Gardenias are best known for their fragrant white flowers and generally found outdoors in southern regions and are admired for their glossy green foliage and fragrant blossoms. These beautiful plants are grown as ornamental shrubs in warm regions and as patio plants that are brought indoors in cooler areas. As gardenias are heat loving evergreen shrubs they have become a gardening symbol in the Southeast. It is native to the tropical and subtropical regions of Africa, southern Asia, Australasia and Oceania and is also known as cape jasmine. As of 2014, The Plant List recognizes 140 accepted species of gardenia.
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The requirements for growing gardenias are very exact and must be met to insure your plants continued to bloom. Select a site with full sun to light shade and moist, rich and well-draomed soil. Gardenias prefer acidic soil with a pH between 5.0 and 6.0. Avoid planting gardenias near concrete walk or foundation where the pH maybe too high for food growth. It is best to plant in spring or fall, space the plants 3 to 6 feet apart. It is highly recommended to have the soil tested beforehand to determine its pH level and if necessary add an adequate amount of sulfur to lower the pH level between 5 and 6. Carefully remove the plant from the container and set it in the hole. Fill the hole half full with soil, then water it well to settle the soil and eliminate air pockets. Let the water drain, then fill the remainder of hole with soil and water thoroughly.
Gardenias require an inch of rain or equivalent watering each week. Apply a 2 to 4 inch layer of organic mulch to keep the soil moist, reduce weeding and maintain constant soil temperature. During the growing season feed monthly with an acidifying fertilizer. Pruning is advised in early spring shaping the bush and deadhead after flowering to encourage more flowering.
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The best way to protect any plant from pests is to keep it healthy and prevent over-crowding. Gardenias are vulnerable to various insects including: aphids, mealy bugs, spider mites, thrips, scale and whiteflies.
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