Answer: Gardenias are fussy plants. They like to be given ample water, ample feeding and ample warmth. The soil they are to be grown in must be acidic, otherwise the leaves turn brown and the buds drop. They need regular treatment with iron and doses of aluminum sulfate to keep the soil acid and keep iron chlorosis from turning the leaves a pale color. Feed them monthly during the growing season with an acid food, one prepared for camellias, azaleas and rhododendrons. Many successful gardeners use Miracle-Gro or Miracid as a foliar spray and as an aid in correcting iron deficiencies.
Gardenias prefer being planted in a place where they get full sun in the morning and shade in the afternoon. Plant them in the ground with the crown (the part where the stem arises from the ground) raised slightly above the existing soil. This will help prevent root rots. Gardenias do not like their roots disturbed by cultivation. Cover the area underneath gardenias with a thick layer of mulch. Once established in a place they like and given proper care, gardenias will bloom their hearts out, providing an abundance of fragrant flowers for you to enjoy.
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