Cutting back Gardenia Bush

I have a gardebia that is 5 ft tall but the bottom is a little leggy with 2 ft at bottom with hardly any leaves. My question is can I cut it back hard so that it will get fuller at the bottom and if so what time of the year is best to cut it back?

Submitted by JC.ROSS46

Hi! Thanks for writing. You don't want to cut it too hard at once --- never remove more than about 1/4 of the plant at any one time, otherwise you'll shock it (just like if a person loses too much blood at one time). Instead, remove up to 1/4 of the plant in early autumn. Then prune it again right after it blooms. It may take a few years to get it to a size you want. ---Justin, Senior Garden Editor, BHG.com 

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Consider making this 'bush' into a tree. I have done so with great results. They bloom quite well, and there is room underneath to plant other flowers.
Submitted by lakeviewlady