White Flower On A Gardenia Shrub
prune gardenia
(Image credit: LFO62)

Gardenia bushes are the apple of the eye of more than a few warm-weather gardeners. And with good reason. With rich, dark green leaves and snowy, soft blossoms, the gardenia impresses on its looks alone, but it's not its looks that make the gardenia such a coveted garden addition. Gardenias have won the hearts of their gardeners because of the flower's exquisite scent.

How to Prune a Gardenia

For as beautiful as gardenias are, however, they are a shrub and like many shrubs, gardenias can benefit from being pruned occasionally. While it is not absolutely necessary to the health of the plant that you prune your gardenia shrub, pruning helps to keep your gardenia shrub shapely and the correct size for its location in your garden. 

Because pruning is not essential to the health of your gardenia, it does not have to be done every year. Pruning a gardenia every other year or so will be enough to keep its size manageable. You only need to prune enough to help your gardenia keep its appropriate size and shape. Make sure that you use sharp shears when pruning your gardenia, as this will help to prevent jagged cuts which can lead to disease in your gardenia shrub

There are many different theories about what kind of wood on a gardenia should be pruned, but for the most part, experts agree that it is okay to prune both green and brown wood on most varieties of gardenia. Most varieties of gardenia set buds on both the green and brown wood and, therefore, will set blooms regardless of where you prune the bush.

When to Prune a Gardenia

It is best to prune your gardenia shrub right after the blooms have faded in the summer. Gardenias will set their flower buds for the next year in the fall, so pruning in the summer will allow you to cut back some of the older wood without risking cutting away newly set buds. 

Most varieties of gardenia only bloom once a year, though breeders have developed a few varieties that can bloom more than once a year. Before pruning your gardenia, make sure to check that the variety that you own only blooms once or has completed its blooming cycle if it does bloom more than once. 

While it may be difficult for you to think about cutting away a little bit of such a luscious plant, the fact of the matter is that your gardenia will be much less likely to turn into an unruly beast if you give it a regular pruning.

Heather Rhoades
Founder of Gardening Know How

Heather Rhoades founded Gardening Know How in 2007. She holds degrees from Cleveland State University and Northern Kentucky University. She is an avid gardener with a passion for community, and is a recipient of the Master Gardeners of Ohio Lifetime Achievement Award.