The Q&A Archives: Gardenia and container gardening

Question: I am unable to locate the grafted mystery gardenia patio tree. I was told it was the hardiest and less demanding of all the gardenia. Can you comment on this or reccommend others if I'm not able to locate it. How does patio trees do compare to shrubs?
Also can you comment on the best pots for flowering & citrus trees...Fiberglass vs clay vs cement and appropriate sizes. I have been advised to get the biggest pot possible for the trees but if I only have 5gal. plants, how big is too big or too small?
Thank you.

Answer: Mystery Gardenia is one of the hardiest gardenias around. It is less demanding than other gardenias and would be perfect if you're a casual gardener. Obviously, a grafted plant (roses and citrus trees are grafted) has a weak point - the graft. While it is not impossible for your gardening region to experience hard freezes, if one were to hit, the graft would be vulnerable to damage. If such a frost were predicted, you'd want to wrap the aboveground graft to protect it from damage. Aside from that, both the shrub and the patio tree variety will have the same cultural needs and growth habits.

As for containers, each has its good points along with cautions. Fiberglass pots are durable, attractive and light weight, even when filled with potting soil. This is important if you want to move your pots around on the patio or deck. However, if your plant is topheavy, a lightweight pot could topple over in a wind storm. Cement pots will last decades but they're extremely heavy - you won't be able to move them around with ease, but they will remain upright in a wind storm, even with a topheavy plant. Terra cotta or clay pots wick moisture from the soil - they need to be watered more frequently. They are good for plants that like soils on the dry side. They will crack over time and usually become stained with minerals and/or algae growth.

Trees have extensive root systems and will need at least 20-30 gallon sized pots to remain healthy. You might try planting you trees in a half-whiskey barrel or a wooden 36 or 48 inch planter.

Hope this answers all your questions!

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