Q: I would appreciate it if you would advise me about varieties of gardenias. I have looked at nurseries but there seemed to be several varieties, such as everblooming and ‘August Beauty’.What would you suggest I purchase for different sizes, blooming periods, etc.?
A: I divide gardenias into three categories by height. The tall (4 – 6 feet), robust shrubs you see blooming their hearts out in June are probably ‘August Beauty’. Since it is such a vigorous grower and because gardenias bloom on new wood, ‘August Beauty’ is sometimes described as “everblooming”.
You are doubtless aware that gardenia shrubs can be damaged by winter cold. Two, ‘Kleim’s Hardy’ and ‘Daisy’, are small (2 – 3 feet) plants reputed to be more cold hardy. Their blooms are single in form, as compared to the lush, double flowers of ‘August Beauty’.
A groundcover gardenia named ‘Radicans’ has been used in the South for many years. In maturity it grows to two feet tall but its susceptibility to freeze damage usually limits it to twelve inches or so. ‘Radicans’, ‘Kleim’s Hardy’ and ‘Daisy’ bloom in May, then sporadically through October.
A site that gets sunshine only until mid-afternoon seems to suit gardenias fine. Be sure to thoroughly mix soil conditioner with your native clay before planting.