How to Prune Shrubs & Gardenias

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    • 1). Prepare your pruning shears before attempting to prune your gardenia; the woody stems of the gardenia can be damaged by rusty, dull or dirty shears. Sharpen the blades using a whetstone, remove nicks by filing them smooth, and disinfect them before using by cleaning with a weak bleach solution made by mixing 1 part ordinary household bleach with 10 parts water.

    • 2). Check to make sure your gardenia has completed its blooming cycle. Even though the blossoms have fallen off, the gardenia may bloom again, as some cultivars have blooming cycles more than once a year. Check with the nursery where you bought the plant if you have any doubts.

    • 3). Prune your gardenia to shape it immediately after it has finished blooming--usually in late summer or early fall, which allows older wood to be cut back without jeopardizing next season's blooms. Use a bypass-type set of pruning shears to snip off protruding, crossed or leggy branches; for a pleasing, symmetrical shape, try to cut roughly the same amount off all around the shrub. Be careful not to cut too deeply into your gardenia shrub. According to the Garden Love to Know website, you should never cut a branch or stem shorter than 4 to 6 inches from the base of the plant; there will not be enough foliage or growth left to support it.

    • 4). Trim off any branches that are without growth, or that are brittle, dry or broken. These are either dead or dying, and if not removed can serve as entry points for fungal infection and insect pests.

    • 5). Cut away some branches toward the center of the shrub if your gardenia is very dense, in order to open up the shrub and allow increased air circulation and sunlight.

    • 6). Disinfect pruning shears after use by dipping or soaking them in the weak bleach solution.

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