • If the plant does not show any buds, it may be too warm.
  • Winterize the gardenia plant indoors before the first frost.
  • Gardenias are more difficult to care for indoors than out.

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