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What is special about gardenia flower?

Gardenias are known for their fragrant, white blooms and glossy green leaves. They are popular garden shrubs in warm climates and make beautiful cut flowers. But what exactly makes gardenias so special? Here’s an in-depth look at some of the unique qualities of these plants.


One of the most notable things about gardenias is their incredibly sweet, intoxicating fragrance. Gardenia flowers contain a compound called linalool which gives them their distinctive scent. The fragrance is often described as complex, rich and floral. It’s strong enough to perfume an entire garden or room when the flowers are in bloom.

The scent is used to make high-end perfumes and even flavor teas. The essential oil from the flowers is also used in aromatherapy. For anyone who loves floral scents, the aroma of gardenias can be heavenly.

Bright White Blooms

Gardenias produce showy flowers that are usually stark white or creamy white in color. The waxy petals have a lovely, lustrous sheen to them. When they open fully, gardenia blooms can reach 2-5 inches across depending on the variety.

The flowers have a romantic, old-fashioned appearance with their ruffled, multi-layered petals. They make beautiful corsages andboutonnieres. Florists also like to use them in bridal arrangements and table centerpieces.

Blooming Habits

One thing that makes gardenias special is their long blooming period. With proper care, gardenia shrubs can produce flowers from spring to fall in warm climates. The peak blooming time is usually late spring through summer.

Individual gardenia flowers only last about a week. But each shrub produces flower buds continuously during the growing season. So there is a long succession of blooms over many months.

Growing Conditions

Gardenias require specific growing conditions to thrive. This finicky nature is part of what makes them so prized. Gardeners enjoy the challenge of creating the right environment for healthy gardenia growth.

Here are the key conditions gardenias need:

  • Warm temperatures – above 60°F/15°C.
  • Humid climate.
  • Sheltered location away from wind.
  • Well-drained, acidic soil.
  • Moderate watering when top few inches of soil feel dry.
  • Protection from hot afternoon sun.

Gardeners in cooler climates can grow gardenias as potted plants. This allows them to move the plants indoors during cold weather.

Uses in Landscapes

When they are happy, gardenia shrubs add striking elegance to gardens, patios and entryways. Their flowers beautifully contrast with their dark green leaves.

Some ways to use gardenias in warm climate landscapes include:

  • Planting as a focal point shrub.
  • Using as a low hedge or border.
  • Planting in containers on patios and decks.
  • Training as a small climbing vine on trellises.

Dwarf gardenia varieties work well for borders and containers. Larger varieties make nice specimen plants. With pruning, gardenias can also be kept tidy and shrub-like.

Culinary Uses

The flowers and leaves of gardenias are edible. Their flavor is similar to the related jasmine plant. Both the blooms and leaves can be brewed into a sweetly floral tea or used to infuse sugar, syrups and liqueurs.

In fact, gardenias are used to flavor a Chinese tea called Kuding cha. They also infuse traditional lotus seed mooncakes with a lovely aroma. Gardenia essence flavors many Asian dishes and desserts as well.

Medicinal Uses

In traditional Chinese medicine, extracts of gardenia fruit are believed to have cooling properties. They are used to help relieve inflammation, fever, and anxiety. In Ayurvedic healing, gardenia flowers, leaves and resins also have a long history of medicinal use.

Modern studies show extracts of the gardenia plant have anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, and antioxidant properties. The genipin compound in gardenias is being researched for potential health benefits.

Unique Challenges

While exquisitely beautiful, gardenias do present challenges many other plants don’t have. This makes cultivating them well an achievement for any gardener.

Some specific difficulties with growing gardenias include:

  • Finicky watering needs – too much or too little water can cause issues.
  • Sensitivity to improper soil pH and salt levels.
  • Susceptibility to common garden pests like aphids, spider mites, thrips, and others.
  • Tendency to drop buds in cool weather or from stress.

However, proper site selection, soil preparation, and care will help overcome most of these problems. The reward of having gardenias thrive and bloom in abundance is worth the extra effort.


With their intoxicating fragrance and alluring white petals, gardenias have come to represent several symbolic meanings including:

  • Purity and innocence
  • Romance and secret love
  • Refinement, sweetness, and grace
  • Joy and beauty

In the Victorian era, gardenias were used to send secret flower messages between lovers. Their lovely appearance and scent still make them a popular choice for weddings and occasions of romance today.

Special Varieties

There are over 200 species and thousands of cultivars of gardenias. Here are a few of the most popular types:

Variety Description
Gardenia jasminoides The common gardenia. An evergreen shrub reaching 5-8 feet tall. Its large, fragrant white blooms make it a favorite.
Gardenia augusta Cape jasmine. Another very popular type known for its exceptionally bright white blooms and intense citrusy scent.
Gardenia radicans Dwarf or creeping gardenia. A low growing variety under 3 feet tall. Works nicely in borders and containers. White blooms reach 2-3 inches across.

Other noteworthy gardenia varieties include ‘Kleim’s Hardy’ for cold tolerance, ‘Veitchii’ and ‘Chuck Hayes’ for beautiful double blooms, and ‘Golden Magic’ with showy variegated foliage.


With their intoxicating fragrance, elegant blooms and challenging needs, gardenias have mystique other flowers lack. When healthy and flowering, they are stunning additions to warm climate gardens. Their scent and white beauty make them perfect for romantic occasions. For gardeners up to the challenge, growing gardenias can be a very rewarding experience.