Fool Proof GardeniaGardenia hybrid 'Leesix' (PP# 32,472)
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Gardenia hybrid 'Leesix' (PP# 32,472)
Outdoor Growing zone
Full Sun, Partial Sun
The Fool Proof™ Gardenia is a breakthrough in re-blooming gardenias, producing a huge display in spring, followed by continuing flushes of flowers from early summer into fall. The large blooms are fully-double, pure white and rich with the powerful fragrance of gardenia, the most wonderful perfume in the world. It quickly grows into a bush reaching 4 feet tall and 3 feet wide, making a perfect specimen or center-piece in your garden beds. The handsome glossy green leaves are unusually slender, giving an elegant and graceful look to the plant. It can also be grown in a tub or pot.
A spot with morning sun and afternoon shade is the perfect location for the Fool Proof™ Gardenia. It grows best in rich, moist, slightly acidic soil that is well-drained. Keep it damp, but don’t overwater. This bush is more resistant to pests, diseases and adverse environmental conditions that other varieties and much easier to grow.
Everyone loves gardenias, but they are, as most gardeners know, not the easiest plants to grow. That is what ‘Buddy’ Lee, the inventor of the Autumn Encore Azaleas knew too, so he set about trying to fix that. Using his proven breeding skills, he has developed a new range of gardenias that are reblooming, much more reliable, and easier to grow. Yet they still have beautiful double blooms, and they are just as beautifully scented. If you haven’t yet tried growing gardenias in your garden, the Fool Proof™ Gardenia is the place to start. If you have, and failed, this is your chance to succeed. The big difference with older forms is how continuous the blooming is, with an abundant display in spring, and then more blooms all through summer and fall. There will always be blooms ready for your corsage when you go to the grand ball. This bush is more resistant to pests and diseases, less affected by cold and heat, and the unique slender leaves give it a lighter look that fits into any garden. No longer do you need special skills and lots of time and patience to grow lovely gardenias – this one is foolproof.
The Fool Proof™ Gardenia is a rounded evergreen shrub that soon grows 3 to 4 feet tall and about 3 feet wide. It has an attractive upright form and remains bushy to the ground for many years. The leaves are very glossy and a rich dark green. They are almost 3 inches long, but just over ½ inch wide – a unique slender shape that give this bush a special look, distinct from other gardenias. Plants flower profusely in spring, and then once the new growth matures a little, cycles of reblooming take place from early summer right into fall. There are almost always some blooms on this bush, for your enjoyment. The flowers are between 2 and 3 inches across, with a high center and they are double, with an outer whorl of 6 petals and an inner center of 10 petals which form a tight bloom. The petals are pure white, with a thick, lustrous texture and of course that wonderful, wonderful scent of gardenias, one of the most beautiful fragrances in the world. Flowers last for several days, slowly turning first cream and then pale yellow, until they shrivel and fall off naturally.
With its tolerance of some shade the Fool Proof Gardenia is perfect for planting beside a path through your garden, or next to your porch steps. Use it to edge beds, or plant it as a specimen among azaleas, or in front of your camellia bushes. It can also be used as a beautiful container plant, kept outdoors all year in the warmest zones, or given some winter shelter in a porch or indoors for the coldest months, if you live in a cooler area. Container growing also means you can grow this plant whatever zone you live in.
The Fool Proof Gardenia is hardy outdoors from zone 7 into zones 9 and 10.
The ideal location for the Fool Proof Gardenia is a spot where it has morning sun and afternoon shade, such as an east-facing wall or fence. Some sun is beneficial for maximum flowering, but direct afternoon sun can easily burn the foliage. Light dappled shade beneath trees is also suitable, but don’t plant it in deep, permanent shade. The soil should be evenly-moist, rich in organic material, but well-drained. It should also be acidic, although if you apply iron chelates regularly it can be grown in neutral to slightly alkaline soils without much problem. Dig plenty of lime-free compost or rotted leaves into the soil before planting, and mulch around the roots in spring with more.
Gardenias don’t like root disturbance, so don’t cultivate around the root system. Use mulch instead to control weeds, and this will also conserve moisture and keep the roots cool. Use liquid fertilizers for acid-loving plants, especially if you are growing in a container or pot. Make sure pots have drainage holes and use a compost designed for acid-loving plants. Pruning is not usually needed, but if you want to trim to control the size, do this straight after the spring flowering ends, and don’t trim back summer shoots, as that will prevent re-blooming. This variety has improved resistance to the pests and diseases that can affect other varieties, and it is less likely to be damaged by cold snaps or hot spells. Water regularly, but don’t water if the soil is already damp.
The gardenia, Gardenia jasminoides, is also called Cape jasmine, although it doesn’t come from southern Africa, but from India, Vietnam, southern China and Japan. It has been grown for its fragrance in those eastern countries for at least a thousand years. When it arrived in Charleston, South Carolina around 1762 it became an instant hit, and it was soon being grown all across the South. Its intoxicating perfume makes us think of hot, sultry summer evenings and grand balls.
Most varieties of gardenia bloom in spring, just once a year. Robert Lee, or ‘Buddy’, made his reputation as a plant breeder developing the Autumn Encore Azaleas, and his skill in finding plants that re-bloom is renowned. More recently he has turned his attention to gardenias, planting many different varieties at his nursery in Independence, Louisiana. In 2007 he collected many seeds from this collection, and grew them into blooming plants. Among them were some that re-bloomed, and he chose one outstanding plant in 2010 for further trials. In 2020 he patented this plant with the name ‘Leesix’. It is made available to gardeners with the trademark name of Fool Proof™, as part of the Southern Living® Plant Collection.
This is your big chance to have gardenias in your garden not just in spring, but all the way through into fall as well. Full of perfume, fully double, and with graceful glossy leaves, this bush will be a center-piece in your planting. Order now, because everyone wants that chance, and our plants will soon be gone.