Gardenia

Gardenia

©Darlene B. Durham 2014

Gardenia, flower, TGO Nature Center

Gardenia Flower

 

It’s May at The Great Outdoors and if you have been riding around TGO in your golf cart, riding your bicycle, walking or had the windows open in your vehicle, you may have noticed a lovely fragrance coming from beautiful white flowers on a dense bush.  Do you know what kind of flower they are?  They are gardenias and they are in full bloom.  They are prolific bloomers this year.   We have two large gardenia bushes close to the front door and their aroma greets you  as you walk up to the front door.

Gardenias are a popular flowering shrub at TGO.  Gardenias can be used as a focal plant, hedge, or ground cover depending on their size and form.  For a dramatic effect, do a mass planting of these beautiful flowering plants. You will be rewarded at blooming time.  I have even seen some gardenias trained and trimmed in the shape of a small tree.   Gardenias can also be grown in containers.

Gardenias are evergreen shrubs and can range in size from 2 – 15 feet tall depending on the cultivar.  Check with a nursery on the best variety for your yard depending on size shrub you want and the variety which best suits our growing conditions. Rockledge Gardens on U.S. 1 would be a good place to start for advice.

According to the University of Florida (UF) IFAS Extension, gardenias have been grown for centuries.  Here is a brief history I obtained from UF.

“Gardenia originated in China, where the Chinese cultivated the plant for more than 1,000 years.  In 1761 British naturalist John Ellis received a specimen of this plant from China and named the plant after his friend Dr. Alexander Garden, a noted botanist and physician in Charleston, South Carolina.

Due to the gardenia flower’s elegant form, pure-white color and fragrance, gardenias soon became immensely popular in both Europe and in the British colonies in North America.  In the 1920s and 1930s, gardenias became highly prized as a cut flower for corsages and arrangement.  Today gardenias are a favorite shrub in the Florida landscape and are acclaimed for their creamy-white blossoms and unique fragrance of vanilla, jasmine, and nutmeg, a fragrance that becomes spicier as the gardenia blooms age.”

For optimal gardenia flower production, the plants should be located in an area of full sun or partial shade.  Flower production will be compromised if the plants are located in an area of prolonged shade.

In Florida, gardenias can grow in a variety of soil conditions; however, they will do best in well drained soil planted with organic matter such as compost, peat moss or manures which improves the nutrient and moisture holding capacity.  Gardenias are not salt tolerant so they will not do well in coastal areas.  The plants prefer an acidic soil pH between 5.0 and 6.5.

For the best growth and flowering results, gardenias should be fertilized two to three times a year.  For established plants in Central Florida, apply fertilizer in March and a second application in October.   A third application can be applied in the summer.

Gardenias should be only lightly pruned to maintain the desired shape and to remove dead branches.  The best time to prune a gardenia is just after it finishes blooming which will allow new growth to reach a length of four to six inches long by October 1.  If pruning is done after October 1, next year’s blooms will not be as prolific.  Young gardenia plants grow quickly their first year.  The plants can be pinched back in June and August to promote heavy branching.

Unfortunately, gardenias can be susceptible to pests and diseases.  Pests include aphids, mealybugs, scales, spider mites, thrips and whiteflies.  Diseases include sooty mold and stem canker.  Examine your gardenias on a regular basis and treat any problem areas early for the best results.

For a beautiful flowering addition to your yard, try planting at least one gardenia bush.  Plant it near a window or door to enjoy its fragrance upon approaching the front door or when you have a window open.  Try cutting a few gardenia flowers and place in a bowl of water to bring the fragrance inside your home.

 

TGO Nature Center, nature, bush, gardenia, plant, flower, white

Gardenia Bush

 

The above photo shows a closer look at the leaves of a gardenia bush.

 

TGO Nature Center, nature, plant, flower, gardenia, Mother's Day

Mother’s Day 2014

 

Beginning a couple of days before Mother’s Day in 2014, as you exited the TGO Nature Center property at the stop sign, you were greeted by a sign across the street which had clippers attached to it next to a gardenia bush.  The sign read “Please cut flowers for your house.  Happy Mother’s Day”.  Click on the image to enlarge it to better see the sign.

 

 

TGO Nature Center – “Living in Harmony with Nature

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