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Growing gardenias.

Gardenia plants are difficult, but if you understand the needs of them, you can grow them indoors or outdoors, depending on the climate. As a houseplant, they seem to wither most of the time. With proper care, you can grow beautiful and fragrant shrubs successfully all year around.

The Gardenia originated in China and Japan and when grown in the southern gardening zones 9 and 10, can be grown up to six feet tall depending on the species. When you planting gardenias, consider the east or west side of your home. Be sure that the soil is well drained and has a pH of 4.5 to 5.5. Preferred temperatures range from 68 to 74 degrees with a low of 60 at night. Add peat moss, which will help it retain moisture without allowing it to get too wet.

Gardenias like humidity, but misting the leaves could spell out problems as the water can lead to fugus on the leaves. Be sure also that the plants are not too close together, as a lack of airflow will also lead to growth of fungus. If you are planting them indoors, be sure that the top soil is dry, using your finger, then soak with water. All water in the catch tray should be drained.

April through November, you should fertilize the plants monthly. Use a fertilizer for azaleas. Prune the Gardenia plants right after the flowers stop blooming. This will encourage new growth and more frequent blooming.

When planting them outdoors, dig a hole twice the size of the root ball. Be sure that the top of the root ball is slightly above the soil’s surface. Eliminate air when covering the root ball, then water thoroughly.

There are more than 200 species of gardenias, some of which are believed to have medicinal properties. However, please do not consume any part of the plant without speaking with an expert. The most common gardenia types are:

• Gardenia Jasminoides–This is the most common type of gardenia, which gets up to two feet tall. It is named for its fragrance which reminds some of jasmine.
• Gardenia Thunbergia–Also known as Star Gardenia, this can be grown as a tree or a shrub and gets to be about four feet tall.
• Gardenia Nitida–This species gets up to three feet tall and produces white flowers.
• Gardenia Radicans Floreplena–This is a Japanese dwarf variety that gets to about 18 inches and produces double blooms. Discover more about Sheds First at www.shedsfirst.co.uk .

The best way to protect any plant from pests is to keep it healthy and prevent over-crowding. Other common causes of insect problems include allowing too much moisture to sit on the leaves and not maintaining the proper temperature and moisture levels. Keeping gardenias in the proper conditions goes a long way toward protecting them from common pests.

The number one thing to remember about gardenias is, if you are patient you will be rewarded.