UACES Facebook Gardenia
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November 2012

QuestionPlease tell me how and when to prune a 40 year old gardenia that has grown to 12-15 ft at least. It was in my yard when I moved in 39 years ago, about 4 - 5 feet wide at the time. I have never pruned it except to cut blooms off for bouquets. It blooms faithfully every June and September...this year on through October. It seems to have several trunks but I cannot see it clearly. If I cut some of the branches way back at the bottom, will it be harmed? I don't know whether to trim it back into some shape. It is really too big and overtaking some azaleas planted at least ten feet from the trunk.


AnswerIf it needs pruning, do so as soon after it blooms in June next year. The flower buds are set now for that bloom period, so any pruning now would reduce your flowering. Another reason not to prune in the fall is that it would take away some winter protection. Gardenias can struggle in a really cold winter, so leave it as is until next summer.

 March 2014

QuestionI live in Little Rock and have a gardenia bush that is about 5' tall.  It got severe winter damage and a lot of the leaves are dead.  Today I trimmed a large amount of the branches.  I cut out close to 50% of the bush.  Should I go ahead and shape it, or wait until new growth sets in.  I hope I did right by cutting out the damage.  I hope the cold weather is behind us at this late date!



I have not pruned, since I am waiting and praying that the damage I have on my gardenias is minimal and they will still bloom this summer—it may be wishful thinking. Remember that when a gardenia heads into winter, it has its flower buds set.  If it gets nipped back or pruned back, it won’t bloom this year—except for hopefully, a few late, late blooms.  Since you have already cut ½ of the bush, I see no reason to wait to shape, since you have cut off any potential flowers. We have had a few more nippy days this past week, but hopefully that is the end of it.  Fertilize when you see a lot of new growth coming on, and give your plant some TLC this summer to help it recover.  Some gardenia plants have been frozen back to the soil line, but we can hope all begin to regrow soon. The saving grace is that a flowering plant that doesn’t flower does produce copious amounts of foliage, so hopefully will rebound quickly.