young gardenia plant is looking very sad. I wanted it to grow in
a pot by the front door so when it flowered there was a nice fragrance.
It is in a large pot, but should I plant it in the garden? I even
buried banana skins in the dirt around it as I heard they are good
for gardenias. Can you help?
make good container plants and, as long as you provide the necessities
of life, you should be able to have one by your front door.
Firstly, they need good
light. They don't do so well in deep shade, and full hot sun is
also tough on them - dappled or light shade is ideal or shade for
part of the day with some full sun. They also need a warm spot,
sheltered from any chance of frost damage. Following our unusually
frosty winter there are a few sorry-looking gardenias in some gardens,
but most will recover.
Gardenias also need a
potting mix formulated for acid-loving plants which you will be
able to get from the local garden store. If the soil your plant
is in is low in nutrients and you're not giving any supplementary
feeding, say with a liquid fertiliser, then it may suffer from iron
deficiency. The symptoms of this common gardenia problem are slow
growth, few flower buds and yellowing leaves. Fortunately, it is
relatively easy to cure using a solution of iron sulphate or one
of the chelated iron products available in most garden stores. Follow
the instructions and apply two or three times during the growing
season if necessary.
Banana skins are a source
of potassium, which is useful to all plants, and while they won't
harm your gardenia they won't cure iron deficiency.
Like all container plants,
gardenias also need regular watering in summer and, to encourage
new growth and flower buds, I suggest you feed it regularly during
spring and summer with a liquid fertiliser or apply a 6-9 month
slowrelease fertiliser in spring.
Gardener, Issue 205, 2006, Page 33
Reproduced with permission from the former Weekend Gardener magazine. The views expressed here are not necessarily those of the RNZIH.