Growing gardenias easy and simple

A gardenia is an easily recognizable and admired plant. It is due to the production of large, pure white flowers that combine very well with the dark green of its leaves. A great shrub that has many, many uses. Best of all, its pleasant perfume. We are going to know more about all the intrigues that gardenias keep us .


When we talk about the gardenia we mention the genus, which belongs to a very extensive family (10,000 species) of trees, shrubs, herbs, etc. known as  Rubiaceae.  When cataloging the set of species that belong to the Gardenia family, we would classify them as shrubs. Its leaves are evergreen so they remain intact all year round (perfect for covering fences to separate spaces), and its leaves, white as we have said, some species have a certain resemblance to the rose.

There are a few interesting species although from here we mention some that can help you choose:

  • Jasminoides
  • Fortunei
  • Radicans
  • Florepens
  • Latifolia

The good thing about gardenia is that it can be grown both in the garden and indoors. Although it is a shrub, this does not imply that it cannot be arranged in pots inside our house, patio or balcony. In fact, its cultivation in this way is more known and used than outdoors and perhaps it is because this way its development is better controlled and its needs are satisfied. Although it is not a very complicated crop, it has its peculiarities that we will mention.



In general, warm temperatures are required for its good development. This is a clear example of why growing in pots is characteristic of this group of species, since we can play with the climate. At night, as it requires temperatures above 10 ºC, we introduce it inside the house, and during the day we can leave it outside , since it requires temperatures above 20 ºC.

With humidity  and with light  the same thing happens, we can also do the same if we have it in a pot. If we have it in the garden, it is important that we have a warm climate. Its disposition can be in semi shade , since the intense light of the summer months with very high temperatures can annoy the total development of the flowers (from its flower bud).


There are two important things that guarantee success or failure once we start growing gardenia, the presence of nutritional deficiencies due to the pH of the soil or substrate and the salinity of the soil.

Above all, gardenia requires a soil with an acid pH. If not, mineral deficiencies will soon begin, especially those that under alkaline soils induce immobility and are no longer absorbable by plant roots. This is the case of iron. The chlorosis is a common example of what we speak. If we want to be brave and not correct the soil with acid peat or alkaline soil correctors (sulfur itself, iron sulfate, decomposed organic matter, etc.) we must have iron chelates on hand for when we see the leaves turn. yellow and the nerves still their initial color.

And as a second point we comment on the sensitivity to salinity. The problem is not so much having a coastal garden or not, but the quality of the water. Also depending on how we fertilize we can increase the salinity in the plant, denoting small burns on the tips that warn us that we must change the way we take care of our gardenia.

In summary, we need a very acidic soil that under soil conditions in our garden will be very difficult to maintain if its nature is neutral or alkaline (you already know the buffering capacity of a natural soil). It does not matter if these conditions do not exist in your garden, you can always resort to growing them in pots.


Regarding irrigation,  the outlook is quite reassuring. Its water requirements are medium and general. It requires a medium level of irrigation, which translates into maintaining a normal or standard level of humidity in the substrate or soil of our garden.

As some guides advise, the recommendations range from watering 3 or 4 times a week when it is hot, and at most two waterings a week when it is cold. Of course, on your part you will have to put the amount with which you do it.

The subscriber is very important to ensure a strong and embellishing flowering and also to maintain suitable levels of nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus . Of course, without forgetting iron, so important in this crop.

Many authors establish that the best fertilizer for gardenia is liquid or if it is not liquid, that its solubility with irrigation water is very high (crystalline fertilizers). In this case, in the balance is success, NPK 20-20-20. As we have said previously, returning to the salinity issue , we must moderate the application of fertilizers since burns will appear on the leaves as an effect of a high salinity gradient on the gardenia.


We have a problem with the gardenia . Well, rather it is not a problem if not that we have to use other options than multiplying the gardenia by seed. This is because a very low percentage of these can become fertilized. Instead of trying and trying and, surely, giving blind sticks, the most recommended method of reproduction of this shrub is through cuttings .

Its cutting is a bit special but it is achievable. The stems of no more than 15 cm are arranged with a pair of true leaves. It is important to have them in pots indoors or in a greenhouse, since it requires a controlled humidity (high if possible), warm temperature and lighting control (the less the better).

The most recommended substrate is a mixture of those that we can find in stores, sand and synthetic materials that have a high moisture absorption power such as perlite or vermiculite . Even if we do a little searching, we will find substrates that carry all of these components.

Once the cuttings have been placed in our pot with substrate (temperature, humidity and controlled lighting), we do an important watering at the beginning, with the aim of helping the formation of future roots.

It is not easy as there are many parameters to control. In addition, it must be borne in mind that it takes more than a year to have a plant with its flower formation. If it stresses us a lot, we can always resort to acquiring the already formed plant.


With the cultivation of gardenias in pots inside our house we have it much easier to guarantee that no disorders, pests or diseases appear. Among the first of the problems, the disorders, let us remember the excesses of salts that burn the plant and the deficiencies of highly mobile minerals in acid soils (such as iron and its iron chlorosis).

The environmental excesses , this is very hot and dry days (remember that need high humidities, the Rubiaceae have tropical origins) are produced falls flower buds.

As for pests and diseases there are some of them that we all know, aphids  (very common in indoor plants), spiders (they will weave a web on the leaves, and if they are left, the whole plant), mealybugs (cottony, that forms a white tissue on the leaves and stems), powdery mildew as a disease (a whitish powder deposited on the leaves of the gardenia), Botrytis , very typical when the humidity is high and some bacteria of great importance ( Pseudomonas and Xanthomonas ) that cause circular spots on the leaves of the plant, similar to those of someone having put out a cigarette on the leaves themselves.

Now, we have to take great advantage of the fragrant and prestigious flowers that the gardenia produces. We can enjoy them on the plant itself (whether it is arranged in the garden or in pots), or we can use cut flowers.  In that article we discussed some tricks to increase the viability time of a cut flower.

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