gardenia in a white modern pot

How To Care For Gardenias in Pots – Ultimate Guide

Who doesn’t love Gardenias (Gardenia jasminoides)? They’re beautiful, they smell amazing and to top it off their shining green foliage is stunning too.

So, how to care for Gardenias in pots? Frequent, measured watering, correct fertilizers and timed pruning will have your plant thriving.

how to care for gardenias in pots

Are Gardenias in pots easy to look after? Well they can be, but they can be tricky too. Just follow my simple proven routine below for incredible flowers and lush foliage.

Where Are Gardenia Plants From?

With all elements of gardening, as I always say, it comes back to replicating the plants natural habitat as best as you can.

I mean, when you think about it, it’s kinda weird; we take a plant from the earth in a specific location and put it in a pot with limited space in a completely different country, state, town, etc.!

Anyway, let’s replicate a Gardenia’s natural habitat (as best as we can) and have your plant thriving.

Gardenias are originally from tropical and subtropical regions of Asia, Africa, the Pacific Islands, and Australia.

Let’s go through an ideal setup for your beautiful flowering shrub!

How to Care For Gardenias in 6 Simple Steps

Gardenias are hardy, but they can be a little tricky too, follow the below five steps for lush foliage and sensational flowers:

1. What is The Best Location for My Gardenia in a Pot?

As I mentioned, Gardenias are from tropical and subtropical regions, mainly in Asia and Asia-Pacific.

I know you might be thinking “how do I recreate that? …I just want to grow my Gardenia in a pot.”

Let me show you.

Gardenias love full sun to part shade, if you are in a really sunny location, Gardenias will like a little shade in the summer months.

When you are growing a Gardenia in a pot you need bright light, filtered sun, and minimal direct sun. Why? Because pots can dry out and Gardenias really don’t like this.

Ideally, look for a location where your plant gets 6-8 hours per day of filtered sunlight and it will be thriving.

Next up, let’s discuss the ideal amount of water for your Gardenia in a pot.

gardenia plant in pot with brown leaves

2. How Often Do I Water Gardenias in a Pot?

Ok, so you have the perfect location; now, how much does this little shrub like to drink and how often?

Let’s go back to my previous comment, “tropical and subtropical”. This means Gardenias love moist but not too wet or soggy soil.

We need to find a happy medium for a Gardenia to survive.

In a perfect world, a Gardenia in a pot needs an inch or so of water, but this world ain’t perfect!

So you need to feel the soil, stick your finger in or grab a water meter and stick that in the soil. They are cheap and will be much more precise than the old index finger. Also, a little cleaner.

Remember, moist or damp and not soggy soil is ideal.

TIP: The amount of water you give a plant changes dramatically with the temperature. So water regularly to keep the soil moist but always feel the soil to ensure you don’t overwater or underwater.

3. Which Potting Mix is Best for Gardenias?

Don’t just grab any old potting mix.

Putting effort into getting the right one is essential.

Gardenias love well-drained and moist soil, so how do we get the ideal soil?

Look for a soil that has an element of moisture control? Or that mentions moisture control on the packaging.

You will find Miracle-Gro has one.

Basically, what you are looking for is a mix of peat moss, coir, and some sort of wetting agent in the potting mix.

Trust me, making the effort to get a potting mix that has peat moss and some sort of “moisture control” will make your life so much easier.

Grabbing any old potting mix is always a big mistake!

And what about fertilizer?

fertilizer for gardenias

4. What Kind of Fertilizer is Best for Gardenias?

Oh how I love this topic.

Potentially controversial, which one? How often? Can I over-fertilize?

Let’s keep things simple.

Look for a specific Gardenia fertilizer.

Can you use an all-around fertilizer?


Why you ask?

Gardenias are an acid-loving plant, they like a specific environment to grow and grow well.

An acidic, slow-release fertilizer is absolutely essential for beautiful blooms and luscious leaves (that could be a slogan).

TIP: You can buy liquid fertilizer that sprays on and gets absorbed by the leaves of the Gardenia. However, you can also buy a slow release pellet that you sprinkle around the base of the plant.

Which one is better? This is a game of trial and error like with all gardening, I personally have found that the slow-release pellet fertilizer, although takes longer to kick in, yields a better, longer standing positive effect.

Whatever you use here, always follow the directions on the package to ensure you don’t overfertilize and damage the plant.

5. What is a Seaweed Fertilizer and Why You Need it!

This is not a fertilizer people! So many people steer clear of this as they think of it as a fertilizer and are scared of over-fertilizing.

A tonic of seaweed is NOT a fertilizer and will not damage a Gardenia or any plant in fact, when used in conjunction with a fertilizer.

So what is this mysterious seaweed concoction?

This is a tonic or plant food sourced from the ocean, from actual seaweed. It is rich in trace minerals and hormones and will help stimulate plant growth.

It is natural, non-offensive, and is best sprayed directly onto the Gardenia foliage.

TIP: Don’t spray the Gardenia flowers, as it can stain/dirty them. Check directions but generally you can use every 2-4 weeks in the growing season.

gardenia flower

6. When and How to Prune a Gardenia?

Cutting back a Gardenia in a pot is absolutley essential, but so is the timing of it.

The best time to prune is after the Gardenia flowers. Once the plant has flowered, prune 2-3 inches straight after the initial flower and once again after the plant has finished flowering for the season.

You can easily take 6-8 inches off before the colder months. This will ensure an abundance of thick new growth and Gardenia flowers next Spring.

TIP: A tip for a tip! You can pinch off the flowers with your fingers as they die or get waterlogged (and see through) from excess rain.

Ok, let’s wrap this up.

How To Grow Gardenias in Pots – The Final Word

Often growing a Gardenia in a pot can be easier than a garden bed as you have the flexibility to move location. That’s if you follow all of the steps above.

Start from the bottom up. Select a pot with lots of room for the roots, ensure it has good drainage, use a good well-suited potting mix, and then follow and adapt a good care routine.

The key word above is adapt, it is essential to always adapt your watering and plant location to the time of year.

Gardening, although some will disagree is an art, not a science, please remember that. There is a lot of trial and error and you will learn a lot along the way.

Happy Gardening!

P.S Don’t forget to put a reminder in your phone to “check gardenias” just to make sure you don’t forget about them and let them dry out.