The Q&A Archives: Gardenias Outdoors in Seattle

Question: Hi,
I am a first time gardener and I recently bought 3 Kleim hardy gardenias. I have already planted one outdoors, and the other two I haven't decided yet. My question is, how do I care for the one I put in the ground? Will it survive well in Washington state? Right now the plants are about a foot tall.

My second question is about Gardenia augustus. I planted it in a big container. Will it survive in a container? The leaves are begining to turn yellow, however the buds look healthy. How do I care for this? Do I need to stake it or does it have strong stems? How do I take care of it in the winter? Will I have to bring them indoors?

Please help.

Answer: Gardenias are only marginally hardy in Seattle (Kleim is hardy to about zero degrees; augusta is hardy to 20 degrees). While Kleim will show some foliage damage during the winter months if left outdoors, the roots will survive if you mulch over the top of the soil. New stems will emerge the following spring. Gardenia augustus is a little more tender but if you have a protected spot outdoors, it will probably survive. The root systems of plants in containers are at risk of freezing so if you leave your gardenias in pots outdoors, be sure to bury the pots in the ground to help insulate the roots.

Or, you can pot all of them up and plan on taking them indoors over the winter months. They'll need to be taken in when nighttime temperatures are about 50F. Place them in a bright area, water as needed and mist the leaves occasionally to counteract dry indoor air. Best wishes with your garden!

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