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Darrell Blackwelder column: Gardenias are beginning to bloom

Gardenias are beginning to bloom and their exquisite white, fragrant flowers make these a must for any garden. Try to locate these near an entrance or walkway to experience the sweet, unique fragrance during bloom. The shrub can also adapt as an flowering centerpiece in planters blended with annuals and perennials.

These beautiful scented shrubs are not the easiest shrubs to grow because of their susceptibility to cold weather. However, there are numerous cultivars, too many to list, from nurseries, garden centers and retail outlets that can easily adapt to our climate. The shrub size may range from groundcover type to thick flower-laden shrubs that can grow to four feet in height. The blooms vary from a large double to minute single bloom depending on the cultivar.

Gardenias survive and prosper when planted in filtered or light shade without competition from trees and other shrubs. Gardenias prefer slightly acid, moist, well-drained soil with ample organic matter.

Gardenias appreciate mulch and steady supply of plant food such as azalea fertilizer, fish emulsion or blood meal. These should be applied in late June to extend their blooming period. It is very important not fertilize gardenias in late summer or early fall as late fertilization stimulates tender growth and may be severely damaged if winter temperatures drop below 15 degrees. Irrigation is also essential to keep the plants in good condition for continuous bloom and healthy. Keep the soil evenly moist during hot, dry weather.  Go to https://plants.ces.ncsu.edu/plants/gardenia-jasminoides/ for more detailed information on gardenias.

Darrell Blackwelder is the retired horticulture agent and director with the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service in Rowan County. Contact him at deblackw@ncsu.edu.

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