What Kind of Food Do Gardenia Plants Need?

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A gardenia plant is beautiful but high maintenance.
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Gardenias are well known for the beautiful cream hue of the blooms as well as a powerful, intoxicating fragrance. To maintain the healthy appearance of the blooms and the shine of the dark green leaves, proper care is required. While the gardenia is not a particularly simple plant to grow, the appropriate food makes the task of growing gardenias a bit less daunting.

Food for Gardenias

These plants must be appropriately nourished.
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To produce beautiful, healthy gardenias, the gardener must nourish the plant appropriately. Although the preferred food is dependent on the gardener, acidic plant foods, such as rhododendron azalea food mixes and fish emulsion fertilizers, are commonly favored for these delicate plants.

Acidic Plant Foods

Inquire about plant foods at a nursery.
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A variety of acidic rhododendron azalea foods are sold commercially. Miracid Acid-Loving Plant Food is a food that feeds plants both through the leaves and the roots. This popular food contains a great deal of iron and other nutrients necessary for the health of gardenia plants. Miracid is available exclusively at official Miracle-Gro nurseries. Inquire with any nursery to learn of the options available to produce healthy gardenia plants with large blooms.

Fish Emulsion Fertilizers

Fish emulsion may be made from cooked fish.
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A fish emulsion is created when fish is cooked and pressed to release oils then added to by-products that have been boiled down. Because of its naturally acidic qualities and since nutrients are released immediately after application, many gardeners prefer a fish emulsion to fertilize gardenia plants. Those gardeners who favor organic compounds often choose to use a fish emulsion fertilizer.

Homemade Gardenia Solution

White vinegar may be added to the plants water.
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A common difficulty with gardenia maintenance is hard water. Add 1 cup of white distilled vinegar to a gallon of water and feed to the gardenia plant every three weeks. Iron will be released into the soil with the addition of the extra acid from the vinegar.

When to Feed Gardenias

If the plant begins to droop it may need less feeding.
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Begin to feed gardenias in mid-March and continue every three weeks. Since feeding makes the sensitive gardenia plant more susceptible to cold winter weather, cease feeding the plant in the fall. In colder climates, feeding may cease as early as September. If the buds of the flower droop, the plant is signaling that it requires feeding less often.

Other Crucial Elements

Gardenia plants thrive in full sun but may need occaisional shade.
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Since a gardenia is affected greatly by the type of soil in which it is planted, the suggested soil is acidic. A nursery can suggest a soil with the correct pH. The amount of water absorbed by the plant is also imperative. The soil must remain moist at all times, but never soggy. If the soil dries out or the leaves begin to pale, water immediately. Gardenia plants thrive in full sun, but necessitate some shade throughout the summer in extremely hot climates.

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Andrea Drinkard

Andrea Drinkard began writing in 2005, specializing in proper nutrition, and disease and treatment articles. She has been featured in "Cosmopolitan" magazine. Drinkard holds Bachelors of Science in biology and kinesiology from the University of Alabama.