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Question - How can I get my gardenia to produce more blooms?

I live in SE Massachusettes and bought a gardenia bush in Florida and I am wondering why I only get one flower each year. The bush receives at least 8 hrs of sun in the spring and summer and I bring it in the house in the winter. The bush looks very healthy. Can you advise?

Jackie Pannoni

Answers

You say the bush looks healthy, and you bring the plant indoors before it gets too cold. A day temperature of 65-70 degrees and below 65 degrees at night are ideal.
Dryness can cause foliage and bud loss.
Check that you are growing the plant in an ericaceous compost - the same type of compost that is used for rhododendrons and azaleas (the compost is obtainable from most garden centers) - they like an acid soil.

If you were sold the plant as a house plant in flower it may have been forced into flower, a common technique used by most commerical nurseries. Some plants are "photoperiodic". It means they can be forced into flower by controlling the number of hours of light and dark each day. Some varities of gardenia are short-day plants. They will flower if you put the plants into a closet, or somewhere completely dark, at 5 pm and take them out the following morning at 8 am for about 12 weeks. Commerical growers do this on a large scale by blacking out greenhouses completely with dark blinds. Then after 12 weeks, they are given normal or in winter, for the Christmas period, prolonged daylight hours until they flower and are sold. The long dark period (15 to 18 hours) allows a chemical transformation to take place in the plant that will eventually cause it to flower.

Brian Wood

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