The fragrant beauty of the South, gardenias are commonly seen in Florida landscapes. Also known as cape jasmine, the gardenia augusta are native to southern China, Japan, and Taiwan. They are considered often for use in the yards for their outstanding white flowers, fragrance, and deep green foliage. They can be grown as standards (see photo), large shrubs, and as groundcovers with the gardenia radicans.
Gardenias can be easy to grow in the right conditions or persnickety and sickly looking with neglect. They can be grown in shade, or morning sun and afternoon shade. Gardenias are acid-loving plants, so provide acidic soil of 5.0 pH, and rich organic soil that is well drained. Consistant (not too much) watering is important because gardenias do not like extreme fluctuations in care. Fertilize gardenias with azalea slow-release fertilizers.
When stressed, gardenias are susceptible to many pest problems, such as white flies and nutritional deficiencies.
But don't let that hold you back from planting this traditional Southern gem. If you have the right conditions, the gardenia makes a wonderful hedge, a cutting garden flower, or a night-time star in your garden.
For more information on specific pest problems and propagation: