The gardenia is a popular plant which is used in many gardens, and is known for its beautiful flowers. If you grow gardenias, mulching them is a good idea because it's easy, inexpensive, and can help your plants stay healthy. Here are some tips you can use when using mulching a gardenia.
Reasons to Mulch
Mulching gardenias is a good idea for several reasons. First, and probably most importantly, mulching helps keep soil temperatures moderate. Gardenias grow best with soil temperatures of 70 degrees F during the day and 60 degrees F during the night. If your region often has temperatures outside this range, mulching will have a noticeable benefit to your gardenia's health.
Mulch also minimizes weed growth by preventing weeds from getting sunlight, saving you time and effort, and reducing the amount of competition your gardenias will suffer. Some mulches also add nutrients to your soil. Wood chips, sawdust, and coffee grounds, for example, will add acid to your soil, which some plants, including the gardenia, thrive on. Others mulches can provide a variety of different nutrients.
In addition, many mulches are dyed and can be more aesthetically pleasing than bare soil. This can be a very important thing to consider in a decorative garden with flowering plants such as gardenias.
What to Use
There are many possible materials, both commercial and otherwise, that you can mulch with. For gardenias, you should use wood chip or sawdust mulch. Wood chip mulch is excellent for limiting weed growth, moisture retention, and temperature control. On top of these benefits, wood chip and sawdust mulch can increase acidity of your soil, which is good for gardenias.
Wood chips and saw dust are readily available and should be inexpensive, if not free. Many businesses or government agencies that deal with lumber or trees are dying to get rid of the sawdust and wood chips they accumulate. Consider asking a local saw mill, lumber yard, or carpenter shop if they give away sawdust or wood chips.
How to Mulch
Before you begin mulching, it is a good idea to build a barrier around the area you plant your gardenias in. You can use bricks, stones, or anything that matches the decorations you already have in your garden. It doesn't need to be fancy, and it doesn't need to be more than a few inches tall. The important thing is to have a barrier that prevents mulch from blowing away, or washing away when you water your plants, or when it rains. With this method, you will have to reapply mulch less frequently.
Now that you have selected your mulch and prepared your area, it is time to apply your mulch. Place your mulch around the base of your plants. Don't be stingy — there's no reason to. You should put down 4 to 6 inches of mulch, and you should fill the entire area that you have blocked off with your barrier.
Ideally, you should do this when you plant your gardenias. They will be at their most vulnerable then, and the extra protection mulching provides will be the most useful.