Rosemary and Gardenias: Everything You Always Wanted to Know

| 3/31/2009 9:19:59 AM


Q:  Taylor, my question is multi-layered. I live in the Western NC mountains (Waynesville) at about 3500 feet. Last summer, I put out two upright rosemary plants in areas with Eastern exposure, also a winter-hardy gardenia and a trailing gardenia, none of which survived our winter this year. I learned a very expensive lesson. Therefore, they're going to need to be pot plants. My question: What dimensions/depth should the planters be for:

• Upright gardenia
• Trailing gardenia
• Upright rosemary
• Trailing rosemary
Also, finally, how long could they each stay in their respective planters at these dimensions?  How will I know they're unhappy?
Thank you so much for your help,

GardeniaA:  Admittedly, I’ve never grown gardenia plants before, but like I say to users who submit questions, either I will have an answer, or I’ll go out and find one for you. So, I spoke with a couple gardening experts, did some heavy reading, and arrived at a few learned suggestions for Lanie and the blogging community regarding gardenias, which are some of the most beautiful, most fragrant white flowers out there.

First, the quick answer: Pick a pot 2-4" wider and 4-6" deeper than the rootball of the plant you buy to start off the summer. You'll need to transplant them before the summer is through. Find out how to tell when they're ready, below.

1. Know your growing environment: 

Gardenias originated in an oriental environment with mild winters and warm summers – so in a region 6 growing zone, even when labeled “hardy,” if they aren’t in a protected area, they’ll freeze. So, at least with the gardenias in your area, you’re right to pot. (Note: Gardenias will thrive in warmer growing zones throughout the winter.)

While outside, your gardenia will want bright, filtered light (not direct sun), and it will want to stay at a temperature around 73 degrees Fahrenheit. When you move it indoors over the winter, however, it will need the brightest window.
2. How to pot: Gardenias are very finicky and like acidic, moist (but not TOO moist) environments, like azaelas, so it’s smart to mix your own potting soil rather than using a standard “garden variety” like Miracle Gro.