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

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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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