How To Care For Your Gardenia In The Winter

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How To Care For Your Gardenia In The Winter

Gardenias are white-flowered plants with a pleasing fragrance that have been used as symbols of secret love since the Victorian era. These days, they are commonly seen in public displays of love, such as bridal bouquets and wedding decorations. Gardenias are a favorite amongst gardeners and brides due to their alluring beauty. During summer, they are a sight to behold, but require extra care during the winter months, especially in cold regions. To winterize gardenias, cover them with cloth or bring them indoors if they are in containers.

Gardenias are tropical plants that thrive best in zones 8 to 11, where the summers are warm and the winters are mild. When the temperature drops below 15 degrees Fahrenheit, your gardenia shrub is likely to experience winter and frost damage unless it is protected and cared for. While some cold-hardy varieties can withstand the harsh winters of zones 6 and 7, such as the Belmont and Scent Amazing, it is recommended to plant these shrubs in pots so that they can be moved indoors when the temperature approaches freezing.

Wintering lawn-planted gardenia

Covering gardenia with cloth

eHow/YouTube

Gardenia’s winter gardening care entails late summer planning — mostly pruning. Once the flowering season ends, it’s ideal to deadhead them, meaning removing all dead blooms and damaged stems. Under no circumstances should gardenia be cut back during cold temperatures, as you may destroy the new buds and hurt the oncoming spring growth. Next, apply a mulch layer to the evergreen plant’s roots for added protection during the winter. Also, avoid watering your plant unless the soil feels dry to the touch.

Ideally, monitor for weather changes and wrap your coveted plant with frost cloth, an old blanket, or a big bucket if it’s exposed to cold drafts. Pin the cloth down with rocks if required. Alternatively, you can shelter your leafy friend in a cardboard box. This will minimize contact with frost, but also prevent your plant’s stems from breaking down under the weight of snow (if it snows in your region). But if your gardenia still suffers frost damage, trim the dead branches once spring arrives.

Potted gardenia winter care

Gardenia plants growing in pots

skywing/Shutterstock

For winterizing potted white beauties planted in hardy zones 8 to 11, there isn’t much you need to do. Simply cover the plant with plastic bubble wrap when the cold season hits to protect your plants from frost damage. But if you live in cool climates, it’s better to bring the shrubs back inside and insulate them right when temperatures dip below 60 degrees Fahrenheit at night. This will aid them in adapting to indoor temperatures. However, ensure your plants aren’t infested with pests like whiteflies and aphids before moving them indoors.

As they’re finicky about their growth environment, you’ll need to take extra care of gardenias during the winter when they’re dormant. Place them in spots receiving at least four hours of sun. Also, ensure the soil is damp. For this, you can occasionally deeply water the roots whenever the soil feels dry and drain the rest. Further, use a humidifier, mist the plants, or place the pot on a pebble tray to maintain the necessary moisture levels. Don’t forget to apply a slow-release fertilizer to its base.

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Dr Heidi Parkes

By Dr Heidi Parkes

Senior Information Extension Officer QLD Dept of Agriculture & Fisheries.