Caring for a gardenia tree is not difficult, but it does require planning to ensure suitable soil, temperature, and water conditions. The payoff is a flowering tree with fragrant white blossoms. Gardenia trees can be planted in a pot or outdoors in a garden. Assess your region's climate to determine the best action for this tree. Use these guidelines to care for your gardenia tree.
Gardenia trees have specific temperature requirements. They do best in hardiness zones 8 to 10 with daytime temperatures between 65 and 75 degrees and nighttime temperatures between 55 and 60 degrees. Before acquiring a gardenia tree, consider how you can fulfill these needs given your region's climate.
Plant the trees during the spring or fall.
If you live in a mild climate, plant the gardenia tree outdoors in partial shade. Full sun during the heat of the day can actually burn the blossoms. The trees also grow in pots, which can be moved indoors for more control over temperature. If growing indoors, place the pot in bright indirect light.
Plant the gardenia tree is slightly acidic soil with a pH ranging from 5 to 6. If planting outdoors, treat the soil with sulfur to attain the proper pH. Gardenias rely on acidic soil with good drainage and will not survive in alkaline or soggy soil conditions.
Depending on your variety, gardenia trees can reach a height of 2 to 8 feet tall and wide. Consider the size of your mature tree when planting more than one. Ensure that you plant them with enough space so they do not become cramped or compete for soil nutrients.
Apply a layer of mulch on the soil surface to help maintain soil moisture and regulate temperature.
Apply about an inch of water weekly to your gardenia tree, but do not overwater it. For potted gardenias, insert your finger to a depth of 2 inches. If your finger is dry, water your plant. Ensure the pot has adequate drainage holes to prevent overdoing it.
Potted gardenias can also be placed on top of a tray filled with pebbles and water to provide more humidity. If you live in a drier climate, mist the leaves with a spray bottle. If you live in a humid environment, avoid misting the plant as it could lead to leaf spot fungus.
Apply water soluble fertilizer solution every 2 weeks. During its growing season from April to November, apply an acid based feed every 3 to 4 months.
Observe the gardenia tree frequently for pests like aphids and whiteflies. Treat them using insecticidal soap or horticultural oil.
Gardenia trees are highly sensitive plants and suffer easily from rot and fungus caused by too much moisture. Assess the plant's health often if you live in humid conditions.
They also experience bud drop, in which closed blossoms fall off the plant right before blooming. This is caused by a variety of maintenance issues such as overwatering or under watering, low humidity, and inadequate light and temperature. For this reason, gardenia trees need continual assessment.