Transplanting Gardenia Plants – Planting Gardenia Somewhere New

By: Heather Rhoades

Though gardenia plants are very beautiful, they are notoriously tricky to take care of. Growing gardenias is hard enough, so it’s no wonder that many gardeners shudder at the thought of transplanting gardenia plants.

Care of a Gardenia Bush Prior to Transplanting

Proper care of a gardenia bush prior to transplanting is crucial to the success of transplanting. Make sure that your gardenia is in the best shape possible, free of fungus and pests. If your gardenia is ailing from any problems, do not attempt to transplant it until you have addressed its current issues.

Best Time for Transplanting Gardenia Bushes

The best time to transplant gardenia plants is in the fall, after the plant has finished blooming. Gardenia plants transplant best when the weather is cool and the plant is slowing down. About a week before transplanting gardenia bushes, prune the branches back by one-quarter or one-third. This will reduce the overall size of the growing gardenias and allow them to focus more on their root system.

Best Location for Gardenias

Gardenia plants need rich soil with light shade. They also need soils that have a pH balance between 5.0 and 6.0. Choose a location that has organic, rich soil or amend the soil prior to transplanting gardenia bushes.

Transplanting Gardenia

Once you are ready to transplant your gardenia, prepare the hole where the gardenia will be moved. The less time growing gardenias spend out of the soil, the better the chances that they will survive.

When digging up your gardenia plants, dig as big a rootball as possible around the plant. The more soil and roots around the gardenia that go with the gardenia to the new location, the better chance your plant has to survive.

Once you get the gardenia to its new location, backfill to fill any gaps and tamp the rootball down firmly to ensure good contact with the soil around the hole. Water thoroughly, then water every other day for one week following.

Transplanting gardenia plants can be easy if it is done carefully.

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Gardenias: Plant Care and Collection of Varieties

About gardenias
Plant gardenias near a deck or window where you can enjoy the flowers' fragrance. The plants grow from 2 to 8 feet tall and wide, depending on the variety. Most gardenias grow into a round shape with dark green, glossy leaves and white, fragrant flowers that bloom from mid-spring into summer. Avoid planting gardenias near a concrete walk or foundation where the pH maybe too high for good growth.

Special features of gardenias

Planting Instructions
Plant in spring or fall, spacing plants 3 to 6 feet apart. Have the soil tested to determine pH, and if necessary add the recommended amount of sulfur to reduce the pH to between 5 and 6. Dig a hole only as deep as the root ball and 2 to 3 times as wide. If your soil is in very poor condition, amend the soil you've removed from the hole with a small amount of compost. Otherwise don't amend it at all. Carefully remove the plant from the container and set it in the hole. Fill the hole half full with soil, then water it well to settle the soil and eliminate air pockets. Let the water drain, then fill the remainder of hole with soil and water thoroughly.

Choosing a site to grow gardenias
Select a site with full sun to light shade and moist, rich, well-drained soil. Gardenias prefer acidic soil with a pH between 5.0 and 6.0.

Ongoing Care
Gardenias require at least an inch of rain (or equivalent watering) each week. Apply a 2- to 4-inch layer of organic mulch to help keep soil moist, reduce weeding, and maintain a constant soil temperature. Feed monthly during the growing season with an acidifying fertilizer. Prune in early spring to shape the bush, and deadhead after flowering to encourage more flowering. Check periodically for white flies and mealybugs, using a horticultural oil or insecticidal soap to control these pests. In regions where the plant is marginally hardy, protect bushes from hard freezes and drying winter winds.

See more information about Gardenias:

Help! My gardenia's tips are starting to turn brown

I'm new to houseplants & have taken on quite an endeavor! My gardenia's leaf tips are starting to turn brown. I check the soil religiously for moisture content, feed every other week with Miracid, it sits under a blue & red led grow light all day, the temp in my house is around 72 & the humidity averages @ about 65% so I keep it on some rocks on a tray with water. I have a vaporizor below it that uns 24/7. When I switched methods of heating the temp dropped down to about 65 & I usually have the grow light on for for all day. What do you suppose is going on? It is otherwise healthy & is getting ready to give me it's first flower! Oh & for the record, I'm not crazy. I have several other houseplants & an indoor greenhouse. Thus the climate control.

If you're not over-watering, you probably have developed a high concentration of soluble salts in the soil. If you're fertilizing at suggested strengths and not flushing the soil every time you water, there is little question you're over-fertilizing.

Thank you! I just checked the soil this morning & it was pretty soggy. I think somehow they are sucking up the water from the tray. The night blooming jasmine's soil is just as soggy & they sit next to each other. Maybe if I add more rocks & make the mound they sit on a little higher up? So how do I test for salt content, or is there such a test? The jasmine's leaves are fine, as is their tray mate an african violet.

You need to do something to ensure the effluent in the collection saucer can never find it's way back into the soil once it's exited the soil. There ARE ways to measure the EC/TDS of the soil solution, but if you abandon practices that guarantee a build-up of solubles (like watering in small sips instead of flushing the soil) it won't be an issue. The problems we're discussing - excess water retention, lack of aeration, poor drainage, compaction, a high level of salts in the soil . can all be avoided by simply adopting an appropriate soil - one that allows you to water correctly w/o having to worry about the soil remaining soggy for an excessively long time. Let me know if you have more questions, or if you think there might be anything else I can help with.

Oh yes please! Right now I have a bag of organic potting soil, a bag of perlite, & one of peat moss. Would any combination of these work? If so @ what ratios? If not what would you recommend? Also would it be something I could use for my other plants? I've mentioned the jasmine & african violet but I also have a dwarf meyer lemon that could use a transplant also. I also am germinating several different seeds & so far have a baby passionflower. Is there something that could benefit all of these guys?

When I caught the bonsai bug some 20+ years ago, I discovered I couldn't keep my trees alive in shallow containers because the soils I was using were working against me. Once I switched to soils made of larger particles, it was like throwing a switch - everything got easier. Mixing fine ingredients with more fine ingredients + a soil made of fine ingredients = excessive water retention. Adding perlite to peat/compost-based soils reduces o/a water retention, but doesn't appreciably help with aeration, drainage, or to reduce the ht of the perched water table unless the particles are large enough and you've added enough perlite - somewhere in the 70-80% range.

Imagine a quart of sand with a pint of BBs mixed in. Do the BBs improve aeration/drainage/ht of the PWT? No, they don't. Now, start subtracting sand. At what point do we reach the threshold where the BBs start to do some good? The answer is, when there is not enough sand to fill the spaces between the BBs. The same id true with peat or compost based soils and perlite. It doesn't help notably with aeration or drainage until there is so much perlite the finer ingredients cannot fill the spaces between the perlite particles.

The KEY is to avoid starting with a large volume of fine particles, and trying to AMEND them with large particles. It does very little good to add a small fraction of perlite or pine bark to peat or compost . but if you START with a large volume of pine bark or other coarse ingredients - you already have, built into the soil, excellent drainage/aeration, and a PWT reduced in height or absent altogether.

The answer to your question is, you CAN build a decent soil out of the 3 ingredients mentioned, but it would have to include a very large fraction of coarse perlite . and it would be less expensive and almost certainly better for the plants if you relied on pine bark as the base for your soil instead of perlite or one of the other commonly used fine ingredients already mentioned.

If you can make the time, you might find some value in the sticky thread at the top of this forum.

Q. gardenia bush dropping buds

I just purchased a gardenia bush and have it inside next to a huge window. The buds are dropping and there is a white oily substance on the bush at the joint on some of the stem. It is putting on new leaves but I concerned. Never seen this before. Thanks, Marste

This can happen for a number of reasons. Most likely it is a pest problem. This article will help you determine which may be affecting your plant:

Applying this Knowledge

Learning a plant's growth habit such as how deep the roots grow is important. It can help you successfully grow a gardenia or another shrub.


Knowing this simple fact also helps you understand why gardenias cannot tolerate droughts and need constantly moist soil. Plants with shallow root systems tend to need more water, especially surface water. Since the root system of plants drinks in the water and nutrients from the soil, they can only access what they're in contact with. A plant that sends down deep roots can survive droughts better its roots can tap into moisture far below the surface and withstand longer periods between rain. Not so for the shallow-rooted plant, which needs moist soil. If the soil around the roots dries out, a shallow rooted shrub such as a gardenia experiences great stress and may even die.

To prevent the soil from drying out, water frequently. Apply a thick layer of mulch around the plant. Mulch not only keeps water from evaporating but it suppresses weeds, too.


If you understand the root structure of the gardenia, you can also use this knowledge to your advantage when transplanting the shrub. To move a gardenia, dig the new hole first. Dig the hole about as wide as the mature shrub and about as deep as the width.Before digging in with your shovel or spade, try a few exploratory pokes around the shrub's perimeter. If you hit roots, go out even wider than the shrub itself. The more soil you can dig up around the plant when you transplant it, the less you'll disturb the root system and the happier the plant will be. Very carefully dig around the entire gardenia, then dig down as deeply as you need to in order to dig up the main root system. Bring some of the old soil with you to the new planting hole. Be sure to tamp (press) down the soil around the transplanted gardenia carefully. Water thoroughly, mulch, and water the shrub daily until signs of new growth appear.

Common Pests/ Diseases

Hellebores don't get bothered by many insects, except for aphids. Affected parts can be removed, then spray the plant with horticultural oil or another pesticide.

The common diseases are usually fungal in origin: leaf spot and downy mildew, both of which can be treated with fungicides if the infection is severe.

One quite serious disease carries the ominous name "Black Death" which causes stunted plants and black streaks. It is caused by the Helleborus net necrosis virus, transmitted by aphids. If a plant is affected, your only recourse is to remove the plant entirely. Treat for aphids to prevent the spread of this disease.

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