Apartment plants

Gardenia jasminoides

Gardenia jasminoides

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Gardenias are small or medium-sized, evergreen shrubs, which produce large white flowers, or cream, intensely scented; there are several species of gardenia, in some classifications they are dozens, in others they reach the two hundred and fifty species, widespread in the humid and mild areas of Africa, Asia and Oceania in the natural state, and throughout the world cultivated as ornamental plants. The species widespread in cultivation in Europe do not exceed ten; all have large, dark, shiny and slightly leathery, evergreen oval leaves. In spring and summer they produce numerous fleshy flowers, in light tones, with six petals, or even double or stradoppi, very fragrant, which are also produced for the extraction of the perfume, to be used in cosmetics. Usually in nursery we find particularly decorative varieties, with double flowers or with a very intense aroma; most of the species originate from tropical wetlands, and are therefore used to minimum temperatures above 10 ° C, but there are more resistant varieties, which also bear short frosts, and can therefore find a place in the garden. Generally, even cultivating the same identical variety, the specimens grown in the apartment remain quite small, not exceeding 45-65 cm in height and width; if instead we grow a gardenia in the garden, we can obtain a decidedly more impressive shrub, which over the years will reach even 120-150 cm in height.


Common name

Gardenia jasminoides
Family, genus and species Rubiaceae, Gardenia jasminoides
Type of plant Bushy, acidophilous evergreen
Height at maturity From 50 cm up to 15 depending on the species
Cultivation Medium difficulty
Water needs Average
Rusticitа Not very rustic
Exposure Diffused light
Place of cultivation Flat
Type of soil Acidophilous plant, acid soil
Climate It needs a humid and warm climate (min 10-15 ° C)

Gardenia Floribunda syn. jasminoides

The most widespread species is gardenia jasminoides, so called because of the scent of its flowers, as intense as that of jasmine. It forms a beautiful dense and compact shrub, well branched, which bears dark leaves, with very marked veins, quite leathery; It is the most widespread species, both as a botanical species and as a cultivar or hybrid variety. The origins of this gardenia are Asian, and in particular it is from China and Japan that these plants reached Europe, some centuries ago. The flowers are large, double or double, and have fleshy petals, velvety to the touch. The scent is almost excessive, especially if we have a plant with many flowers in a small room. The flowering is continuous, from spring until autumn, it can stop in case of drought or very high temperatures; typically the gardenias that we find in the nursery are forced to bloom at any time of the year, even in winter, to make them attractive for sale. A gardenia purchased in the middle of winter typically upon arrival at home will lose most of its buds, attempting to restore the natural cycle of the seasons.

Gardenia brighamii

This species is native to the Hawaiian islands, where it forms large shrubs, up to a couple of meters high, very long-lived, which tend to become erect, not very compact, and to empty in the lower part; the leaves are large, elongated, very leathery and rigid, evergreen, dark green, glossy; for the whole year they produce, at the apex of the branches, small fragrant flowers, constituted by a tubular part, which is divided into six or seven lobes; the flowers are white and vaguely reminiscent of tropical jasmine flowers. Species not very widespread in cultivation, it is protected in places of origin because climate change makes it endangered. The flowers are followed by large fruits, which resemble kiwis, which contain fertile seeds.

Gardenia tahitensis

Also known as the flower of Tiaris, the gardenia of Tahiti is widespread throughout Polynesia and in the islands of the Pacific Ocean; despite the name, this plant is not present in Tahiti. Produces large evergreen shrubs, compact and dense, with well erected and well branched stems; the foliage is bright green, persistent, oval, slightly leathery; the flowers are tubular, with six or seven lobes at the apex, very fragrant, they bloom throughout the year, but particularly in spring and autumn. The scent of Tiarè flowers is well known also in Europe, because they are used to produce monoi oil, or an oil prepared by letting the flowers macerate in coconut oil, then used as a restructuring product for hair and in sunscreen .

Gardenia thunbergia

Species native to southern Africa; produces a large shrub, with a rigid central erect stem, which can reach two or three meters in height, which carries numerous short branches; the bark is gray or white and smooth; the leaves are oval, fairly leathery, smooth and bright green; the flowers are tubular, very long, and in the angle they open in eight or ten lobes, of white color, even when they wither. The flowers are very fragrant, and bloom in summer; the flowers are followed by oval, gray-green fruits that can remain on the plants for months. Very common plant in South Africa, where it is also cultivated as a hedge or as an impressive single specimen.

Grow the Gardenia in the apartment

Gardenias are widespread in cultivation in Italy, both as houseplants and as garden plants; the most widespread varieties almost all derive from Gardenia jasminoides, and therefore have the needs of a tropical plant, accustomed to a climate that is not excessively hot, but not too resistant to cold, and with high demands with regard to environmental humidity. Clearly, the greatest difficulties that can be encountered in Italy when cultivating a gardenia concern water, and especially that present in the air: unfortunately during the hot Mediterranean summers, and in winter in apartments (due to the heating system) l environmental humidity is very low. The result usually consists of gardenias that vegetate quite well, but which remain completely free of flowers for many months. Despite this, the beauty of the plants has led them to settle in many homes and many gardens.
Gardenias are acidophilic plants, so first of all they need a fresh, fairly rich, and acid soil, specially prepared, mixing peat, little sand and fertilizer; in the nursery we can also find already some soil for properly mixed and fertilized acidophiles. Typically, apartment gardenias remain small in size, because cultivation in pots does not allow the shrub to develop as desired; even some specimens of some years therefore do not exceed one meter in height. They find space in a well-lit area of ​​the house, but none move to direct sunlight, which can cause excessively high temperatures, and especially too dry air. We avoid placing our gardenia near heat sources, but not even near a door or a window that are often opened, to avoid it being subjected to temperature changes. Watering must be very regular: throughout the year our efforts must tend to maintain a slightly damp soil, but without exceeding and without drowning the roots; then water every two or three days, waiting for the water to dry between two waterings; water that must be limestone-free, or favor the development of ferric chlorosis. It is also essential to keep the air fresh and moist, very often by vaporizing the foliage, but avoiding the flowers; then spray the leaves when the plant is free of buds; when instead the flowers appear, we avoid the spraying, and rather we place the plant in a wide saucer, with gravel on the bottom, and constantly a few centimeters of water, which will gradually evaporate. The fertilizer is supplied every 15 days, choosing one for acidophilic flowering plants.

Grow gardenia in the garden

Gardenias can survive even short frosts, not too intense; there are also particularly resistant varieties, but generally they do not survive frosts with temperatures below -10 ° C. If we live in an area with very cold winters, we will have to cover our gardenia in winter or grow it in pots, to be able to move it in the greenhouse during the cold season. It is grown in a good soil for acidophilic plants, fresh and well drained, so that it is not subject to water stagnations. These plants in Italian gardens must find a place similar to the undergrowth, characterized by a luminous half shade, fresh, humid and free of excessive changes in temperature. Therefore, we avoid very sunny or exposed to the winter wind, and we prefer a flowerbed against the house, quite shaded. The waterings will be regular, intensifying them in the summer period, and thinning them during the winter, when the plant generally needs little care, given the cold and naturally humid climate. To increase the environmental humidity, especially during the summer months, we will also have to vaporize the top of the gardenia in the garden, avoiding touching the flowers, which otherwise become brown and wither quickly. Often the gardenia specimens we buy from nursery house plants can survive even in the garden; clear is that they need to be able to slowly adapt to the climate in the open; therefore, if we want to buy a gardenia from the garden, we avoid planting it in the autumn or winter, because it is likely to have experienced its first months in the nursery in a hot and humid climate, and therefore will not immediately be able to withstand the cold . So, rather, we buy a garden gardenia in spring, so that we can get used to the climate of our garden during the long summer months.

Pests and diseases

The most typical problem with gardenias concerns the fall of the flowers: it happened to everyone to see a beautiful gardenia in the nursery, full of buds, and to have bought it hoping for a long and fragrant flowering; once we got home, we saw the buds darken and fall irreparably within a few days. This behavior is due to the great difference in environmental humidity present between the air of the nursery and that of the house, which is usually very dry; in the nursery it is possible to leave large tanks full of water to evaporate slowly; in addition to this, the presence of many nearby plants creates a climate more similar to that of a rainforest, very different from that found at home, especially in summer, but also when the air conditioner or heating is in action. If we want a gardenia full of flowers, let's remember to guarantee the correct environmental humidity. Another typical problem of gardenias, and of all acidophilic plants, is chlorosis or gardenia with yellow leaves: an acidophilous plant, watered with water from the aqueduct, tends to turn yellow over the course of months; and this yellowing worsens despite our care, which usually consists of fertilizing, increased watering, moving the plant to a brighter place.
The ferric chlorosis is due to the lack of bioavailable iron in the soil, often triggered by an excess of limestone in the water used for watering. To prevent this disorder from arising it is essential to water the gardenias with demineralized water, or with tap water left to rest and decant for at least a day. Even a right fertilizer and periodic potting with a good soil for acidophilus, can certainly help a lot.

Propagate the Gardenia

The Gardenias spread with great ease by cutting, using sturdy branches, which did not bring flowers, and taking them in spring or autumn; the small branches must be about ten centimeters long, and the leaves in the lower part will be removed, and the leaves in the upper part thinned; when we take a cutting we use a very sharp shear, so as to make a nice clean cut, without crushing the thin branch. The cuttings are then placed in the rooting hormone, and then in a cuttings tray, filled with good soil for acidophilic plants, mixed with little sand. We keep the soil moist, in a sheltered place, until we see the first small shoots from the cuttings prepared by us.
Gardenias also produce small oval fruits, which contain fertile seeds; these small seeds can be sown, in autumn or late winter, in a warm bed, keeping them moist and in a warm climate until germination. The gardenias are quite slow in their development, therefore it is much more interesting to propagate them by cuttings, because from seed it will take years before obtaining a small shrub full of flowers.

Gardenia jasminoides: Gardenia with yellow leaves ... what causes

One of the problems that most frequently presents itself to those who decide to put a gardenia plant at home is the yellowing of the leaves. It can often happen that a few weeks after bringing a gardenia plant into the house, the leaves begin to seem yellow without a reason.
In reality the reasons can be many and in this paragraph we will try to list them briefly. One of the causes can surely be too much watering. If you overdo it with the amount of water in fact the roots start to have problems with radical asphyxia, a problem that quickly translates into a yellowing of the leaves due to the plant's vegetation difficulties.
Another problem that can cause a widespread yellowing of the leaves of the gardenia is the choice of an incorrect soil or cultivation soil. The gardenia is in fact an acidophilous plant that needs a soil with a low pH to optimally vegetate. With a different pH the plant has difficulty absorbing nutrients and consequently the leaves turn yellow.
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