Answer: Spring is the best time to plant new gardenias. They grow best in rich, loose, acidic soils. I'd start by amending the planting bed with compost or peat moss and then planting. Gardenias seem to grow and flower best when they get morning sun and shade from hot afternoon sunshine. They also like humidity so mulching over the soil surface after planting will help keep the roots cool and moist by slowing evaporation. I think your success with planting a tree rather than a small shrub is that the root system on the tree was more mature and established more quickly. If you prepare the soil well before planting and put your new shrubs in a cool, moist growing area, you should be successful. You can try propagating your favorite gardenia in this manner:
1. Take a cutting from the shrub, choosing a stem that is neither new or old growth but a semi-hardwood cutting from the midsection of a stem.
2. Using sterile, sharp shears, cut just above a leaf axil. Note: A quick way to sterilize your cutting shears is to dip the blades in rubbing alcohol.
3.Remove the leaves along the base of the stem.
4. Make a diagonal cut at the base of the stem.
5. Dip the cutting in rooting hormone.
6. Make a small hole in the potting soil, and plant the cutting. Remember to use a soil that drains well.
7. Gently tamp the soil around the stem, and water thoroughly.
8. To create a humid environment for the plant, stake toothpicks, chopsticks, or even pencils around the base of the plant and place a piece of plastic over the top.
When you see new growth, remove the plastic to encourage good air circulation. After the cuttings are well rooted you can plant them in their permanent spots in the garden.
Good luck with your project!
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