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Blooming Plants
            
 
  Blooming Plant of the Month
            Gardenia


Botanical name
Gardenia jasminoides (gar-DEEN-ee-a jaz-min-OY-deez)
Common name
Cape Jasmine
Description
Gardenia plants are evergreen, woody shrubs that feature shiny, dark green leaves and fragrant Camellia-like flowers that grow to 3 to 4 inches across. The waxy petals open into flat or
dome-shaped flowers. Gardenias are prized for
their intense fragrance.
Consumer Life
Each flower may last only five to seven days, but the plant can last for many months with proper care. Only a few flowers are generally open at any given time per plant.
Varieties
Cultivars include ‘Mystery,’ a large, pure white bloom, and ‘Belmont,’ a smaller, creamy white variety.
Availability
Gardenia plants are available year-round, usually from local markets and growers.

Processing
1 Upon arrival, remove the plants from the shipping boxes by grasping their protective sleeves and lifting the plants out.
2 Carefully remove each sleeve by tearing along the seam upward from the bottom.
3 Inspect plant variety, size and quality.
4 Remove any damaged stems, leaves and blooms.
5 Inspect each plant for disease or damage. Isolate diseased or damaged plants, and report them to the grower or buying office immediately.
6 Determine water needs by pressing a finger 1 inch into the soil or using a moisture meter.
7 Water each plant, as necessary, with room-temperature water, and allow excess water to drain from each pot.

Challenge
Ethylene Sensitivity
Gardenias are somewhat sensitive to ethylene gas. Check with your suppliers to make sure their crops are treated with an ethylene inhibitor at the farm or during transportation.

Quality Checklist
Blooms
Remove faded blooms. Don’t accept plants that show signs of wilt, rot, mold or yellowing. Proper temperatures are necessary for Gardenias to bloom (see “care tips,” below left).
Pests
Several insects and diseases are likely to show up on Gardenias. Sooty mold can coat leaves and is usually due to an infestation of aphids or mealy bugs. These sucking insects excrete honeydew, which supports the growth of the black fungus. In sandy soil, nematodes feed on the roots and can cause Gardenias to be stunted or even die. Root rots caused by various fungi also can be a problem, especially in poorly drained soils.

In-store and consumer care tips
Water
Keep the soil moist at all times, but avoid standing water. Irregular watering can cause bud drop. Overwatering can cause leaf drop.
Light
Bright, indirect light is best for plants displayed indoors.
Temperature
Keep Gardenias at a constant temperature, 65 F to 75 F, because fluctuating day and night temperatures damage the flower buds. Flower buds may fail to form if day temperatures are higher than 75 F or night temperatures are lower than 60 F.
Humidity
Gardenias need daily misting. Moderate humidity is required.
fertilizer Feed the plants every three weeks during the growing season with a Rhododendron (azalea) food or acidifying fertilizer.
Soil
Gardenias prefer acidic, moist, well-drained soils.
Grooming
Cut Gardenias back when they have finished flowering.

Some information provided by:
Chain of Life Network®, www.chainoflifenetwork.org

You can reach “Blooming Plant of the Month” writer Steven W. Brown, AIFD, at sbfloral@aol.com or by phone at (415) 239-3140.

Images courtesy of The John Henry Company, Lansing, Mich.


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