Gardenia plants vary in shape and size, but their exquisite coloring makes them a popular choice to improve the look of any outdoor space. Their bright white petals are a stark contrast against the dark green leaves.
The leaves themselves are evergreen, so will look striking all year around. The plant flowers from mid spring through the summer and the flowers give off an intoxicating scent.
Gardenia are also known as Cape Jasmine, and have a reputation for being quite difficult to grow. The leathery, shiny Gardenia are fairly hardy, but the flowers are delicate and the petals bruise easily.
They are very sensitive to changes in temperature, light and humidity, which can make it harder to grow them successfully in certain climates. They are native to tropical and subtropical regions like Africa, Southern Asia, Australasia and Oceania.
This shrub can grow to heights of 60 centimeters to 2 meters, or 2 to 6 feet tall. The flowers grow in small clusters or on their own, and are between 5 and 12 centimeters in diameter, or 2 to 5 inches wide.
Aside from being a beautiful plant, Gardenia also has several uses. In Eastern Asia, Gardenia fruit are used as a yellow dye for food and fabrics. It is also used in traditional Chinese medicine due its calming properties.
In France, Gardenia flowers were traditionally worn as a buttonhole as part of male evening wear. This trend was also picked up by Upper-class men in New York.
We have established that Gardenias are beautiful, fascinating plants, but are they a suitable choice to grow on a Balcony? How do you successfully grow a Gardenia plant? Are there any products available to make the process easier?
We have answered all of these questions and more. Keep reading to find out lots of information about Gardenias and how to grow them on your balcony.
Choosing The Right Pot
To successfully grow your Gardenia, you will need to choose the right pot. Go for a pot that is bigger than the plant you have bought.
It is recommended to aim for a pot that is approximately 4 inches bigger than the pot the plant came in, so it has room to grow. When repotting the Gardenia, aim to keep as much of the original soil as possible as it is full of nutrients.
Make sure the pot you choose has drainage holes at the bottom. The pot needs to be big enough so the roots don’t block the drainage holes, as you don’t want the pot to retain water.
Don’t stand the pot in a trough or saucer as this can also cause it to retain water.
Consider the weather conditions where you live. This plant is likely going to be moved in and outside quite frequently to avoid getting too hot or cold.
Choose a pot that you can lift easily and isn’t too heavy. Remember you can pot the plant in a plastic pot, but place the plastic pot inside a more attractive ceramic pot for decoration.
Once you have chosen the right pot for your Gardenia plant, you need to ensure you provide the right soil conditions for the plant to grow.
The varieties of Gardenia that grow well in pots tend to prefer acidic soil with a PH level between 5.0 and 6.0. You can buy specific potting soils for gardenias that are light, rich in organic matter and well drained.
You can see our recommendations in the product list below. Do not use water retaining soil rich in clay, or any type of soil that will allow puddles to form.
If you’re not using potting soil, try a combination of peat moss, coarse sand and compost.
You should aim to keep the soil moist but not soggy. Over-watering Gardenias can cause many problems including fungal issues and attracting pests.
Make sure you only water the soil, not the flowers, or the petals could turn brown. If the leaves have brown on them, the plant is likely not getting enough water.
The soil should be fertilized every month with an acidic fertilizer, including during the winter months. You can apply mulch to the soil in the winter, such as bark chippings, to help it retain moisture.
You should also apply Epsom salt to the soil once a month during the growing season.
You can also try using coffee grounds or tea to enrich the soil and ensure your Gardenias will flourish.
So, you have the right pot and your plant is nestled in the ideal soil. Next, you need to choose where to place your plant.
Gardenias can require anything from full sun to light shade depending on the variety you choose. The varieties of Gardenias that grow well in pots often prefer warm and sunny environments with good air circulation.
Gardenias flourish best between 65 and 75 degrees fahrenheit, so it’s important to bring the pot inside in colder weather or if temperatures drop below this at night.
Gardenias do not like getting wet, and being rained on can also cause them to get fungal infections on their leaves. Make sure you bring the plant indoors in wet weather if your balcony is uncovered.
The ideal humidity for Gardenias is 70%. If the conditions on your balcony aren’t humid enough, you can place the pot on a tray lined with pebbles that has been filled with water.
The pebbles will lift the pot up and prevent it from retaining water from the tray, whilst still allowing the plant to benefit from the humidity from the water.
Try not to change the location of the pot too frequently, other than to bring them in and outdoors depending on the weather. If the plant is wilting, it might be getting too much sun, so move it into the shade.
Repotting & Pruning
Gardenias require maintenance- you can’t just choose a spot and leave it alone.
To make sure your Gardenia stays healthy and happy, re-pot your plant every 2-3 years in late winter or early spring.
You should avoid pruning the roots as this can cause damage to the plant. If you spot dead flowers, remove them immediately.
You can prune the shrub lightly at the end of the flowering season by removing any dead or damaged branches that could restrict airflow to the plant.
Pests & Diseases
Gardenias are vulnerable to certain pests and diseases as are many potted plants. Keep an eye out for white flies, aphids, thrips, scales and mealybugs.
Look out for signs of diseases like fungus root rot. Fungal infections on leaves and bacterial issues. These are often caused by over-watering.
Iron Chlorosis is an issue that can affect Gardenias. The leaves will be light green or yellow instead of dark green. This can be treated with iron chlorosis spray such as Miracid. Yellow leaves can also be an indication of over-watering.
There are some common problems that gardeners face when trying to grow Gardenia. We have provided a brief summary of what to look out for to keep your plant healthy.
If the buds are dropping off the plant before they have opened, this is usually caused by improper care of the plant. Over or under watering, poor soil drainage, insufficient light or excessive fertilization can cause buds to drop.
It could also be that the humidity is too low or the light exposure is too high. It may also be that the plant is lacking in nutrients, especially if the soil is of a poor quality.
The best way to fix this is to check all of the conditions and make adjustments until your Gardenia is healthy and happy.
Brown leaves can be a sign of several problems. It could indicate a microbiological threat such as sooty mold, leaf spot or powdery mildew.
Check the stems and underneath the leaves for signs of pests, and try spraying the plant with an antifungal agent to prevent this happening again in the future.
Gardenia leaves may turn brown if water gets onto them, so avoid watering from above. Brown leaves could also be a sign of poor soil drainage, insufficient light, low humidity or not enough acid in the soil.
Make sure you check the growing conditions for the plant are being maintained correctly.
Over watering is a common cause for yellow leaves, as well as over-watering and poor soil drainage. If your Gardenia is getting the right amount of water, their leaves will be leathery, shiny and dark green.
Insufficient light can also cause the leaves to fade and turn yellow. This plant prefers full sun, though in warmer climates they can be scorched in midday and grow best in morning and afternoon sun.
If being grown indoors they will need 6-8 hours of direct sunlight a day.
Failure To Bloom
If you are struggling to get your Gardenia to flower and bloom, there are several issues that could be causing this.
Fluctuating temperatures can prevent Gardenias from blooming. Keep an eye on the weather reports for an upcoming peak or dip in temperatures and bring the plant inside if necessary so you can better regulate its conditions.
Poor soil drainage can also prevent Gardenia from flowering, or insufficient acid levels in the soil.
The other cause of Gardenias failing to bloom is incorrect pruning. You should prune your Gardenia when it is dormant, straight after the flowering season is over.
If you prune them too late, you will remove buds that are forming for next season. Sometimes they will bloom twice in one season so ensure you check the blooming habits of your particular variety of Gardenia before beginning the pruning process.
So the answer is yes – you can definitely grow Gardenia on a balcony. But they require very specific conditions to grow well, to flower and to bloom.
Before choosing Gardenia for your balcony, consider the weather conditions in your area and the features of your outdoor space.
Does your balcony have shelter from rain? Does it get enough sunlight? Do you have space to bring the pot indoors when it gets too hot, cold or wet?
If you decide to try growing Gardenia, make sure you are prepared by checking out the product list below.
Make sure you have a good quality potting soil for your Gardenias. It should be acidic, nutrient rich and well drained.
We recommend Wonder Soil Organic Potting Soil Mix and Organic Plant Magic Compressed Potting Soil. Both of these products are suitable for indoor and outdoor potted plants, and will be a great choice for your Gardenias.
Wonder Soil Organic Potting Soil Mix
Organic Plant Magic Compressed Potting Soil
The next product to consider is fertilizer. The right fertilizer will keep your Gardenias healthy and happy all year round.
We recommend Miracle-Gro Shake ‘N Feed Continuous Release Plant Food for Trees and Shrubs, or Perfect Plants Gardenia Liquid Fertilizer.
Perfect Plants Liquid Fertilizer
Iron Chlorosis Treatment
If your Gardenia develops iron Chlorosis, we recommend using Epsoma Iron-Tone. This fast-acting supplement will restore green color to yellow chlorotic leaves.
To prevent your plant developing fungal infections or being infested with pests, use an antifungal spray. We recommend Bioadvanced 3-In-1 insecticide, fungicide, and miticide. It is rainproof and will provide approximately 45 applications.