Horticultural Guide: Gardenias – Beautiful and Unforgettable

If fragrances can evoke childhood memories and bring us back to our grandparents’ backyard, the scent of the garden would be one of four. Also known as Cape Jasmine in this part of central North Carolina, they have been planted here since the 18th century. Gardinia Jasminoids, a member of the coffee family, originated in China and was produced there for over a thousand years.

Gardens are three to eight feet[3 to 8 m]tall, up to six feet[6 m]wide. Some dwarf shapes are less than two feet tall and can grow in containers or serve as ground cover. The leaves remain shiny and persistent green. The flowers are creamy white, can be single or double and usually bloom from May to June and can sprout again in the summer.

Gardenia is a little nervous about their environment. They prefer acid soils, so soil testing before planting is highly recommended. Plant them in partial shade, protected from the midday sun. Improvements such as fertilizer or pine bark can be added at this time to help improve pH and improve drainage. They can be cold-sensitive, so try to stay away from drying out winter winds in a well-ventilated area.

Garden pests include whiteflies, lice, fleas, traps, and spiders. Insects such as wasps and beetles help control many of these pests. Other measures include the use of vegetable oils and pesticides. Even a few days of heavy poisoning in the water can help to reduce the population without the use of pesticides.

It is only natural to fall off a leaf in the spring before new growth begins. At other times, the leaves may turn yellow, which may be due to a lack of nutrients, improper watering, over-fertilization, insect contamination, or environmental factors, including overheating. Gardinia can be damaged by various fungi, causing the plants to grow and the leaves or sprouts to fall off, such as root rot, mold mold and tree bark. Most can be prevented by good gardening practices. For more information, contact your local extension office or go to hgic.clemson.edu/factsheet/gardenia/

Although gardens are free of maintenance, they can be successfully planted in landscapes such as pollen or night gardens where you can admire their scent and beauty. “The smell of Cape Jasmine through the window” in the song of the late Don Williams, a gentle giant, reminiscent of his childhood. Maybe we should all remember those good days and the days to come. Thank you, Grandma.

Gail Griffin is an extension gardener in Lee County with North Carolina Cooperative Expansion.

Gail Griffin is an extension gardener in Lee County with North Carolina Cooperative Expansion.

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