Seasonal information: Flowering occurs mid-spring to mid-summer and the Frost Proof Gardenia is strongly scented.
Location: Frost Proof Gardenias are prized for the strong sweet scent of their flowers, which grow to be very large. The Frost Proof Gardenia was first cultivated as a house plant. Gardenias usually demand high humidity to thrive, and bright (not direct) light. They flourish in acidic soils with good drainage and thrive in 68-74 F temperatures during the day and 60 F in the evening. The benefit of a frost proof gardenia is in its name – they have been bred to adapt well to cooler climates.
Planting instructions: To plant, dig a hole no deeper than the root ball and two to three times the width of the root ball and fill it with water. If the hole drains within a few hours, you have good drainage. If the water is still standing 12 hours later, improve the drainage in your bed, perhaps by establishing a raised bed. Turn and break up the soil removed from the planting hole. Mix some organic compost if the native soil is clay or compacted soil. Remove your plant from its container and carefully, but firmly loosen the root ball. Set the Frost Proof Gardenia into the hole you’ve prepared, making sure the top of the root ball is slightly above the soil level. Pull your backfill soil mixture around the root ball in the hole, tamping as you go to remove air pockets. Then water thoroughly and cover with a two to four inch layer of mulch.
Watering: Be sure to keep your Frost Proof Gardenia moist but not soggy. Do not let it dry out between waterings. This stresses the plant. You can rely upon natural rainfall, but use a rain gauge to measure the rain your gardenia receives; if it is less than an inch per week, supplement it with water from the hose or from a watering can.
Fertilization: Feed the Frost Proof Gardenia biweekly with nonalkaline fertilizer. A teaspoon of agricultural sulfur in the soil may help lower soil Ph. Fertilize gardenias after they’ve bloomed with a well-balanced shrub & tree type fertilizer. If the foliage on your gardenia develops yellowing of leaves due to soil that is too alkaline, you can apply additional amounts of chelated iron and/or soil sulfur to lower soil pH, making it more acidic.
Weed Control: Applying a two to four inch layer of organic mulch will help retain Frost Proof Gardenia’s moisture during this time and will also help to keep down the weeds.
Pests and Disease: One of the biggest problems for Frost Proof Gardenia are the pests that plague them. The major pests to watch for include: Aphids, Mealy Bugs, Scale, Root Nematodes, Spider Mites and Whiteflies but all are treatable with pesticides.
Pruning: Frost Proof Gardenias require no pruning. To maintain shape, prune in late winter before new growth emerges. Cut with hand pruners, and not powered trimmers, to avoid scarring leaves.