Should I Deadhead Gardenias: Tips On Removing Spent Blooms On Gardenia

Should I Deadhead Gardenias: Tips On Removing Spent Blooms On Gardenia

By: Darcy Larum, Landscape Designer

Many southern gardeners fall in love with the sweet fragrance of gardenia blooms. These beautiful, fragrant, white flowers last for several weeks. Eventually, though, they will wilt and turn brown, leaving you wondering “should I deadhead gardenias?” Continue reading to learn why and how to deadhead a gardenia bush.

About Deadheading Gardenias

Gardenias are flowering evergreen shrubs hardy in zones 7-11. Their long lasting, fragrant white flowers bloom from late spring to fall. Each bloom can last several weeks before wilting. The wilted flowers then form into orange seed pods.

Removing spent blooms on gardenia will prevent the plant from wasting energy producing these seed pods and put that energy into creating new blooms instead. Deadheading gardenias will also keep the plant looking nicer throughout the growing season.

How to Deadhead a Gardenia Bush

When to deadhead gardenia flowers is right after the blooms fade and begin to wilt. This can be done anytime throughout the blooming season. With clean, sharp pruners, cut off the entire spent bloom just above a leaf set so you are not leaving odd-looking bare stems. Deadheading like this will also promote the stems to branch out, creating a thicker, fuller shrub.

Stop deadheading gardenias in late summer to early fall. At this point, you can leave the spent flowers on the shrub to form the orange seed pods that will provide winter interest. These seeds also provide food for birds in fall and winter.

You can also prune back your gardenia bush in fall to keep it compact or promote denser growth the following year. Do not prune back gardenias in spring, as this may cut off newly forming flower buds.

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How to Prune Chuck Hayes Gardenia

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Gardenias (Gardenia jasminoides), known for their fragrant flowers and dark, glossy foliage, work are well-suited as focal points and background plants in the landscape. "Chuck Hayes" gardenia (Gardenia jasminoides "Chuck Hayes") is extremely tolerant of cold and heat, providing evergreen foliage in a wide variety of settings. Unlike other cultivars with an average blooming period of two weeks, "Chuck Hayes" blooms for approximately four weeks in late spring to early summer. A relatively compact shrub with a maximum height of about 4 feet, "Chuck Hayes" only requires maintenance pruning to remove dead foliage and shape the plants.

Disinfect all pruning tools in a solution of diluted bleach one part bleach to three parts water works well. Soak tools for about 10 minutes and repeat after pruning diseased branches to prevent spreading disease among plants in the garden.

Pluck blooms off "Chuck Hayes" gardenias as they expire to encourage more blossoms on the plant. Deadheading makes room for another blossom to grow and makes the plant look more appealing.

Clip all dead and diseased branches at a 45-degree angle back to the the nearest healthy bud or intersecting branch.

Cut out any closely-spaced branches or forked branches with narrow crotches to allow more room for healthy branch growth. Choose the healthiest of two branches when pruning close branches.

Trim long branches just above a healthy bud to maintain a uniform shape.

Pinch the tips of "Chuck Hayes" gardenia branches in the first year to encourage branching for a fuller plant.

Deadheading gardenias, should it be done?

I'm new to gardenias. When we moved to SC, our new yard included 2 gardenia shrubs which didn't look too great. But we babied them and must've done some things right, because now we have SO many lovely blossoms. I'm just wondering, should I be removing the spent blooms? Once they turn brown, they don't look very nice with the newer blossoms, but I don't want to do the plant any harm by pinching off the dead ones.

I say get rid of the old blooms. Gardenias are pretty, and smell nice, but they attract aphids and other bugs like crazy. Doesn't hurt the plant at all to deadhead them. Good luck!

I dead head mine, just for looks, and when they finally finish blooming I whack them back to a reasonable size.

Years ago I topdressed the gardenias with worm castings and I have never had a problem with aphids or scale ever since.

ardesia, do you think that earthworm castings have the same effect on other plants you use it on? I try to create a welcome atmosphere for earthworms, but never buy castings

I have used them on both tropical and hardy hibiscus and the gardenias. I have taken to incorporating them into my potting mix for other plants this year and I have been seeing far fewer bugs. However, this may be just because the soil is amended and the plant grows healthier. This is one of those things that can't hurt to try.

Thanks, I'll try to find some around here :)

where would one go buy worm castings. sounds intereseting

I used to be able to get them at a garden Center but they no longer carry them. I am told bait shops sometimes sell the castings and perhaps you would have luck there.

You can also attract earthworms by putting things like coffee grounds, a little cornmeal, and shredded newspaper or cardboard around your plants-or make little bins with a little dirt and the above materials in a shady spot-out cardboard over the top and keep moist.

This will attract night crawlers, not the same as the bloodworms you get at bait shops -kinda easier just to buy the bait but you may be able to end up with a few different kinds of worms that way, which would be beneficial.

I have too many.If anyone would like them,all you have to do is come here and dig them out.

rebecca, get an old cooler and get some night crawlers and start your own worm bed.
I think there is a guy in Kitrell who still has work castings I'll try and check next week after we get back from the coast. Don't let me forget.
I need a road trip to Fairview also are you innterested in a road trip on Saturday the next week?
Met a nice lady from here on Tuesday. We swapped a flower.

This message was edited Jun 7, 2007 6:13 AM

I have "a can of worms" to make castings but I don't get nearly enough.

My worm bin is an old chest freezer. It works great and gives me a fairly good amount of castings. I tend to use them sparingly either using a small handful here and there amongst plants or brewing some worm tea which goes much further than just using the castings alone.

Red worms are a much better choice than night crawlers though as the night crawlers tend to prefer "escaping" and have much different habits than redworms.

As for dead heading gardenia, I pull them off when the flowers turn brown. I've seldom had problems with aphids unless it is on my younger plants that I'm growing in the greenhouse.

I'd like to know more about raising worms. I've never known anyone who did it so I don't have a clue. Do they just live their lives in confinement (your old chest freezer, for example), and what do they feed on, and how do you harvest their castings? I suppose this should be a separate thread though.

thea, there have been other threads regarding raising worms (vermicomposting) here on DG so perhaps a search will bring them up for you.

However, to briefly answer your questions above.

Some folks raise them in anything from home-made wooden boxes to store-bought worm bins as well as in pits in the ground (basically a designated area that is dug out and reserved only for raising the worms in).

They can be fed anything from manure (not human), kitchen scraps (no meat), newspaper, weeds pulled from your garden, cornmeal (as a treat and to encourage size), etc. It's a great way to utilize your kitchen scraps and let the worms turn it into compost/castings. The compost, or castings, are highly rich in nutrients and "just a little dab'll do ya"!

Commercial worm bins are often layered, starting the worms in a tray of scraps/food/etc and as they eat it then another tray is laid on top of the first tray and filled with food for them. The worms work their way up into the upper tray (being attracted to the food) and this leaves you with pretty much pure castings in the original tray.

As for me and my freezer bin, I have it divided in half with wire mesh separating the two halves. In one half I put the worms and the food and let them work it over the weeks/months, adding more food weekly or several times weekly. When that half contains a judicial amount of castings/compost I stop putting food in that side and will start putting it in the other side of the bin. This encourages the worms to move through the wire mesh and into the fresh side, thereby letting me harvest the finished compost/castings from the first side.

There is a great book (easy to read and contains all you need to know) called "Worms Eat My Garbage" if you're interested in learning more.

(You might find the book very inexpensive from the used books sections at

Hope this is helpful to you.
Happy Gardening!

Remove the gardenia bonsai’s dead and dying branches and stems during the dormancy period, after the blooms have finished flowering. Use sharp, sterile pruning shears to make flush cuts. Cut back the gardenia’s vigorously growing branches to develop shape. Trim back its vigorously growing branches periodically during the growing season to maintain shape and prevent a leggy appearance.

Replenish its soil environment every other year during the early spring, just before the onset of the growing season. Create an acidic loam with a pH that rests between 5.0 and 6.5. Repot the gardenia in the freshly mixed loam without root pruning. Water the gardenia immediately to promote a good establishment.

  • Feed this acid-loving bonsai with a fertilizer especially designed for acid-loving plants.
  • Cut back the gardenia’s vigorously growing branches to develop shape.

Why are my gardenia buds not opening?

Blooming after Propagation Gardenias are relatively easy to propagate, both from seed and from cuttings. Plants from seed, however, may take up to three years to flower, whereas softwood stem cuttings will usually flower in the next year.

Additionally, why do my gardenia buds turn brown and fall off? Light – Gardenias grow well in sun or partial shade. Too much shade causes poor flowering and flowers that brown and drop off prematurely. Pests – Mites are a common source of gardenia flower bud problems. Bud mites cause the tips of the buds to turn brown, and the buds fall off before they bloom.

Keeping this in view, why are my gardenia buds not blooming?

Improper pruning – When a gardenia plant is not blooming, the reason is often pruning too late in the season. Prune gardenia plants after flowering in summer, but before the plant has time to set new buds. Soil with an improper pH may be the reason when there are no blooms on gardenias.

Why are my gardenia buds turning yellow?

Poor drainage will cause both the leaves to yellow and buds to drop off. Another cause of yellow leaves is soil with a high pH. Too high, and the gardenia isn't able to take in nutrients including magnesium and iron, resulting in yellow leaves. Buds dropping off can also be caused by low humidity.

How do you revive a gardenia bush?

Irrigate your gardenias regularly to maintain moist soil, preferably through drip irrigation that keeps fungi-attracting moisture off foliage. Add a layer of mulch like pine needles to the area surrounding your gardenias without pressing the mulch against stems. Mulch improves water retention and keeps weeds at bay.

Subsequently, question is, why is my gardenia bush turning brown? If your Gardenia's leaves turn brown or display brown spots, this may be caused by any of these reasons: Water splashed on the leaves when watering the plant. Drip-irrigation will keep water off the foliage and flowers and prevents leaf spots. Poor soil drainage: Make sure your Gardenia soil is moist but well-drained.

Likewise, why is my gardenia bush dying?

Wet soil is just as bad as dry soil both can lead to plant death. Overwatering your gardenia may be caused by simply adding too much water to the soil, but it's also possible that the soil has poor drainage. Only water your gardenia if the soil doesn't feel somewhat moist about 1 inch down.

Is vinegar good for gardenias?

Gardenia pH Requirements Indoors or out, gardenias thrive in acidic soil. Acidifying soil with vinegar, which is 5 percent acetic acid, can lowers its pH to correct conditions for gardenias.

Watch the video: How to Make Gardenias Bloom All Year