The Q&A Archives: proper care & pruning

Question: What is the proper care and pruning of Gardenias and bougainvilleas?

Answer: For starters, you have got to find the right spot. Gardenias thrive in warm, humid, frost-free areas, in a place that offers dappled light or morning sun. They'll grow well in cooler areas too. Just find a warm, sunny spot near a brick wall or paving. That extra thermal heat will provide the perfect microclimate.

Gardenias love a fertile soil, so before planting, dig in lots of compost and old manures. The drainage must be perfect, so mound up your planting beds, and if your soil is particularly heavy, think about installing some agricultural drainage pipe to help draw any excess moisture away.

You have got to keep the soil moist to grow good quality blooms. A dripper irrigation system is the most efficient way to do this, and a good layer of organic mulch will help keep that moisture in the soil.

Gardenias are hungry plants too. A regular light application of Azalea and Camellia food from spring through to summer will give them just the right balance of nutrients they need.

And pruning? Well the best time for a trim is when they've finished flowering in summer, just to keep them in shape.

Gardenias are plants that love that extra bit of TLC, and if you follow these tips you'll be rewarded with the most beautiful blooms you have ever produced.

Bougainvilleas are relatively easy to grow. Select a site that gets full sunshine and water deeply once or twice a week, depending upon weather. Bougainvilleas grow and flower in a 6-week cycle. They grow, then they set flowers, then they rest and then they begin to grow again. To prune, wait until they have finished flowering, then prune them back. The plants will rest for a few weeks and then send out new flowering stems.

Best wishes with your garden!

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