Gardenias are beautiful subtropical plants well-known for their exquisite fragrances. Their attractive creamy-white flowers are as delicate as they look.
Native to the subtropical regions of Africa, southern Asia, Australasia, and Oceania, Gardenia jasminoides is from the Rubiaceae family. They are recommended for growing in USDA plant hardiness zones 8 to 11.
Gardenias are picky specimens requiring the right conditions to maintain attractiveness. They need:
- Humidity in the correct amounts
- The right allocation of water
- A soil pH maintained at the right levels
An essential part of taking care of gardenia plants is to give them fertilizer. Fertilizing with the right fertilizers will help keep up the soil pH and contribute to their health and well-being.
Best Fertilizer For Gardenias
Fertilizers provide gardenias with essential nutrients to boost growth and flowering. It takes the right kind of fertilizer (acid loving plant food) and an application at the proper time to get the best out of it.
Gardenias flourish in mildly acidic soils with a soil pH between 5 and 6.
Test the soil’s pH before applying any kind of fertilizer. Doing this will help to decide if it’s a soil acidifier or one that reduces the acidity that’ll be required to balance your Gardenia’s soil.
Gardenia food needs to be about 1 pound of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet of garden. Various fertilizers comprise different amounts of nitrogen.
Your fertilizer for Gardenia needs to be in organic ingredients as these usually contain a lower pH level than the soil requires.
Copper and iron in the fertilizer enhance the plant’s leaves and flower growth rate. Also, look out for aluminum sulfate in the fertilizer.
There are a wide range and type of fertilizers available. You can use liquid, pellet, or a powdered one. Provided it has higher acidic content; you are good to go. It helps to pick one that works for other acid-loving plants like Azaleas, Camellia, and Rhododendron.
Some of the most popular choices include;
- Scotts Miracle-Gro MirAcid
- Miracle-Gro Plant Food
- Earth 703P Organic Acid Fertilizer
An alternative to commercial fertilizer is homemade fertilizer.
Homemade fertilizers are made from tea bags, coffee grounds, salts, and wood ashes mixed into the soil. They’re rich in nitrogen, magnesium, and potassium.
Depending on the recipe, your homemade fertilizer could end up being as effective as a professional solution.
Coffee grounds are more favored as homemade gardenia fertilizer because they are rich in acidity.
NOTE: Mixing white vinegar into the water when watering increases soil acidity. Mix 1 tablespoon of white vinegar with 1 gallon of water.
When and How to Fertilize the Gardenia
Fertilizers come in different forms. You’ll have to either mix the fertilizer directly with the soil or mix water soluble fertilizer with water first before adding it to the plant’s soil.
Take the following precautions while applying fertilizer to your Gardenia;
- Don’t sprinkle on the leaves directly. Instead, mix them straight towards the roots because that’s the part that needs the nutrients.
- Fertilizers should be kept at least 6″ inches away from the stems of Gardenias to avoid burning them.
- Apply pellet fertilizers by mixing them into the soil around plants. Powders and liquid concentrates of fertilizer typically need to be mixed with water before applying to the soil.
- Mix according to the required amount in the package instructions.
- We recommend mixing liquid fertilizers in half-strength, especially if the acidity level is close to 5 and 6 on the pH scale.
Gardenias need fertilizer right from the onset of their growth cycle. One of the reasons is because fertilizers speed up the flowering cycle of plants. Take the following into consideration;
- The best time to apply fertilizers is between April and November.
- Consider your garden zone when planning for fertilization. For example, the southern Florida garden zone tends to fertilize anytime between March and October.
- Space the application of fertilizer between two and four weeks intervals. It’s better to fertilize less frequently than over-fertilizing your gardenias. Too much fertilizer can burn your roots.
- At the least, fertilize twice a year. Let the first be in the early spring at the onset of the growth cycle. The second application should be during the early summer, at the peak of the growing season.
- While making fertilizer applications, cut off faded Gardenia flowers to encourage growth.
Although fertilizing your gardenias may seem intimidating at first, finding the right fertilizer can make all the difference.