Gardenias are medium-sized evergreen shrubs, belonging to the same family of coffee, the Rubiacee; they are plants originating from the Australian continent, from Asia and southern Africa, and there are about two hundred species of gardenia. In Italy the most cultivated species is the gardenia jasminoides, native to China, in the nurseries are also widespread hybrids of this shrub, particularly suitable for cultivation in apartments or vice versa in the garden. In nature these plants grow in wet areas, with fairly mild climates, so they are commonly grown as houseplants. If cultivated in pots they develop small roundish shrubs, no higher than 50-60 cm, with a beautiful glossy and leathery foliage, of dark green color; in spring, continuing until late summer, they produce innumerable large fleshy buds, from which bloom large white or cream flowers, intensely scented.
The gardenia is grown with great satisfaction in interiors, but in our country, especially in the Center-South and along the coasts, it finds climates and locations also suitable for its growth outdoors, in the open ground. It thus becomes ideal to create magnificent evergreen hedges, also endowed with a splendid and fragrant flowering.
This essence undoubtedly requires experience and suitable land, but it is able to give great satisfaction to those who decide to devote themselves to its cultivation.
Grow gardenias in the apartment
These beautiful flowers are sold in flower practically all year long; in nature, however, gardenias only bloom during the warm season, with a warm climate. Plants purchased in flower nurseries, also for example during the month of February-March, are generally forced to bloom, ie they are kept in greenhouses with daytime temperature and lighting similar to those of a beautiful June day. For this reason it often happens that our gardenia jasminoides, in the space of a few weeks, loses flowers and buds, tends to ruin itself and seems to stop its development completely.
When we buy a gardenia we try to remember that we will almost certainly make it suffer a strong change, from the warm, bright and humid nursery to the apartment: warm, dry and quite dark. For this reason, don't worry if some flowers or buds fall, it is more important to try to adapt the plant to the house; within a few weeks it will resume flowering without problems.
So as soon as we bring our own home gardenia jasminoides let's place it in a fairly bright place, not directly exposed to sunlight, but not too far from a well-lit window. In addition to the light, the element that most differentiates a home from a nursery or garden is certainly the environmental humidity, or at least, it is the characteristic that most influences the development of our plants.
Gardenias love climates that are not too hot and humid, and good air exchange. We remember therefore to place the plant where it has a good air exchange, possibly in a room that we ventilate daily; furthermore we avoid placing it near direct heat sources and every day we vaporize the leaves with demineralized water, to increase the environmental humidity. During vaporisations we avoid wetting flowers, which would otherwise quickly turn brown and wither.
GARDENIA IN BRIEF
Family, genus, species
Rubiaceae, Gardenia, about 60 species
|Type of plant||Shrub or small tree|
|Height||1 meter in pot; 2-3 meters in the open ground|
|Rusticitа||From fragile to medium rustic (some withstand -12 ° C, others do not tolerate frost)|
|Exposure||Half shade, bright shadow; very bright in the apartment|
|Ground||Woodland + sand + little field soil, well drained|
|pH||From neutral to acid|
|Irrigation||Frequent, without stagnation; demineralized or rainwater|
|Ideal temperature for flowering||18 ° C|
|Avversitа||Aphids, cochineals, root rot, gray mold|
Grow a gardenia in the garden
Some species and varieties of gardenia can easily withstand frost, especially those of Asian origin. We can therefore decide to put our gardenia in the garden, in a partially shaded place, and protected from too intense frost and the winter wind. Also in this case we try to get a gardenia that has been cultivated specifically for the garden, especially if we don't buy it during a hot period of the year; in fact a gardenia in bloom in February has certainly been cultivated in the heat, and it is unlikely that it can be placed outdoors immediately, with a harsh climate. So if we want to plant our gardenia in the garden, let's do it preferably in a time of year with a mild climate, or gradually adapt it to outdoor life, to put it permanently home only when every danger of frost has passed. Once planted and rooted the plant can withstand up to -7 / -8 ° C, in any case we provide to cover it during the winter if the temperatures are very low.
Origins and characteristics of the Gardenia
The genus Gardenia takes its name from a Scottish naturalist, Alexander Garden, to whom it was dedicated. It belongs to the Rubiaceae family and includes about 60 widespread species, in the spontaneous state, in the tropical and equatorial areas of the planet. The most widespread in our continent, the Gardenia Jasminoides, is native to China, Japan and Oceania and was introduced by us in the mid-1700s. In Italy, however, the grandiflora and the Fortuniana are also widespread (the latter being more suitable to outdoor cultivation).
They are generally slow growing shrubs, from 1.5 m up to more than 3. The evergreen leaves are lanceolate-elliptic, thinned at the apex and at the base, of a beautiful glossy dark green, quite consistent. The flowers are mostly solitary, simple or double, white or pink, with a very intense aroma. Their production is in almost the right conditions, but much depends on the species. On the market you can find specimens in bloom even in winter, as it tolerates forcing well.
Soil and watering
Gardenias develop a root system that is not too wide, which generally tends not to sink too much into the ground, but rather widens near the surface; for this reason the roots of gardenias suffer very much from humidity. To have a shrub that is always healthy and lush, it is advisable to keep the soil moist for most of the year, from March to October; avoiding excessively soaking the substrate.
We use good soil for acidophilic plants, mixed with a small amount of sand or pumice stone, to better aerate the substrate and increase its drainage.
Watering is practiced every time the earth appears dry; in the garden, gardenias are generally watered every 3-4 days, but only during the summer and far from periods of rain; avoiding winter watering. To prevent the soil from drying excessively, remember to practice good mulching at the foot of the shrub, using bark or lapillus, so as to keep the surface layer of the soil always fresh and moist, and also avoiding the development of weeds.
During the cold months the watering in the apartment will be only sporadic.
From April to September we mix a good fertilizer for flowering plants with the water, and periodically perform a soothing treatment, especially if the foliage tends to turn yellow.
THE CALENDAR OF THE GARDENIA
From May to October
|Talea||Spring (with temperatures from 18 to 20 ° C)|
|Sowing||Spring-summer (with temperatures from 19 to 24 ° C)|