The Q&A Archives: Planting & Care Of Gardenia And Hydragea

Question: Where is the best place to plant gardenia and hydragea bushes? Do they need full sun or partial sun and shade? Should they be next to the house or will they do well out in the open yard? I have looked and looked and haven't been able to find any info on these two bushes. I have received one of each for gifts and need to plant them. I surely want them to survive. During July, August and Sept. it is usually very hot and dry here in the past of NC where I live.

Answer: There are a number of hydrangea's, but the most commonly grown is Hydrangea macrophylla, or big leaf hydrangea. You can plant it now, in a partially shady spot, with at least some protection from hot afternoon sunshine. Prepare the planting hole by digging one slightly larger than the pot your plant is in. Loosen the soil, then lay the pot on its side and gently remove the plant. You may have to tap the sides and bottom of the pot to coax the plant out. If the roots are spiraling around, straighten them out so they'll grow out instead of around in a circle. Plant at the same level it was growing in the pot and firm the soil all around the roots. Then water well to exclude any air pockets around the roots.

Hydrangeas produce blossoms on new shoots that grow from the previous year's wood. If you prune carefully after the blooms are spent, taking one-third to one-half of the old wood, new flowering shoots will appear the following spring. Plant in rich, porous soil (amend with compost or peat moss to retain just the right amount of moisture), and mulch the root zone to help suppress weeds. Hydrangeas are fast growing shrubs. Prune the flowering
stems back to the ground each year to make room for new stems that will produce flowers.

Unfortunately, gardenia is often a disappointment to gardeners because it can be very, very demanding. For flower buds to form and thrive, night temperatures need to be between 60-65F. During the day, temperatures should be 70-75F. A very constant, even temperature is required or buds will drop. Bright light is essential, avoid direct mid-day sun in the summer. Keep the soil moist at all times except winter when watering should be reduced. Mist the leaves frequently, and repot every 2-3 years. Good Luck!

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