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A gardenia bush is a plant that is prized for its blooms. Gardenia flowers are a rich, creamy white. They are also quite fragrant. The plants have dark green foliage and may also bear a reddish fruit in the fall.
This shrub is native to Asia and some regions of Africa. It is also sometimes called the cape jasmine. The family name of the gardenia bush is Rubiaceae, which is in the coffee family.
A gardenia bush needs plenty of sun and thrives in U.S. climate zones seven through ten. In areas with typically hot summer temperatures, however, gardenias will do best with partial shade. Gardeners who reside in climates with harsh winter temperatures may consider planting gardenias indoors. Indoor gardenia bushes should be placed in a sunny area.
Gardenias prefer a rich soil that drains well. The soil pH level should be between five and six. Gardeners may mix in compost with the soil to help improve the moisture level.
These plants should be first planted in either the spring or fall. Gardeners who are planting more than one gardenia bush should space them at least three feet (.91 meters) apart. A newly planted gardenia bush should be well-watered. Gardeners should provide about one inch (2.54 cm) of water per week after planting. The blooms may also be misted daily with a spray bottle of water to help increase the humidity levels in the plant’s immediate area.
Gardenia bushes do best when they do not need to compete with weeds for resources. In addition to weeding often, gardeners can help the plants thrive by applying a layer of mulch periodically. This will also help keep the soil slightly moist. During the growing season, from the spring to early fall, gardenias require a monthly application of acidifying fertilizer.
These plants may be susceptible to a variety of diseases. The most common gardenia problem is canker, which is a fungus. This problem is noticeable when it causes the bark to crack and the stem to turn bright yellow. Canker causes a slow death for these plants. Gardeners with a canker-infested gardenia bush should destroy it and re-plant healthy gardenias in another location.
Other common problems include powdery mildew and leaf spot. Leaf spot can cause dark brown spots on the leaves. Gardeners can identify mildew by its white spots on the leaves. Both of these problems should be treated with a fungicide.