How To Care For Your Gardenia In The Winter

Glorified as a symbol of secret love during the Victorian era, gardenias have come a long way — they're now iconic in public showcases of love: bridal bouquets and wedding décor. However, given their beautiful white blooms and pleasing fragrance, it's easy to see why the gardenia remains a favorite with brides and gardeners alike. These alluring beauties are a sight to behold during the summer but need quite a bit of care during the winter, especially if you live in cold zones. To winterize gardenias, cover them with cloth when the temperature drops or bring them indoors if in containers.

Gardenias are tropical natives that thrive best in hardy zones 8 to 11, with sweet summers and mild winters. The moment temperatures fall below 15 degrees Fahrenheit, your woody shrub is likely to suffer winter and frost damage unless covered and cared for. While a few cold-hardy varieties like the Belmont and Scent Amazing can withstand the harsh winters of zones 6 and 7, you're better off planting these woody shrubs in pots so that you can carry them inside when it's almost freezing.

Wintering lawn-planted gardenia

Gardenia's winter gardening care entails late summer planning — mostly pruning. Once the flowering season ends, it's ideal to deadhead them, meaning removing all dead blooms and damaged stems. Under no circumstances should gardenia be cut back during cold temperatures, as you may destroy the new buds and hurt the oncoming spring growth. Next, apply a mulch layer to the evergreen plant's roots for added protection during the winter. Also, avoid watering your plant unless the soil feels dry to the touch.

Ideally, monitor for weather changes and wrap your coveted plant with frost cloth, an old blanket, or a big bucket if it's exposed to cold drafts. Pin the cloth down with rocks if required. Alternatively, you can shelter your leafy friend in a cardboard box. This will minimize contact with frost, but also prevent your plant's stems from breaking down under the weight of snow (if it snows in your region). But if your gardenia still suffers frost damage, trim the dead branches once spring arrives.

Potted gardenia winter care

For winterizing potted white beauties planted in hardy zones 8 to 11, there isn't much you need to do. Simply cover the plant with plastic bubble wrap when the cold season hits to protect your plants from frost damage. But if you live in cool climates, it's better to bring the shrubs back inside and insulate them right when temperatures dip below 60 degrees Fahrenheit at night. This will aid them in adapting to indoor temperatures. However, ensure your plants aren't infested with pests like whiteflies and aphids before moving them indoors.

As they're finicky about their growth environment, you'll need to take extra care of gardenias during the winter when they're dormant. Place them in spots receiving at least four hours of sun. Also, ensure the soil is damp. For this, you can occasionally deeply water the roots whenever the soil feels dry and drain the rest. Further, use a humidifier, mist the plants, or place the pot on a pebble tray to maintain the necessary moisture levels. Don't forget to apply a slow-release fertilizer to its base.