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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.

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

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Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

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Tuesday - July 31, 2012

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

QUESTION:

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

ANSWER:

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.

 

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