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PAL Questions: 1 - Garden Tools:
I have three small gardenias that I planted in containers this summer. They have done wonderfully but I am not sure what to do with them for the winter. I live in Seattle, WA and am not sure if i should bring them inside? Please advise me on the best way to take care of them. I can also plant them but don't think this is the right time to plant?
I don't know which species of Gardenia you are growing, but according to the book Hot Plants for Cool Climates by Susan Roth and Dennis Schrader (Houghton Mifflin, 2000), Gardenia augusta (also called Gardenia jasminoides) may be overwintered in a conservatory or as a houseplant, but you will need to make sure it gets enough light, and is kept cool, particularly at night. If you grow it indoors, it will also require high humidity.
Missouri Botanical Garden advises the following:
"Plants appreciate significant humidity year-round. In the St. Louis area, plants should be grown in pots or containers in conservatories or warm rooms. Plants may be taken outside in summer, but should be brought indoors in late summer/early fall for overwintering. As an indoor plant, grow this gardenia in bright light with moderate room temperatures. Water moderately, but do not allow soils to dry out. Prune as needed after flowering to shape. Fertilize as needed from March to August. In St. Louis, this low growing plant could be sited outside in the ground in a protected location with an organic root mulch, however winter survival would be a serious concern. Gardenias need lots of attention and are generally considered to be difficult plants to grow well."
We are considerably warmer in winter than St. Louis, and there are a few Gardenia cultivars which are said to withstand colder temperatures, such as 'Klehm's Hardy' (to 0 degrees F), 'Chuck Hayes' (to zone 6b), and 'August Moon' (about 0 degrees). The book Palms Won't Grow Here and Other Myths by David Francko (Timber Press, 2003) mentions these cultivars, and adds the following:
"Gardenias require extremely well-drained, highly organic soils. This species does best in partial shade and definitely out of winter sun and wind. (It) can be grown as a container plant but does not do well as a houseplant. Plant it near an entry way to your home or whatever part of your garden you happen to gravitate toward most."
Seattle gardening expert Ciscoe Morris also says that keeping the Gardenia indoors is problematic, because our homes are usually far too hot and dry in the winter months to keep this plant happy. It is liable to get spider mites inside, and he suggests taking a shower with your plants to keep the mites off the leaves, and to give them a good dose of humidity. Since you have three plants, you could experiment by bringing one indoors and keeping it in the best possible conditions (no excessive heat, good light, sufficient humidity), and then place or plant the others in the garden in a sheltered spot (away from wind and intense sunlight).
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June 24 2013 12:55:25