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How to winterize a gardenia bush?

How do I protect my supposedly hearty gardenia bush during the winter? I live in the Shenandoah Valley of VA (zone 6 or 7). Last yr I put leaves around the plant to a depth of 12 - 14 inches. I had to prune off the part of the bush that wasn't covered so there were only blooms on the bottom of the bush. Should I cover the whole bush with leaves? It is now 3 ft X 3 ft. Internet advice says to cover the top of the bush with burlap whenever it is going to freeze and remove when temperatures rise. I'm not home to do that.

Submitted by jerrylizyoder

Hi! Thanks for writing. If the variety you have isn't reliably hardy in your area, then try bolstering it by wrapping it burlap all winter long. This should help protect it from the wind and make it less susceptible to damage from freezing and thawing. For extra protection, consider filling the spaces between the plant and the burlap with straw or pine needles.  In spring, simply remove the burlap and your plant should be good. ---Justin, Better Homes and Gardens 

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