Darrell Blackwelder: Gardenias are blooming

Published 12:00 am Saturday, June 1, 2024

Gardenias are blooming and their exquisite fragrant flowers make these a must for landscapes. Shrubs should be located near an entrance or walkway to experience the sweet, unique fragrance during bloom. The shrub can also adapt as the centerpiece in planters blended with annuals and perennials.

Historically, these beautiful, scented shrubs are not the easiest shrubs to grow because of their susceptibility to cold weather. However, the warmer climate and numerous marketed cultivars have made it easier for the shrubs to adapt to our climate. Shrub size may range from groundcovers to thick flower-laden shrubs that can grow over four feet in height. The blooms vary from a large double to minute single bloom depending on the cultivar.

Gardenias survive and prosper when planted in filtered or light shade free of direct competition from trees and other shrubs. Gardenias prefer slightly acid, moist, well-drained soil with ample organic matter.

Gardenias appreciate mulch and a steady supply of plant food such as azalea fertilizer, fish emulsion or blood meal. These should be applied in late June to extend their blooming period. It is very important not to fertilize gardenias in late summer or early fall as late fertilization stimulates tender growth and may severely damage the shrub if low freezing winter temperatures occur. Irrigation is also essential to keep the plants in good condition for continuous bloom and health. Keep the soil evenly moist during hot, dry weather. Go to https://plants.ces.ncsu.edu/plants/gardenia-jasminoides/ for more detailed information on the various gardenia varieties.

Darrell Blackwelder is the retired horticulture agent and director with the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service in Rowan County. Contact him at deblackw@ncsu.edu.