Gardenia Guide: How to Care for Gardenia Plants - Backyard Boss
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Gardenia Guide: How to Care for Gardenia Plants

Your garden needs some gardenias. These brilliant white blossoms look absolutely gorgeous in contrast with the dark green leaves that frame them. The scent they emit is heavenly, making those who smell it feel immediately more relaxed. The only problem with these flowers is that if you don’t know how to care for them they can be very hard to grow. Lucky for you, this comprehensive guide covers how to grow gardenias, including everything you could possibly need to know to help your gardenias flourish.

Gardenia Details

Gardenia spp.

Ease of Care: Difficult
Light: Bright Light
Water: Frequent Waterings
Temperature: Above 60 F
Height: 2 – 8 feet tall
Growth Rate: Medium
Pests: Vulnerable
Diseases: Vulnerable
Toxicity: Toxic to pets

Gardenia Benefits

gardenia tea aromatherapy in bowl with tealight candleThese flowers are not just a pretty face, they also have numerous amazing health benefits that you can experience through gardenia essential oils, or consuming gardenias in tea or capsules. Due to their astonishingly high antioxidant levels, and the 20+ beneficial active compounds within them, gardenias can have an incredible impact on your mental and physical health.

Fights Inflammation and Infections

Between their extremely high antioxidant levels, and the two active compounds, geniposide and genipin, gardenias deliver a one-two punch to bodily inflammation. Gardenias also contain antibacterial and antiviral compounds that fight infections in your body. Considering inhaling gardenia essential oils or drinking gardenia tea the next time you get sick.

Boosts Your Mood

Just smelling gardenia flowers can automatically make you feel more relaxed. Go smell your gardenia plant, or essential oils, to immediately destress. Gardenias have been proven to help fight against the symptoms of anxiety and depression, triggering the release of relaxing and happy chemicals in your brain.

Soothes Digestive Troubles

Two active compounds in gardenias, ursolic acid, and genipin, have anti gastric and acid-neutralizing capabilities which can help individuals who are suffering from gastric problems. Genipin helps your body produce certain enzymes that break down fat, supporting digestive processes.

How to Make Gardenia Tea

You can turn these wonderful, edible flowers, into a delicious tea. Simply pick your flowers when they are in bloom, preferably after you have had some time to enjoy them. Then, place them on a tray in a sunny and dry spot and turn them twice a day until they fully dry out.

Once they are fully dried out, put them in a tea bag or tea strainer and pour boiling hot water over them. Allow it to steep for five minutes and then enjoy your delicious tea! It will have a subtle, sweet taste and a delicious scent.

Pro Tip: You can add other herbs to your tea to jazz up the flavor. Try adding rosemary or thyme!

Outdoor Gardenia Care

Gardenias can be difficult to care for however their beautiful blooms and sumptuous scent makes the extra maintenance effort so worth it. You can grow gardenias outdoors if you live in USDA Plant Hardiness Zones 8 – 11 and indoors if you live anywhere else.

These fragile flowers are extremely sensitive to the cold so you should not only take into account being in the right grow zones, but also if your area has a chance of experiencing any severe winter weather at all. If you think there might be a chance of very cold weather in your area grow your gardenias in a pot so you can keep them outside when the weather is nice and easily move them inside when it is not.

outdoor gardenia single bloom dwarf variety

Plant your gardenias outside in the fall or spring in moist, well-drained, slightly acidic soil in a spot with partial shade.

Water your gardenias regularly even after the plant stops producing blooms. Prune your gardenia bush after flowering removing dead and dying branches and blooms, and sculpting for shape.

The healthier your gardenias are the more likely they will be able to withstand winter weather.

Indoor Gardenia Care

Gardenias make wonderful house plants. Growing them in a container gives you the flexibility to grow them year-round in any climate and even sometimes move them outdoors if the weather is appropriate.


blooming gardenia indoors in growpotYour gardenias will require bright light indoors so keep them on a windowsill in a southern-facing window. In the winter if you are in an area with not much light you may need to supplement your gardenias with a grow light.


When the top inch of soil dries out water your gardenias. The soil should be kept moist but should not have standing water.


Use a fertilizer for acid-loving plants. In the spring and summer fertilize your gardenias on a monthly basis. You do not need to fertilize in the fall or winter.

Temperature & Humidity

The temperature should be 65 – 75 F in your home for gardenias to thrive. They love warm days and cooler nights. The temperature should not regularly dip below 60 F or they may suffer.

Your gardenias need humidity. This can be done through grouping plants together, leaving a bowl of water next to your gardenias on the window sill, or using a pebble tray. Do not mist your gardenias, because that may result in fungal spots.


Use a non-alkaline soil mix, that is well-drained and slightly acidic. You can use a standard potting mix and then use an acidic fertilizer.

Pruning Your Gardenias

To keep your gardenia healthy and a good size you should regularly prune it at least once every couple of years.

Prune your gardenia right after its summer blooms have faded because the new buds for next year will start appearing in the fall and you don’t want to cut those. However, some gardenias are on different growth cycles so make sure to check up on that before pruning.

Just prune enough to help your gardenia keep its appropriate shape. Make sure that your use sharp and clean shears when pruning your gardenia to prevent your shrub from contracting diseases. You can prune the green or brown wood, despite what some sources will try to tell you, because both will sprout buds.

indoor gardenia in planter no blooms pruned


You can use gardenia cuttings to propagate a new plant! The cuttings should be taken from the tip of a branch and be at least 5 inches long. Remove the leaves from the bottom of the cutting only allowing the top two sets to remain.

Fill a pot half with one-third peat moss, one-third potting soil, and one-third sand. Dampen the mixture with water and then stick your finger in it to make a hole. Dip the cut end of the gardenia cutting in rooting hormone and place it in the hole.

Fill around the gardenia with the soil mixture and then allow it to sit in a spot with bright, indirect light. Keep the soil mixture damp but never soak it. You should maintain humidity around it to ensure that it actually develops roots.

To create humidity, consider covering the pot with a clear plastic bag, avoiding touching the gardenia cutting.

In 4-8 weeks your cutting should develop roots. Once it does you can move it to a bigger pot or your outdoor garden!

Gardenia Varieties

There are over 250 gardenia varieties to choose from. To help you weed through them, below are descriptions of the five most popular and beautiful gardenia varieties.

gardenia varieties Aimee Yoshioka and First Love
CREDIT: Kartuz, DG Nursery

Aimee Yashioka

These classic gardenias have an intensely beautiful scent and gorgeous white double blooms. The blooms are big, reaching 4-5 inches long. You will get to enjoy these show-stopping blooms twice during growing season. Resilient and fast-growing, this variety can reach 12 feet across.

First Love

These flowers could be your first love when it comes to gardenia growing. This compact grower only reaches 5 feet high and 3 feet wide which makes it an excellent option for indoor growing. Although its shrub size is small its blooms are not, being some of the largest of any gardenia variety.

gardenia varieties august beauty and dwarf radicans
CREDIT: Brighter Blooms, The Tree Center


This is another compact grower that only reaches about 2 – 3 feet in height. Its foliage mirrors its small size, only producing blooms that are 2-3 inches across and single petaled. The fragrance

it emits is absolutely delicious, and worth the wait, since this slow-growing variety tends to bloom later in the growing season. Because of this, it’s perfect to pair with early blooming varieties.

August Beauty

August beauty produces striking double flowers that can be up to 3 inches across. This is an extremely popular variety because of its gorgeous flowers when it’s in bloom, and elegant, glossy foliage when it’s not. This shrub is not a compact grower, reaching heights of up to 6 feet tall, so it could be better for your outdoor garden. If you live in a cold area, this is one of the most cold-hardy varieties, withstanding temperatures in Zone 7.

gardenia varieties belmont and mystery
CREDIT: Gardener Direct, Southwest Nursery


This shrub is medium-sized so it is well-suited for indoor or outdoor growing. It has some resilience so it can endure colder temperatures in Zone 8. The fragrance it produces is positively euphoric and it has dark glossy foliage that is absolutely striking. Setting it apart from other gardenias, this bush produces flowers from spring through fall.

gardenia varieties firtuniana and golden magic
CREDIT: Jardines de la Patagonia,

Where to Buy Gardenias

You can buy gardenias from your local nursery or online.

Amazon is an excellent online option. They have several varieties and sizes of gardenia on offer.

    Perfect Plants Frostproof Gardenia

Buy at Amazon
    When it comes to adding fragrance to your lawn, go with the Frostproof gardenia. This beauty has bright white blooms that won’t only add a great look to your garden, but the aroma they give off is S to none! Another great quality of the Frostproof gardenia is the versatility of the plant! Due to its style of growth, there are many different uses for this plant. Whether used as a border plant, a low hedge, or as an accent in a garden to enhance the scent of the area, The possibilities with this gardenia are endless, so get yours today!

    Southern Living Plant Collection Jubilation Gardenia

Buy at Amazon
    The Jubilation allows you to enjoy breathtaking white double blooms with intoxicating rich aromas throughout much of the year! This variety is remarkably easy to maintain once established in your garden or landscape, and is noted for being disease as well as deer resistant. Year after year, youll wonder how you ever lived without the sweet scent of the Jubilation Gardenia.

Common Gardenia Growing Questions

Below are answers to all of the most common gardenia growing questions.

What Growing Problems Can Gardenias Encounter?

Similar to other houseplants, gardenias can suffer from a lack of humidity, overwatering, underwatering, temperature control issues, and light issues. Your plant will tell you if it is having any of these issues by either dropping leaves and buds, having slow growth, or discoloration on its leaves.

Gardenias can be particularly susceptible to pests, which is a risk you take in growing this plant outdoors. In particular, it might be attacked by aphids, spider mites, mealybugs, and whiteflies. To deal with these pests keep an eye on your gardenia and use natural pesticides to ward them off if they do attack.

indoor gardenia in growers pot from above with double blooms

Gardenias are also vulnerable to diseases like powdery mildew, leaf spot, dieback, anthracnose, and sooty mold. To prevent these issues make sure your gardenia plant has proper air circulation around it and be careful when watering. Avoid overwatering and always water the soil of the plant, not soaking its leaves.

What is the Growth Rate of Gardenias?

How fast your gardenia plant will grow really depends on which variety you are growing since some are quicker than others. The size of gardenia flowers also depends on the variety, with lengths ranging from 2 – 5 inches, while the leaves are normally around 1 inch wide for every variety.

When you grow gardenia bushes from seed it can take 2 – 3 years for them to start flowering. That is why it’s recommended you start growing from cuttings or a plant if you are an impatient gardener.

Are Gardenias Poisonous to Pets?

Gardenias definitely do not agree with pets, and if they eat enough of them, they can be poisonous. If you have a small pet they will more quickly be sickened by eating gardenias. If you treat your gardenias with pesticides they will be even more toxic to them. Of course, if you are using pesticides you should also not consume your gardenias.


Now you know everything you could possibly need to know about these stunning flowers. Go get some gardenias and add this classic plant to your garden or home! Although they can be tricky to grow their beauty and fragrance makes it all completely worth it.

I hope you enjoyed this guide! If you did, be sure to share it and comment below with any gardenia questions you may have.