The Worst Place To Plant Your Gardenia

Save your curb appeal.

White and Brown Gardenia Flowers
Photo: Steve Bender

Like most of you, Grumpy loves a gardenia . If there is a plant on Earth whose flowers emit a more powerfully sweet scent, I haven't smelled it. Thus, my next-door neighbor and just about everybody else on the street (including me) have a gardenia in their yard.

From observing this, I have come to the following conclusion. There are many places to plant a gardenia , but the worst location is right in front of your house.

A gardenia bush typically opens its main flush of blooms over several weeks in late spring and early summer. Flowers unfurl alabaster white into perfectly shaped corsages. However, the flowers don't stay white for long. After a week or so, the oldest blooms turn yellow, next brown, and remain on the shrub as new flowers open. (The photo reflects the result.)

Is the gardenia half-alive or half-dead? It doesn't matter—it's not an attractive sight and surely not one you want to occupy a featured spot in front of the house.

You could pick off the blooms as soon as they start to fade, but who wants to do that? It behooves us to select a place for gardenia where we don't have to do that—maybe the backyard, the side yard, or a courtyard. (Any location but out front.) That way, we enjoy the weeks of perfume without worrying that the neighbors think we don't take pride in our yards.

I'm sure many of you already have gardenias planted out front—no need to feel ashamed. You can always move the plants to a better spot in the fall. So, if gardenias don't look good growing in front of your house, where should you plant these sweet, fragrant shrubs? Here's what you need to know about planting gardenias.

Gardenia Care 101

Gardenias are incredibly fragrant, so planting these shrubs in containers that can quickly move near porches or away from the house helps make this transition easier. Don't move gardenias if planted in the ground.

  • Soil: Plant gardenias in humus-rich, acidic soil that is well-draining but moist. Supplementing the soil with organic compost or bark can help keep a good consistency. Whether planted in the ground or in containers, don't place gardenias near other plants because their roots don't enjoy a lot of competition.
  • Sun: Depending on your region, gardenias need full sun but will tolerate afternoon shade in areas with hot summers. Overall, gardenias love heat and humidity.
  • Water: Don't let gardenias completely dry before watering, making sure the plant receives at least one inch of water weekly through rainfall or regular watering. Mulching can help protect gardenia from water-logged roots and weeds or plants competing for nutrients.
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