Answer: Gardenias are difficult to grow in Southern Arizona. Morning sun and at least partial shade in the afternoons are necessary. They don't like our soil, our intense heat nor our water. Sometimes they find a site they love and they thrive (like the one your Mom is growing) and other times they just pout and die. In my garden, I've been successful with one specific variety: Gardenia jasminoides 'August Beauty'. It has lustrous dark green foliage and a naturally rounded form. It is a prolific bloomer of a large, sweetly fragrant flowers. It requires an eastern exposure or at the very least, shade from the afternoon sunshine.
Prior to planting, amend the soil with lots of organic matter [up to 50% volume],
particularly of slightly acidic material like peat moss or chipped bark (gardenias prefer slightly acidic soils). Or, you can simply plant yours in a large container filled with potting soil which is naturally slightly acidic and then leave the container above ground or sink it into the ground as part of your landscape. Either way, you're assured of providing well draining, rich, slightly acidic soil to your gardenia.
Hope this information helps you grow a healthy gardenia!
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