Indoor plants

Gardenia, how to grow

When to water the gardenia

Gardenia is an evergreen plant native to the tropical regions of Asia and belongs to the Rubiaceae family, the same as the coffee plant. The family includes many species and those cultivated as domestic ornamental plants are the gardenia jasminoides and the gardenia grandiflora. They are very common plants that are found both in the garden and in the pots on the balcony, because they give off an intense scent and are very ornamental. The ideal soil for all gardenia species is well drained, very rich in nutrients and compost. The water needs are different depending on the time of year and the sun exposure; in summer the plant must be watered every day by spraying the leaves with the special sprayer, making sure that the soil remains very humid but not soaked with water. As with all flowering plants, water stagnation is deleterious and it must never be allowed to come out of the bottom of the pot. In the garden it takes a lot of water every day in summer and little in winter, up to not watering at all in the colder months. In winter, the earth must only be moistened when it is dry, do not spray it and repair it from frost.

Cultivation in pots and in the garden

Gardenia grows well both in pots and in the garden and the thing it fears most is frost. In winter it must be repaired and in the garden its ideal location is behind a low wall, so that it is not hit directly by the wind. This flower cannot even stand water stagnation and in the vase the first layer must be made of expanded clay or stones, so that the water flows well from the roots which, if soaked, could rot. The earth must be soft and rich in fertilizer, to be used especially in summer when it is in bloom. The cultivation of gardenia can start from the seed, which must be planted in autumn in a fertilized soil. The ready-made seedlings are sold in spring and can be placed in the garden or in pots starting from February, to have a beautiful flowering all summer. It must be considered that the plants in the greenhouse are made to bloom in advance and it will take some time for them to adapt to the new location. If the temperature difference is excessive, the plant could die or not vegetate at all. To keep the plants well, they must be pruned and you must always check for any fungi or pests.

Fertilize gardenia

In addition to very frequent watering during flowering, the right soil is very important to keep the gardenia in excellent health. The white and fragrant flowers are wonderful and grow at the apex of the branches and the leaves, of an intense green color, must be moistened often to become more luxuriant. The gardenia can reach two meters in height and should be pruned regularly to allow new shoots to emerge. The plant should be potted or buried at the beginning of spring in an acid and very light compound formed by equal proportions of soil and peat; on the market there are ready-made soils that also contain sand and bits of coal. The special fertilizer for gardenias must be diluted in irrigation water and administered every 15 days from early spring to summer and every two months in autumn and winter. Both the soil and the fertilizer which must be specific for acidophilic plants, rich in phosphorus, potassium, nitrogen, zinc and iron; the newly bought seedlings are already fertilized and you don’t have to give anything for at least a month.

Gardenia, how to grow: Exposure and diseases

The main enemy of this splendid flower is the cold climate and in particular the temperature variations. As soon as you leave the greenhouses, the plants must be buried in an area sheltered from the wind because they will need some time to adjust to the new temperature. Gardenia thrives well in regions with a mild, temperate climate and tolerates temperatures close to freezing, but not too far below. Plants can also be grown indoors, ensuring a constant temperature of 18 °, always trying to avoid direct sun. The most common disease of gardenia is cochineal, which is recognized by the spotted leaves on the underside. If the insects are not too many, just remove them with an alcohol wipe, then rinse with running water; if the plant is completely infested it is necessary to use professional products available in shops. When the leaves begin to turn yellow and curl, the plant has most likely been attacked by the red spider, which can be seen by closely observing the leaves, sprinkled with very thin cobwebs. If the infestation is not serious, it is enough to spray the leaves a lot to make the spiders disappear.

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