How to Grow a Gardenia Bonsai
Most people prefer to cultivate and grow a gardenia bonsai because of its remarkable fragrance, strikingly beautiful flowers, and elegant appeal. The shrub is known for its glossy green leaves and delicate white flowers. While this plant may be grown outdoors in zones 7 to 9, you may consider this specie as a houseplant until the summer months. By doing so, you can protect your gardenia from being exposed to extreme or freezing temperatures that are detrimental to its health.
Location and Temperature
Gardenia bonsai trees require exposure to direct or infused light up to four hours each day to enhance foliage and flower growth. Ideal temperatures during the plant’s active growing season are between 70 and 85 degrees F, which is from spring to fall. During winter, though, it may be exposed to an area with temperatures not going below 45 degrees.
Since the plant needs extra humidity, you should place it beside other leafy shrubs or next to a tray filled with water and pebbles. However, it is not advisable to allow water to touch the planter’s bottom, so you can prevent overwatering the plant. You may also consider raising the humidity around the plant by misting the leaves as often as possible.
You may also place the gardenia outdoors to a semi-shady area when extreme temperatures have already passed. It is likely for the soil to dry out quickly outdoors, so make sure you adhere to the prescribed watering requirements for your gardenia.
Watering the Plant
Make it a point to keep the soil moist without being soggy. During warmer months, you may have to water your gardenia every other day. The best way to determine if your plant needs water is by checking the feel and color of the soil’s surface. The soil tends to have a lighter color once it dries up, and the surface feels quite dry to the touch, which means you need to water the plant.
Place the gardenia in a shallow dish with about 2 inches of water, and allow the plant to soak moisture for at least 20 minutes or when the soil starts to feel and look moist. In case the soil dries out completely, simply immerse the pot in water of 5 minutes or more until the soil is completely wet.
Pruning the Bonsai
In the early spring, you may begin cutting long and unbranched growths that will maintain the plant’s bushy appearance. When pruning, just keep the cut above the leaf joint. Since gardenias have flower buds growing at the ends of their branches, you should avoid pinching out all branches. After flowering, then this is the time to prune these branches to enhance your plant’s shape.
Fertilizing Gardenia Bonsai Trees
It is advisable to use half-strength acid-type fertilizer once a month from the onset of spring through autumn. If you notice that some new leaves are turning yellow with green veins, you may apply iron chelate fertilizer to improve their appearance.
Keep in mind that gardenia flower buds are prone to drop off before they start to bloom. Various factors may cause this condition such as over or under watering, insufficient amount of light, night temperatures exceeding 70 degrees, sudden changes in temperature, and premature bud drop. Another possible reason why older leaves turn yellow or drop off include frequently dry soil, so make sure you follow watering requirements to prevent this from occurring.