When Do Gardenias Bloom? Tips, Facts, & FAQ
Gardeners in the south know you can’t earn the rich floral aroma and gorgeous white blooms of gardenia plants without a decent amount of effort. Arriving in summer, gardenia blooms last several weeks before wilting. The long-lasting flowers will be a guaranteed delight when you manage the plants well. And with some extra TLC, you can help them hang around longer than usual!
When Do Gardenias Bloom?
Gardenias typically bloom in late spring or early summer. Some varieties, such as “Four Seasons,” have longer blooming seasons lasting from spring to fall. Other gardenias, such as “August” and “Jubilation,” have two blooming seasons, one in spring and one in the fall.
The buds emerge in early fall as the plant prepares for the following year’s blooms. Grown from seed, a gardenia plant will take at least 2 years to produce flowers, while cuttings will usually start blooming in a year.
How Long Does the Season Last?
When well-maintained, gardenias reward you with creamy white blooms up to 4 inches in diameter, a brilliant highlight against the plant’s lush, glossy green leaves. After emerging from their buds, flowers will hang around for 6–8 weeks before gradually wilting. The bloom period can vary and, depending on the cultivar, may last under 6 weeks or as many as 10.
Deadhead to Extend the Blooming Period
As with many flowering plants, deadheading your gardenias can help you extend the growing season. When the flowers wilt, attractive orange-red seed pods develop, marking the end of the blooming period. You can enjoy the flowers a little longer by clipping the dying blooms before they fruit.
Deadheading before they go to seed will keep your plant looking pretty and redirect its growth efforts toward blooms instead of seeds. Clip wilted flowers above the next leaf section (or lower if desired) to keep leaves at the end of the branch and prevent a naked appearance.
Tips for Vibrant Gardenia Blooms
Gardenias are notoriously finicky plants. Getting buds to set, stay attached, and eventually bloom is a delicate process of ensuring the perfect conditions. Care must be precise and consistent.
Complete control is one reason why gardenias are ideal for container growing. They’re hardy in zones 7–10, so you may be able to plant them outside if the climate allows and you provide the necessary TLC. Deadheading is an excellent way to keep the blooms around longer, but getting them to bloom relies on several variables.
Providing appropriate sunlight can be challenging with gardenias. They rely on ample and consistent light to maintain photosynthesis. At the same time, too much light and heat, particularly in the afternoon sun, can cause the leaves to scald and flowers to die.
Position your containers where they can receive at least 4–6 hours of daily sunlight. Shoot for dappled shade during the hottest hours, ensuring your plants receive enough light to continue photosynthesizing and develop large blooms.
Move your plants away from light sources at night. They need at least 12 hours (ideally 15–18 hours) in the dark for the buds to develop and facilitate blooming.
Water and Humidity
Gardenias thrive in humid environments and well-watered soil. Maintaining adequate moisture prevents bud drop and ensures robust summertime blooms.
The soil must be well-drained to prevent it from getting soggy and suffering root rot. Gardenias typically need about an inch of water every week to keep moist, but you will need to add water more frequently during hotter stretches. If you’re growing them outside, you may be able to reduce the watering schedule as the weather cools and winter approaches.
Checking the top inch of the soil will ensure it stays moist. Bud drop can happen readily from too much water, too little water, or an inconsistent schedule, so you must closely monitor moisture levels. Adding 2–3 inches of mulch around the plant will ease the maintenance demands, helping to retain moisture, manage the temperature, and keep weeds out.
High humidity that mirrors the gardenia’s native growing regions in tropical and subtropical Asia and Africa will improve your chances of healthy blooms. Maintain humidity by placing your container on a tray filled with water and gravel/pebbles. Landscaped gardenias typically receive enough moisture from early morning dew.
Planting and Fertilizing
Gardenias don’t handle movement well, so avoid transplanting as much as possible. Find an appropriate forever home for your plant outside where it won’t compete for soil nutrients with other plants or have problems from runoff.
Use an acid-based fertilizer to keep the soil in the 5.0–6.0 pH sweet spot, focusing on high nitrogen and potassium. A 3-1-2 blend, 3-1-3, fish emulsion, or blood meal is appropriate. Apply fertilizer in the spring and again around the middle or end of summer. Compost and coffee grounds also make excellent soil amendments as they provide a boost of nitrogen.
Temperature is one of the most vital concerns when vying for gardenia blooms. Buds will only form when the temperature is 65–70°F during the day, while the nighttime temperature needs to be 60–62°F. When daytime heat exceeds 70°F or nights dip below 50°F, buds will drop.
After the buds open, days should be hotter, around 70–75°F, and nighttime temperatures of 58–60°F. With such particular demands, practicality often dictates growing gardenias in containers. You can adjust the indoor temperature and position the plant near ample light with the appropriate temperature, keeping plants away from drafty areas and A/C vents.
Pruning isn’t a critical concern for growing gardenias, but doing so can often keep them looking their best and encourage fuller growth. Trim away dead or under-producing branches while maintaining an attractive shape.
Timing your pruning is crucial. Prune your gardenias immediately after the blooms wilt as fall approaches. The plant will then begin to develop its buds in preparation for the following summer. If you prune too late in the fall, you run the risk of unknowingly cutting off next year’s flowers.
Rich gardenia blooms are guaranteed to wow everyone, and you’ll likely impress anyone with a passing knowledge of their growing habits. Gardenias are a trial, but the reward is enormous. Follow these tips to time and care for your gardenias, and by summer, you’ll have a floral display unlike any other!
Featured Image Credit: oom_endro, Pixabay