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  • Writer's pictureDigger and Gina McLean

Growing Gorgeous Gardenias!

Gardenias are a true Southern favorite, and what's not to love? Dark green glossy foliage and heavenly smelling white flowers combine to make the most delightful garden shrub. My mother, a true Southern lady from Tennessee was transplanted to Arizona as a young adult. I remember her love of gardenias. So much so that she planted one in our Arizona courtyard! A tiny shrub became a little bit of home to her. It's survival was a testament to Southern resolve and spirit. One of our Facebook friends says she clips blooms to bring inside and roots the cuttings to give to her friends. Who wouldn't love to get a gardenia of their very own? May we all have and be a friend like that!

Gardenias are adapted to the Southern climate, but need a little TLC to thrive. Here are some things gardenias need to grow:

1. Low Soil Ph. Gardenias prefer a soil Ph between 5 and 6. To keep your soil Ph low, you can use pine bark mulch, which naturally has a low Ph and will break down slowly around your shrub. A depth of 2-3 inches if fine and make sure it is pulled back from the trunk of your gardenia. Pine bark soil conditioner is a finer consistency and can be gently worked into the ground around your gardenia shrub. Be careful not to disturb the roots, as gardenias don't like to be disturbed.

2. Full Sun to Part Shade. I've found that gardenias do well with morning sun and afternoon shade in the South where summers tend to get hot.

3. Moist Soil. Gardenias like high humidity and moist, well drained soil. They really need about an inch of water per week, so in dry months be sure they get needed water.

4. Regular Fertilizer. Use a fertilizer especially designed for acid loving plants. I really like the Osmocote fertilizer for acid lovers. It's easy to apply and you don't have to remember to use it more than about twice a year, which works for me. I also dilute my leftover coffee and water around my gardenia with it.

5. Love. If you think it helps, talk to your gardenia and tell it how well it's doing and how much you love it's flowers. :) That's a good time to smell any heavenly flowers it's producing too. So get close and give it some love.

Gardenias are amazing shrubs that provide pure enjoyment for gardeners. Take time to stop and smell the flowers! It's a little bit of heaven right here on Earth.

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