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Gardenias are bushes that have dark green leaves and pure white flower blossoms that appear in the spring. In warm climates, the blossoms will endure throughout the summer months. The gardenia plant is most recognizable by the aromatic scent that the blossoms produce. In fact, oil from gardenia blossoms is frequently added to perfumes, body lotions and home fragrance products. Since gardenias love warm, humid conditions, gardeners must perform several steps to winterize them.
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Apply a 1- to 2-inch layer of mulch around the base of the gardenia plant to protect the roots during the cold winter months. Extend the mulch out 1 foot from the base of the plant.
Reduce watering starting in late fall. Only water when the top 2 inches of soil are dry to the touch.
Stop fertilizing the plant in late fall after it stops blooming for the year. Gardenias are dormant in the winter, and excess fertilizer can burn the roots.
Cover gardenia bushes with a blanket or plastic tarp when nighttime temperatures drop below freezing. Remove the covering the next day once temperatures rise above freezing.
Perform pruning in late fall, as the plant should not be pruned during the winter months. Cut off any diseased or yellowing branches using sharp pruning shears.
If you live in a cold climate, dig up gardenia plants in late fall and transplant them into a pot. Place the pot in a location with bright light and high humidity. Keep the soil moist and do not allow the plant to dry out. Replant in the spring when temperatures rise above freezing.