Gardenias are the quintessential southern garden shrub. The elegant snow-white flowers blooming against the deep green of their evergreen leaves exude calm and beauty. Their good looks combined with their intense fragrance make Gardenias a fabulous shrub for almost any size garden.
Gardenias thrive in acidic soils with a pH around 5.0 and require shade during the hottest parts of the day. These shrubs are typically used in a foundation planting where their sweet scent can be enjoyed when the windows are open. However, they also can be used in mixed informal hedges, as specimens in a cottage or cut flower garden, and even in a planter dressing up a patio or deck.
Shrubs To Plant With Gardenia
Gardenias combine well with other acid-loving shrubs to create a low-maintenance mixed shrub border. Mixed shrub borders are one of the easiest ways to give your landscape four seasons of interest. Like Gardenias, rhododendrons, azaleas, and camellias prefer full sun in the morning and then shade during the hottest part of the day. Other evergreens such as boxwood, yew, and false cypress add foliage texture when planted as a backdrop for Gardenias. The summer-blooming sweetspire, summersweet, heirloom roses, and crepe myrtle stand out next to the deep glossy green of the Gardenia leaves and continue to bloom long after Gardenias have finished for the summer.
Perennials To Plant With Gardenias
When designing a mixed shrub and perennial border in partial shade, consider using Gardenias as the ‘bones’ of the garden. The deep green of Gardenias against shade-loving plants like ferns, cast iron plant, hostas, sedges, and toad lilies creates a calming and soothing effect on a hot summer’s day. Gardenias also pair well with perennials in sunnier parts of the garden. Use Gardenias as a complementary backdrop for the strong shapes and bold flowers of salvia, dahlias, and asiatic lilies.
Annuals To Plant With Gardenia
Annuals can be used as temporary ground cover in front and between Gardenia shrubs. The lower-growing types such as bacopa, wax begonia, and impatiens grow well in the shade cast by the larger shrubs. For areas with more sun, plant osteospermum, scabiosa, and fan flowers to add color to the garden bed after Gardenias have finished blooming.
Best Companion Plants For Gardenias in Containers
In a container, Gardenias pair best with shallow-rooted annuals that serve as spillers, trailing over the edge of the pot to soften the look of the planting. Alyssum, bacopa, lobelia, annual vinca vine, and calibrachoa all work well in this role. Ensure any container you use has excellent drainage because Gardenias do not tolerate wet feet. Because Gardenias are heavy feeders, make sure to fertilize planters on a regular schedule. Use a diluted liquid feed that is formulated for blooming acid lovers. A ratio of NPK close to 1-3-2 will support good flowering and root growth as well as lush foliage. Feed once a month during the active growing season of March through August.
Plants Not To Grow With Gardenias
Even though Gardenias mix with a long list of shrubs and perennials, several plants do not enjoy the same growing conditions and would not grow well with Gardenias. Cacti and succulents require hot, direct sun and will become spindly and leggy in shady sites. Also avoid overly scented plants, like Asiatic lilies and roses, which may overwhelm a space with fragrance. Select fragrant plants that bloom well after Gardenias, so each plant can be smelled and enjoyed.
Best Plants To Grow With Gardenias
Gardenias are somewhat particular about their growing conditions and prefer sun early in the day and dappled shade for the rest of the day. They also require impeccable drainage all year long to continue growing strong. An outstanding combination with Gardenias includes camelia, azalea, and sweetspire to provide color and structure in the garden during all four seasons.