En EspaŅol

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?


Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Tuesday - July 31, 2012

From: Southampton, ON
Region: Canada
Topic: Non-Natives, Shrubs
Title: Non-native gardenias in Southampton Ontario
Answered by: Barbara Medford


I purchased 3 gardenias this year for the garden. Now I'm told that I can't leave them out all year round here in mid/western Ontario. Is this true, and if so, how do I keep them over the winter in the house? Confused in Southampton Ontario Canada


One of the first instructions we would like to give to gardeners is to make two trips to the nursery. The first one is to select plants you are interested in, write everything you can find on the label down and go home and search on the plant on the Internet. If it appears that plant will thrive without major intervention (such as building a greenhouse) then you can go back and buy it. If you are ordering from a catalog, you will at least not have to make 2 trips to the nursery; but you still need to turn away from the gorgeous pictures and glowing descriptions and research the plant objectively.

Gardenia is a genus of 143 species, native to Africa and southern Asia. In North America, it is considered a plant for the southeastern gardens of the United States. From the University of Rhode Island, here is a fact sheet on gardenias. The article mentions growing it in a pot in full sun (sunny window?) in the winter in colder areas or planting in a sheltered spot and wrapping it in the winter.

When we searched the Internet on "growing gardenias in Canada" we found this article from Top Tropicals on growing gardenias, that said their outside planting should only be in USDA Hardiness Zones 9 and 10. This Atlas of Canada Plant Hardiness Map indicates that your location in Bruce County, on the shores of Lake Huron, is approximately 3B.

Since these are not plants native to North America, which is the center of interest for the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, home of Mr. Smarty Plants, we really can't tell you what you should do with your (in-ground, we presume) plants. We do hope you plan ahead next time.


More Shrubs Questions

Plants for farm animals from East Greenwich RI
May 03, 2014 - What type of perennial flowers and shrubs are safe to plant around farm animals (dogs, horses, chickens, turkeys) in New England climate?
view the full question and answer

Evergreen flowering shrub for San Antonio, TX
May 20, 2013 - Need a suggestion for an evergreen flowering bush, 3 ft tall for shady area by front door. Have gardenia bushes there now - did well until we had a hard freeze and have struggled ever since. Ideas ple...
view the full question and answer

Leaves falling off a hibiscus twice a year in Woodland Hills CA
October 09, 2009 - I have 8 hibiscus bushes and only 1 of them loses its leaves twice a year. Why?
view the full question and answer

What to do about leaf spot on Vaccinium myrsinites in Clearwater FL?
June 24, 2010 - I have recently planted many Vaccinium myrsinites (shiny blueberry) in my yard. These plants seem to have many dead twig branches without leaves. The remaining leaves have red spots. I visited a na...
view the full question and answer

Dwarf foundation plants for St. Augustine FL
May 03, 2010 - Need to put in fast, low growing (3' max) foundation plants that would be frost hardy and work well in the St. Augustine area of Northeast Florida.
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center