Anyone who has planted a gardenia knows they are one of the most fragrant plants for the landscape. They also know they take a little care to remain attractive.
Good gardenia culture starts with a grafted plant. Gardenias on their own roots are very susceptible to nematodes and it would be only a matter of time in Florida soils before they declined. The special root stock which is a gardenia relative is resistant to the root affecting pests.
When you have made your selection, add the plant to a full sun or lightly shaded location. Good soil preparation is recommended to stretch the time between waterings. Gardenias need a constantly moist soil to prevent leaf drop. Work in plenty of peat moss, compost and manures with the soil and add the new plant to the landscape.
Now you have to begin a care program that determines how well the gardenia grows and flowers in your yard. Keep the soil moist especially during the establishment period. Water sandy soils every day to keep the ground moist.
As the roots begin to grow into the surrounding soil you can reduce the waterings to every 3 to 4 days. Good watering is especially important during periods of drought.
Gardenias are heavy feeders. Feed new plants lightly with a general garden fertilizer every 6 to 8 weeks. Established plantings need feedings in March, May, August and October. You can select from a 6-6-6, 10-10-10, 16-4-8, 20-20-20 or similar product. Just follow the label instructions. Feeding can also be performed with the new time released fertilizers following schedules and rates on the labels