Frequently I wear a little white gardenia on nothing more formal than a cotton house dress. No, I don’t live in the South, and I’m not wealthy or self-indulgent, and, alas, I have no secret admirer!
I grow my gardenias and am surprised to find that most people think me a double-green-thumbed marvel to be able to raise them successfully. Gardenias are as simple to introduce as geraniums.
A friend who had started her gardenia plant – from the stem of a flower her beau had sent her—introduced me to house-grown gardenias. She’d kept it in water so long it had developed tiny roots. Then she planted it, and it grew. She repotted it, and at the peak of its blooming season, it had at least one hundred and fifty flowers at one time!
This friend picked a couple of blooms for me but apologized for their small size, saying she preferred quantity to quality. She allowed all the buds to develop rather than remove some, to give the size and strength of the remaining ones.
In the winter, my “Mr. Gardenia,” as my children call the plant, suns himself in a southern window of my bedroom. When the first blossoms of the year appear in April, the room smells like a florist’s shop.
Gardenia During Summer
During the hot months, “Mr. Gardenia” relaxes on the porch, which faces north, receiving sun only until noon. It blooms again in late summer.
Last year I repotted my gardenia using a mixture of sand, one part humus, and one part plain garden soil. I soak the soil in the pot thoroughly every second day and add plant food once every two to four weeks when the plant is not in bloom and every week to ten days when it is in bud or flower.
Last summer, poor “Mr. Gardenia” sickened and seemed to be approaching an early demise, his leaves suddenly yellowing and falling off. I found that aphids were the cause of my blooming pal’s poor complexion, so I Nought some nicotine spray.
I sprayed the bottom of each remaining leaf and all of each stem and branch daily for a week with a syringe. “Mr. Gardenia” reacted so favorably that a week later, to be sure, I treated him again. There have been no more aphids since.
44659 by Lucille Hovell