No plant expresses the grace of the South better than gardenia. Intensely fragrant white blossoms contrast beautifully with shiny, leathery, dark green leaves. Double forms are a classic choice for corsages.
Gardenias are lovely in flower borders and also do well in large pots on decks and patios; gardeners in cold-winter areas can grow them in cool greenhouses.
common gardenia, cape jasmine
- Zones LS, CS, TS; USDA 8-11, except as noted.
- Native to China, Taiwan, Japan.
- Glossy, bright green leaves and usually double white flowers to 3 inches across.
- Most are hardy to about 10F; they will survive 0F but are likely to die back to roots.
The many selections are useful in containers or raised beds, as hedges, espaliers, low screens, or single plants.
- ('First Love').
- Somewhat larger shrub than 'August Beauty', with larger double flowers.
- Spring bloom.
- Grows 46 feet high and 34 feet wide.
- Blooms heavily midspring into fall.
- Large double flowers.
- Extra-hardy type, possibly as hardy as 'Kleim's Hardy'.
- To 4 feet high and wide.
- Double flowers in summer, heavy rebloom in fall.
- Selected from a cross between 'Kleim's Hardy' and 'Chuck Hayes'.
- Grows 2212 feet tall and 4 feet wide, with fully double blooms over a long period.
- One of the hardiest selections listed here, surviving -10F.
- Reaches 3 feet tall, 2 feet wide in 2 to 3 years, eventually larger.
- Extra-full flowers open white, gradually age to deep golden yellow.
- Blooms from spring through summer, peaking in midspring.
Grif's Select'. Compact, 34 feet tall and wide; profuse single flowers in late spring and early summer, red seed capsules in fall. Hardy to about 5F.
- Compact grower to 34 feet tall and wide.
- Very fragrant blooms are produced heavily in spring and again in fall.
- ('Four Seasons').
- Compact plant 23 feet tall.
- Flowers similar to those of 'Veitchii', but slightly less fragrant.
- Extremely long bloom seasonspring to fall.
Kleim's Hardy'. For cold- winter areas; hardy to 0F. To 23 feet high and wide. Single flowers in summer. Grow in a wind-protected site.
- Grows to 10 feet tall and wide, with large double flowers (46 inches wide) in spring, periodic flowering through summer.
- Fast grower.
- Most popular selection for South Florida.
- Best-known selection.
- Bears 4- to 5 inches double flowers from mid- to late spring or longer.
- Tends to be rangy and needs pruning to keep it neat.
- Can reach 68 feet high and wide.
- An interesting variation on the gardenia theme.
- Each petal is rolled at the base and flares at the tip, giving the flowers the appearance of a pinwheel.
- Intensely fragrant.
- Grows 4 feet tall and wide, with good repeat bloom from late spring well into fall.
- Reportedly hardy to -10F.
- Grows 612 inches tall and spreads to 23 feet., with small leaves; inch-wide double flowers bloom in sum- mer.
- Good for small-scale ground cover or pots.
- Not as cold hardy as the species; not well suited to Middle South.
- Radicans Variegata ('Prostrata Variegata') has gray-green leaves with white markings.
- Upright grower to 68 feet tall and wide, with large leaves and single flowers in late spring and early summer.
- Hardy to 0F.
- Compact, reliable grower to 312412 feet tall and 6 feet wide.
- Blooms prolifically from midspring into fall (and sometimes even during warm winters), bearing fully double 1- to 112 inches flowers.
- At just 12 feet tall and wide, this selection is useful for edgings, containers, or raised beds, where the fragrance of its single, creamy white summer flowers can be appreciated.
- Zones TS; USDA 10-11.
- Native to South Africa, this winter bloomer is much less common than Gardenia jasminoides, because it is less cold hardy and not as showy.
- Sometimes grown as an ornamental in south Florida.
- Primary use is as a rootstock to impart nematode resistance and increased vigor to Gardenia jasminoides.
- Reaches 15 feet tall and wide.
- Dark green leaves to 6 inches long; single, 3- to 4 inches., white- to cream-colored flowers with a long tube and typically eight overlapping, petal-like lobes.
Provide fast-draining but moisture- retentive, acidic soil containing lots of organic matter. Plant gardenias high (like azaleas and rhododendrons) and don't let them be crowded by other plants or competing roots. To suppress weeds, mulch plants instead of cultivating around them. Feed every 3 to 4 weeks during the growing season with acid fertilizer, fish emulsion, or blood meal. Prune to remove straggly branches and faded flowers. Control whiteflies, aphids, and other sucking insects with light horticultural oil. Mag- nesium deficiency can result in yellow leaves with green veins; treat by dissolving one tablespoon of Epsom salt in a gallon of water and soaking the root zone (best done in early spring). Though you can grow gardenia as a houseplant, doing so can be pure torture: Mealybugs, mites, and whiteflies love it.