Quite loved for its large size flowers and strong scent, Gardenia makes for beautiful garden landscape, fresh flower bouquets and cut flowers. A flowering genus in the coffee family, the plant is native to subtropical and tropical areas of the Pacific Islands, Madagascar, Asia and Africa.
It was named after Dr. Alexander Garden, a renowned Scottish-American Naturalist by John Ellis and Carl Linnaeus.
Some species of gardenia are known for their extraordinary large size of flowers. One of the species, G. Florida or Gardenia jasminoides originally hails from humid tropical areas. It is cultivated as house plant but is very demanding when it comes to growing requirements. It needs bright but not direct light. It prefers high humidity and well-drained acidic soil. The optimum temperature should be about 70 to 74 F during daytime. The water level to the level of flowers can rot them and turn the flowers to brown and dead!
This heat-loving evergreen shrub can grow up to 49.2 ft tall. Flowers grow in clusters. The blooming season is mid-spring to mid-summer.
Fragrance of Gardenia Flowers
The fragrance of gardenia flowers could be described as silky, rich and intense, but not overwhelming in any way. Some of you might find the fragrance of gardenia flowers resembling that of jasmine. Due to its strong scent, it is widely used in essential oils and perfume making. However, extraction of natural essential oil has not been successful to date. All you have is dry flower extract of gardenia, which is as synthetic and artificial it could be. Or a spinoff and just a lame attempt to mix up chemicals to make it smell like gardenia!
How to Grow and Care for Gardenia Plant
These prefer to stay in bright sunlight and have become a garden must-have in the Southeast. It is also known as cape jasmine. It is ideal to plant them in containers, in the balconies or glass house where they can get the bright light. With glossy dark green leaves and white flowers, these enjoy low ph soil.
Each week, they might need about an inch of water. Organic mulch of 2-4 inch layer is ideal for their growth. Keep the soil moist but it is suggested to make arrangement for good drainage. An acidifying fertilizer is recommended to maintain the growth. It is very necessary that you maintain pruning of the plant during its growing phase. Watch out for pests like bugs and white flies that are attracted to the scent and glossy leaves. To keep them at bay, use of organic horticultural oil is recommended. Since it is a winter plant, you may want to protect it from winter winds and frost.
- Chinese call their gardenias zhīziand in Japan, these are referred to as kuchinashi. The fruit of the flowers are used as food and fabric dye. The yellow color in Koreanmung bean jelly is due to gardenia fruit. Moreover, gardenia fruits are also a main element of traditional Chinese medicines and are believed to have cooling and cleansing properties.
- As a part of tradition, French men wear gardenias as boutonnière.
- It is also claimed to be one of the favorite flowers of Sigmund Freud.
- In Hawaii, it is known as nānū.
- Like jasmine, it is also added to the tea.
- It is the flower that symbolizes purity, poise, harmony and love.