Named after a South Carolina colonial physician, gardenias are in the Rubiaceae family and are native to China and Japan. Gardenias are a popular landscaping plant in the south, and make a wonderful addition to any Texas garden. If they are planted in full sun, gardenias can grow up to 6 feet. Gardenias prefer temperatures between 68 and 74 degrees F, and they enjoy high humidity areas, but dry climates can support gardenias if the plants are regularly watered.
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Dig a hole that is the depth of the root ball and twice as wide.
Place the plant in the hole, but keep the crown a little above the top of the hole.
Add half of the soil back into the hole and push the soil around the plant and into the ground, to eliminate air pockets.
Water the hole very well and let the water drain completely away from the hole.
Fill the rest of the hole with the remaining soil and tamp it down to eliminate air holes.
Water the plant thoroughly.
Water gardenias once per week. At least 1 inch of water is required each week.
Add 2 to 4 inches of mulch to keep the soil moist, but keep the mulch away from the stem of the plant.
Fertilize gardenias once per month during the spring and summer and once in February and September.
Prune gardenias after they are done flowering, but before October.
In Texas, in order to prevent overheating, gardenias should be planted in partial shade. Be sure to choose the proper variety for your location and USDA hardiness zone, which will range between 6 and 11.
Gardenias are not cold tolerant, and if the temperature drops below freezing, gardenias will lose their leaves and flowers. Nutrient deficiencies also cause yellowing leaves, and the soil may need iron to return the pH to between 5.0 and 6.0. Gardenias that wilt and die rapidly have been infected by nematodes, according to Herself's Houston Garden, a regional gardening website. Gardenias can be attacked by mealy bugs, white flies and several other pests, so be sure to check for them periodically. Diseases like canker, bacterial leaf spot, bud drop, sooty mold and others also attack gardenias, so keep the plant healthy and watch for disease.