Australian Guide To Pruning Gardenias

With their delightful sweetly scented flowers, gardenias are a popular shrub for many Australian gardeners.

Like all shrubs grown in the garden, gardenias do benefit from some regular pruning to maintain their shape. This also stops the plant from becoming too leggy with too much woody growth.

Pruning does have to be done at the right time so that you don’t miss out on those lovely flowers.

Plus, there are ways that you can prune your plants to give them a lovely rounded shape and promote lots of green growth.

Let’s first discuss the perfect time for pruning gardenias in Australia.

When To Prune Gardenias

gardenia 1 | Plant care

To maximise the number of flowers that you get on your gardenia, you want to avoid pruning them during the warmer months. This is primarily when they produce those gorgeous scented blooms.

Therefore, you should prune your gardenias in autumn once flowering has finished. If you prune your plants during late spring or summer, you’ll invariably prune off some of the emerging flower buds.

However, you do want to deadhead your gardenias right through the flowering season.

How to Deadhead Gardenias

Deadheading refers to removing the spent flower heads. So, once the flowers start to turn brown and have come to the end of their life, just cut them off with a sharp pair of secateurs or garden snips. 

You want to cut off the spent flower stem just to where the next set of leaves is below the stem. This will mean that new growth will emerge at this point. Ultimately, this will make your plant bushier.

Deadheading your gardenia serves two purposes:

  1. Those brown, dead flowers look a bit unsightly. Pruning them off makes the plant look better. 
  2. When you remove the spent flowers, it encourages the plant to continue to produce more blooms.

Once autumn arrives and the flowers have all finished, it’s time to give your plant an overall prune. If it’s quite a young plant, an overall tip prune to maintain its shape should be enough.

However, for older plants that have a bit more woody growth, you can consider giving your plant a harder prune. This will encourage more green growth once spring arrives. 

How To Prune Gardenias

gardenia 2 | Plant care

We’ve already discussed deadheading your gardenias during the warmer months, so let’s now look at how to prune your plants in autumn once flowering has stopped. Follow the below tips for the best way to prune your gardenias.

Sanitise your secateurs or pruning shears before you begin. This avoids spreading diseases from other plants that you may have trimmed. You can just wipe or rub them over with some isopropyl alcohol or even an alcohol-based hand sanitiser.

Remove any dead branches or growing tips. When it comes to pruning, the first step is to remove any dead wood. This includes small twigs and even larger branches. Always cut these right back to the green wood or to a point where the next set of leaves meet the stem.

Look at the shape. After you’ve removed the dead wood, take a step back and look at the shape of your shrub. If it’s a bit lopsided, you can trim back the growth on one side to even it up. Just make sure that you make the cut directly above a set of leaves.

Trim back any long growth. You ultimate aim is to have a nicely rounded shrub with lots of green growth. Therefore, if there are any long branches that are growing outside this shape, you can prune them back. If you make the cut just above a set of leaves, this will produce more bushy growth as a result.

Heavy Pruning For Older Gardenias With Lots Of Woody Growth

gardenia 3 | Plant care

If your gardenias have been growing in your garden for many years and you haven’t pruned them regularly, you might have a plant with lots of leggy and woody growth.

This can be trimmed back to encourage more green growth and give your plant a more compact shape.

When conducting a hard prune, remember that you don’t want to cut back more than 1/3 of the overall plant. If you cut off more than this, the plant may not recover from the pruning.

To start with, prune back any horizontal branches by one third. Once again, make sure that you cut these back to just above a set of green leaves. 

Once you’ve reduced some of the horizontal growth, you can work on the vertical branches, reducing their length by a third or less, depending on the size of your plant.

This heavy pruning should be done in early spring just before the plant springs back into new growth. This ensures that your gardenia will recover well from the heavy pruning.

However, if you do this, you may experience flowering a little later in the season.


Can gardenias be cut back hard?

Yes, If your gardenias have lots of woody growth you can give them a hard prune to encourage more green growth. This should be done in early spring.

How far back can you cut gardenia?

You should avoid cutting back more than one-third of the overall plant. Any more than this and the gardenia may not recover from the pruning.

Photo of author

Annette Hird

Annette Hird is a gardening expert with many years of experience in a range of gardening related positions. She has an Associate Diploma of Applied Science in Horticulture and has worked in a variety of production nurseries, primarily as a propagator. She has also been responsible for a large homestead garden that included lawn care, fruit trees, roses and many other ornamental plants. More recently, Annette has concentrated on improving the garden landscape of the homes that she has lived in and focused a lot of energy on growing edible plants as well. She now enjoys sharing her experience and knowledge with others by writing articles about all facets of gardening and growing plants.


1 thought on “Australian Guide To Pruning Gardenias”

  1. Thank you… greatly appreciate the help in pruning my gardenia magnifica successfully.
    It’s very leggy and been in a large pot for 7 years. I have pruned it previously, but missed out last summer. Hopefully by pruning now late August, I may still be fortunate enough for happier blooms.


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