Watering Gardenias

Gardenias are a beautiful and fragrant garden plant that can be planted in your yard or containers on a sunny patio. Once your gardenia plant has found a home in your yard in order for them to grow and thrive you will want to establish a regular watering schedule. These gorgeous plants can tolerate a bit of drought conditions but really do best with regular and consistent watering. Gardenia bushes do best with regular weekly watering.


You may need to do more during summer heat waves to keep the root system and plant healthy. You can also set your shrubs up on a timed or drip system as they do well with consistent watering. Gardenias can also be planted in containers and watered by hand. They need a sunny spot with good drainage. Too much water will cause the leaves on your plant to turn yellow and not produce blossoms. You also do not want your soil to become too dry. This too will affect the health of your plant. Dry cracked garden soil prevents your gardenia shrub from absorbing nutrients. To help keep soil moist and your plant healthy add about two to four inches of mulch around the base of your plant. This will help keep the soil moist but also let air circulate. 

How to tell if the plant needs watered: 

If your shrub begins to drop flower buds or leaves begin to dry out and wilt, this is a sure sign that your plant needs more water. Also look at the soil surface, if it is dry and cracking you need more water. You can monitor your soil for dryness by checking not only at the soil surface but digging down a few inches and checking at the root level. This is especially important when your plant is in full bloom.

Gardenia plants need about an inch of water per week on average. This may be increased depending where your shrub is growing. If it is planted in a full sun location you may need to increase the amount of water for your plant. Also shrubs planted next to concrete or heated buildings that warm the soil also tend to have higher water needs. 

How Often To Water Gardenias 

You will want to water your newly planted shrub a few times a week until the plant and root system is established. Then you can go to a regular weekly watering schedule. The soil should be moist but not boggy. Gardenias like well drained soil and do not like to have their roots sitting in water. You can test the soil at the surface but also at the root level for the first few weeks then adjust your water schedule. It should feel moist to the touch but not wet. Too much water can stress your plants out more than lack of water, as it can introduce disease and attract unwanted pests to your yard. 


If your shrub is planted where it will receive rain or water from an additional source such as lawn sprinklers. Check the soil moisture once a month to make sure you are constantly watering your plants but not over watering them. This is easily done by digging down a few inches to the root level and checking the moisture level of the soil. You can purchase soil-testing strips at most garden centers. However you can also use your finger, this is a method that gardeners have done for years. The soil should feel moist and hold together loosely but not muddy or wet. During the winter months when the plant is not actively growing or blooming, you may not even need additional water. For new plants it is a good idea to watch their water needs for a full year. This way you will be able to keep track of how much water to apply in the spring, summer, winter and fall. Gardenias like most plants do best on a regular schedule that changes with the seasons 

If you are growing your gardenia shrub in a container, you will need to water the plant more often than in the ground. Make sure your container has good drainage. Water the soil thoroughly. This may be every day during the warm summer months. If you live in a cooler climate and move your shrub indoors, keep the soil moist but do not overwater. Gardenia plants go dormant in the winter months and you do not want their roots sitting in water. This could lead to root damage. 

How to Water Gardenias 

You will want to water deeply at the base of your plant near the shrub’s trunk. You can use a garden hose, watering can, or a timed irrigation system. You may set up a drip irrigation system and give your shrub about an inch of water each week. If watering by hand, simply water at the base or trunk of your plant. You may shower your plant with water but be careful to not damage the delicate, fragrant flowers. These bruise very easily and can develop brown spots when handled or sprayed with water. If you are not using a timed irrigation system, you can set a garden hose at the base of your plant with a very slow trickle of water and leave for an hour or two. Watering regularly and deeply is best for healthy plants and allowing the soil to dry out between scheduled watering is best. 



Gardenia Watering Tips 

  • Be consistent, Gardenias need a regular watering schedule that changes with the seasons. 
  • Do not overwater; too much water can lead to pests and disease. 
  • Water at the base of the plant; use a garden hose, watering can or drip irrigation system.
  • Check soil moisture at the root level, not just at the soil surface. 
  • Increase water during periods of extreme heat such as the summer months. 
  • Reduce watering during the winter months, when the plant is dormant. 
  • Gardenias in containers or pots should have good drainage and not be overwatered.
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Author Janice Cox - Published 10-07-2021