The Q&A Archives: Gardenia

Question: I would like to know which variety of Gardenia would do best in my area, and if it would take southern exposure up against my house?

Answer: Successfull growing a gardenia means providing just the right environmental conditions. The site you describe doesn't sound as though a gardenia will be happy there. Over-exposure to sunlight might cause the leaves to turn crispy brown. As beautiful as they are, gardenias can be a real challenge to grow. They're very picky about their surroundings. They need at least a half day of full sun to bloom, but at the same time, the hot afternoon sun can be tough on them. Morning sun is best, so an eastern location would be ideal. You can try a southern or western exposure, but provide some filtered shade in the afternoons. If your gardenia isn't happy, buds can turn black and drop, and leaves can turn yellow.

Leaf drop can also be caused by improper soil pH (gardenia require 5 to 5.5pH - on the acid side.) Yellowing and leaf drop are also signs of various soil nutrient deficiencies such as nitrogen, zinc, and iron.

Finally, if the air is too dry, your plant will drop buds and leaves. To avoid this, try sprinkling the plant every morning to increase humidity (and also discourage spider mites!).

Other than following the above guidelines, choose the garden that most appeals to you - they're all beautiful, but they all require the same care!

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