gardenia care

Asked August 3, 2016, 2:39 PM EDT

I have a gardenia tree bought in May 2016 and right now it is blooming beautifully. However, not sure how to keep this 'high maintenance' plant healthy. For example, I've read you should water from the bottom (which I am now doing...with pebbles on bottom), and then another article says to water plant directly. A new read says to mist plant, others say no. Please advise what is best for my gardenia plant...I want her (the plant) to live and thrive! Right now I have her outside in indirect light in DE. Permanent home is in VA on my condo porch. Thanks so much,

Sussex County Delaware

1 Response

Gardenias can be challenging, but so rewarding.
Knowing their likes and needs, while monitoring for pests goes a long way to keeping them happy.
Gardenias are not winter hardy in our area, so plan to either bring it inside to a room with bright light for the winter, or give it to someone who can offer such a circumstance.
You are good with light. They like bright light, but not direct sun, which can scorch leaves.
For watering, we recommend, especially during the summer months,watering gently but freely from the top, enough so that the water flows through to the saucer below. Let it sit in the water and soak up what it wants for 10 to 30 minutes before dumping out excess. They LOVE humidity, and so outside you are fine now, but in the winter to help with humidity, place pebbles in the saucer and sit the plant on top. You can mist spray if you want in winter, but keep water off the flowers, which can spot.
They require less water in the winter when they grow slower.
Apply a fertilizer for acid-loving plants every two weeks from March -September.
You say it is growing in tree form with a long stem we assume? This is not natural and if you want it to stay that way you may need to occasionally clip of sprouts from the trunk.
Keep watch for spider mites (tiny specks that suck plant juices causing a stippling or yellowish spotting injury) and other insects like scale. A good shot with the hose occasionally in the summer or a good shower in the winter with water directed and the underside of leaves and stems is welcome to dislodge pests, clean leaves and increase humidity.