40917It seems that everyone who has ever experienced the seductive yet powerful fragrance of gardenia, Gardenia jasminoides, wants to grow it, but very few actually can. Gardenias like warmth, but prefer more humidity than they get here, which is why they seem to be happier in partial shade, in atriums, or in urns that can be moved out of harsh exposure during summer. In such sheltered spots, aphid, scale and sometimes whitefly can be problematic.

Gardenias want their own space, where their roots will not be bothered by excavation or roots of more aggressive plants. They do not even want annuals around them, because annuals need such regular cultivation. Docile ground cover plants or simple mulch is best. Gardenias like rich soil and acid fertilizer or fish emulsion to be applied regularly as long as the weather is warm.

The creamy white flowers that fade to French vanilla can seem mundane relative to their alluring fragrance and handsomely glossy foliage. The largest flowers rarely get to three inches wide. ‘Mystery’, which can slowly get four feet tall, is the most familiar cultivar, even though it does not bloom so much after spring. ‘Veitchii’, which can eventually get three feet tall and twice as wide, has small inch-wide flowers, but is still blooming. Modern cultivars bloom just as late, but with larger flowers.

6 thoughts on “Gardenia

    1. Thank you. I can not explain why the blooms on this particular specimen were so exemplary. It was growing out in an exposed parkstrip (between a curb and sidewalk) in western San Jose! In the semi-arid climate here, they prefer more sheltered situations.


  1. I have had luck with the cultivar known as ‘frost proof.’ Of course it’s only hardy to Zone 7 (so still not hardy outside for me!) but it blooms beautifully and reliably outdoors every summer.

    In milder winters, I can winter it on my sun porch. In polar vortex years, it has to come inside. But it’s thankfully trouble free–it doesn’t seem to get buggy.

    So you know there’s a “but” after all this wonderfulness. The “but” is that the flowers are not quite as lovely as other gardenias. But since it blooms–I have had as many as 8 blooms at once–I don’t mind


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    1. This is one that I can not figure out. Those that get what they want are very often much more stressed than those that get neglected or even abused! I just mentioned to someone else that the plant that provided the illustration was very happy in a very exposed site between a curb and sidewalk in western San Jose! They prefer to be partly sheltered in the semi-arid climate here. My colleague down south gives his everything they want, but still replaces them like annuals.


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