The Q&A Archives: Planting Gardenias

Question: We are about to plant 20 Monrovia Mystery Gardenias which have been living in pots for about a year. There's alot of discussion between the gardners about what mix of soil to use, How high should we build the soil how much sun/shade, etc. The soil we have is alkaline and some soil used for roses is mixed in. It freezes here in the winter and summers are pretty scorching hot (we would protect them during these seasons. The area we would plant them in is a 20 ft x 30 ft area. Please help. We also have August Beauty?? but those are doing well.

Answer: Sylvia,

To make a magnolia at home in Austin you need to take some special steps. Amend the soil by adding a few inches of peat moss and/or composted bark. The rose soil you mentioned is probably fine too. Choose a spot with lots of morning sun but some afternoon shade. Keep the soil moist but make sure the area drains well or construct raised planting beds high enough to insure the roots don't sit in saturated soil. This would usually be about a foot high as they will settle in time to about 8 inches high. Fertilize with a product for acid loving plants. Maintain even moisture and a surface mulch to deter weeds.

One more thing...
When you remove them from their pots check for circling roots. I suggest using a box cutter knife to make 3 or 4 vertical cuts through the root ball to encourage the roots to branch and move outward into the surrounding soil after planting. This sounds drastic I know but won't kill the plants and can be the difference between the plants establishing and growing or remaining stunted and performing poorly.

Thanks for the question. Please stop in again soon!

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