Prized for their strongly-scented flowers, gardenias are not the easiest of houseplants. If, however, you can supply the sunlight and humidity needed to keep these plants happy, you will be rewarded with one of the most beautiful of flowers. These evergreen shrubs produce lovely, waxy white heavily-scented flowers surrounded by glossy, dark green leaves. This plant is named for Alexander Garden, a Scottish-born 18th century botanist and physician of colonial South Carolina.
There are tropical and hardy varieties of gardenia. The indoor Gardenia jasminoides ‘Veitchii’ (also known as G. augusta) is the most commonly available. This native of Southern China has numerous cultivars, including ‘Miami Supreme’, ‘Aimee Yoshioka’, and ‘August Beauty’. All are great in a sunny window inside, or in containers for the summer patio (provide mid-day shade.)
The gardenia prefers direct morning or late afternoon sun, or very bright light most of the day. Provide even moisture with good drainage, and higher humidity…very dry air can cause flower bud drop. Fertilize with an acid-soil formula every four to six weeks during warm seasons. Repot into a container one size larger as needed, usually every year or two. Prune after flowering to control size or shape.