Gardenias are wonderful and exotic plants grown for their rich fragrance and glossy, evergreen foliage. Kleim’s Hardy Gardenia is the hardiest of them all, growing well even in the relatively cold areas of zone 7, with temperatures all the way down to zero Fahrenheit. It has pure-white flowers 2 inches across, with thick petals and yellow stamens showing in the center. It has the same rich fragrance that makes gardenias so popular wherever they can be grown. It grows into a small shrub 2 to 3 feet tall, and rounded, growing 2 to 3 feet across. This makes it ideal for a smaller garden, or for growing in pots, when it can be moved around the garden to enjoy its perfume everywhere. You can even make a low hedge with this plant. To keep it flowering, only prune in early spring, just when the weather begins to warm. Flowers are produced continuously from June to October, so throughout the ‘outdoor’ months you will have this beautiful plant in flower. Even when not flowering, Kleim’s Hardy Gardenia is beautiful, with its glossy, rich-green evergreen foliage giving structure and permanence to your shrub arrangements.
Gardenias have been a part of Southern gardens for over 250 years, when plants were brought to Charleston, South Carolina from their natural home in China. Their name is American too, because the botanist John Ellis had the plant named after his friend and fellow naturalist Dr. Alexander Garden, who had a medical practice in Charleston and grew the plant as early as 1761. The gardenia, Gardenia jasminoides, is also called the Cape jasmine, and it grows wild from India into Vietnam and southern China, as well as in Japan. The Chinese people have grown these plants for a thousand years, to enjoy their fragrance and beauty.
However, these plants are usually only hardy to zone 8, so if you live in colder areas you cannot have their delicious fragrance wafting across your garden. Now there is an answer for those who live as far north as Virginia and Delaware, with Kleim’s Hardy Gardenia. This plant was discovered by Don Kleim of the Henderson Experimental Garden in California. He introduced it specifically for colder areas, and it is a real favorite with gardenia lovers in colder parts of the country. Even if your garden is too cold in winter for this variety, you can grow it in a container and bring it into a porch or cold room during the coldest weather, and grow it outdoors for the rest of the year.
Although sometimes thought difficult, gardenias are actually easy to grow if you create the right conditions and follow a few simple rules. Choose a sheltered spot, away from wind, in a partially shaded location. The ideal spot has morning sun and afternoon shade, especially during the hottest months, so choose the location with care. Gardenias like an acid soil (pH below 6.0), so test you soil and add plenty of lime-free organic material when preparing the planting spot. Well-rotted pine-bark is ideal, but other composts are also suitable. Even if you find your soil is not acidic enough, you can still grow Kleim’s Hardy Gardenia by using a special fertilizer called chelated iron, which you water onto your plant and soil in spring and again in late summer. This will keep the leaves a rich, dark green, and your plant strong, healthy and flowering well. Alternatively, plant your gardenia in a container, using potting soil for acid-loving plants. Gardenias make great pot plants, and a plant in a container is also easy to move around to get the correct amount of sun exposure. In a pot, it can also be brought inside when the temperatures are too low, even if you only have an unheated porch for shelter.
Kleim’s Hardy Gardenia is a special selection of the ordinary gardenia, so it must be propagated in the correct way to preserve its hardiness. Our bushes are grown from branch cuttings taken directly from correctly-identified plants. Each one is always identical to the original. These take longer to produce, and cheaper gardenias will only be a disappointment, as they will not be this very special variety.
Mulch Kleim’s Hardy Gardenia in spring with pine bark, compost or peat-moss and keep it well-watered. Gardenias like plenty of water, so never let the soil become dry around your plant. Water whenever the soil begins to dry on the surface, but don’t water your plant so much that it is constantly in wet soil. Use a fertilizer for acid-loving plants, applied in early spring and again 6 weeks later, or use a liquid gardenia fertilizer according to the directions. Do not fertilize in late summer or fall, as new growth will be more susceptible to frost.
Once that delicious perfume wafts across your garden from your gardenia bush, this little bit of work will seem like nothing. Kleim’s Hardy Gardenia is a wonderful plant and we regularly receive new stock to ship the best plants to our customers. Because if its unique hardiness, the demand for this wonderful plant is high, so order now or you could easily be disappointed later.