QUESTION: I have an issue with a gardenia plant/tree that I purchased this summer. It was blooming nicely and looked to be very healthy, but when I brought it home I transplanted it out of the 3-gallon bucket to a larger pot and
placed it on our porch, and it started to show a yellowing of the flowers and then stopped producing flowers. It was getting direct morning sun till about 10 a.m. and shade for the rest of the day. I moved the plant to the basement with no direct sun but plenty of light and much cooler temps. It still does not seem to be recovering. I water it every few days but careful not too water too much because the leaves turn brown if I do so. What do you suggest I do to revive this beautiful plant? – Rick
Gardenias are beautiful and their sweet fragrance is almost intoxicating, but they present a challenge
even in the best environment. I spent some time leafing through gardening books and looking around the Web for information, and it looks like you are experiencing a typical reaction to bringing a gardenia home. It sulks, and stops producing flowers.
Of course, a gardenia has a limited flowering season, typically spring into early summer, so it may be that yours was coming to the end of its flowering cycle when you brought it home. Plus, remember that gardenias grow better in the South’s lower regions, where winters don’t get as cold.
In our area, they should be treated as house plants, which means that you will have to bring it indoors or into a greenhouse and baby it through the winter or it will sulk some more. In the house, it becomes a magnet for mealybugs, mites and whiteflies.
So, if you still want to revive this temperamental beauty, here’s what it needs: acid soil, good drainage, full sun or partial shade, regular watering, high humidity, and nighttime temperatures of 50 – 55 degrees in winter and spring if you want flowers.
By the way, the most common gardenia, G. jasminoides (G. augusta), is said to be hardy to about 10 degrees, and may survive to zero degrees, but will likely die back to the roots. There are several varieties that may be hardier in colder climates: ‘Chuck Hayes,’ ‘Grif’s Select,’ and ‘Klein’s Hardy’ are
said to be slightly more tolerant of cold weather. Good luck.
Oh, deer: In many areas, deer come out frequently to sample the goodies they see growing around the house. Check out the list of deer-resistant plants in The Garden Club column in Saturday’s Tennessean.
Two meetings at Cheekwood Tuesday night, Sept. 20, both open to the public:
The Perennial Plant Society will meet in Botanic Hall. Refreshments and plant swap begin at 6:30, and the meeting at 7 p.m. features guest speaker Kevin Guenter, president and owner of Design Resource and founder of The Sustainable Living Guild. He will speak on “Sustainable Patterns in the Garden.”
The Orchid Society of Middle Tennessee meets at 7 p.m. in Botanic Hall. Speaker is David Johnston of Jewell Orchids; his topic is “New Trends in Blue Cattleya.”