Gardenia is a plant native to China that belongs to the Rubiaceae family. It has more than 100 different species, which are highly appreciated in the gardening world thanks to its beautiful and fragrant flowers.
However, gardenia is also known for not being a simple plant to care for. If you plan to get one of these beautiful plants for your home, do not be cowed by the difficulties and join us in this article. Here, we will see how to care for a gardenia.
How to care for a gardenia?
The most important requirement of gardenia, and therefore the first that we are going to talk about, is that it is an acidophilic plant. This means that you need soils with a more acidic pH than usual. In this case, a value around 5. If the plant does not have a substrate or soil with adequate acidity, its leaves will start to yellow and the plant will finish dying, so this is a prerequisite.
There are specialized shops that sell acid substrates for acidophilic plants, such as heather, chestnut or blonde peat. In addition, gardenia will appreciate that the soil is rich in organic matter, so some compost in the mix is highly recommended. Lastly, the soil or substrate must offer good drainage.
This plant can be planted both indoors and outdoors. Indoors, we recommend placing it somewhere near a window or natural light source, while outdoors it is appropriate to look for a semi-shade area. Keep in mind that it is a tropical plant, so the frost will kill it if you plant it in the garden in cold weather.
Watering the gardenias
Gardenia requires constant but not excessive watering. Water it when the substrate becomes too dry, but don’t water it or it could be attacked by fungi. The most important thing here is the water used: if you water with tap water and your area is rich in lime, this would alter the acid pH of your substrate or soil. Therefore, use soft bottled water or even distilled water. If you don’t have access to any of these things, you can add a few drops of vinegar or lemon juice to it to make it more acidic.
Compost for gardenias
In spring and summer, you can fertilize your gardenia once a month to enhance its growth and flowering. Use compost for acidophilic plants.
Prune a gardenia
In this aspect, the gardenia appreciates a maintenance pruning a year in winter, when you clean it of those leaves and branches in poor condition. You can also take advantage to eliminate branches that intersect with others or that are growing in undesired directions. Right after its flowering season in summer, it can be clamped so that the plant blooms again in autumn.
When gardenias bloom and how to make them bloom?
As we have just explained, gardenias produce their beautiful and fragrant flowers between late spring and summer. However, if you apply pinch pruning after the main bloom, you can get it to flower again in the fall, especially in warmer climates.
If your gardenia does not produce a good flowering, it is probably due to the fact that some of the aspects of its care are not being taken care of correctly. If you have respected all the gardenia care points explained above and you live in a very warm area, what your plant needs are that you spray some water on its leaves on the hottest days, although do it with a very fine spray to prevent them from becoming covered in fungi.
Pests and diseases in gardenia
There are two main problems that gardenia tends to face. These are the most frequent pests, diseases and conditions of gardenias:
The first occurs when the leaves of the gardenia are yellow because the plant is not in soil acidic enough for it. As an emergency measure, if this happens to you, you can apply fertilizer in the form of a chelate to the plant, which will help it while you solve the problem of acidifying the soil. Please note that this is only a temporary solution and is in no way a substitute for the need for acidic soil.
The second is excess moisture, which causes the plant to be attacked by fungi. Don’t overwater your gardenia, and only do it when the substrate is dry.
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