White or yellowish, intensely fragrant blossoms contrast sharply with shiny, leathery dark green leaves. Double forms are classic flowers for corsages.
Provide fast-draining but moisture-retentive soil conditioned with plenty of organic matter such as peat moss or ground bark. Plant gardenias high (like azaleas and rhododendrons) and avoid crowding from other plants and competing roots. To help suppress weeds, mulch plants instead of cultivating around them.
Unless water is high in salts (residue from salt in water may burn leaves), mist plants in the early morning except during bloom time. Where water contains dissolved salts, irrigate deeply once a month to leach salts from the soil. Feed every 3 to 4 weeks during growing season with acid plant food, fish emulsion, or blood meal. Magnesium deficiency can result in yellow leaves with green veins; treat by dissolving one tablespoon of Epsom salts in a gallon of water and soaking the root zone (best done in early spring).
Prune to remove dead wood, straggling branches, and faded flowers. To control aphids and brown scale, wash plants frequently with jet spray from a hose or spray plants with light horticultural oil. (In hot weather, spray in the evening— though not if temperatures exceed 90°F/32°C—then wash off the foliage the next morning.)Gardenia jasminoides
Native to China, Taiwan, and Japan. Glossy bright green, lance-shaped leaves and highly fragrant, single or double white flowers. Hardy to 20°F/–7°C or even lower but must have summer heat to thrive and bloom well. Hard to grow in adobe or alkaline desert soils. Give northern or eastern exposure in the desert. Plants are useful in containers or raised beds, as hedges, espaliers, low screens, or specimens.‘Aimee’ (‘First Love’)
Upright grower to 4–6 ft. tall and wide. Very large, very double, 4-in.-plus, roselike blossoms with elegantly spiraled form. Starts blooming in spring and continues well into summer.‘August Beauty’
Erect growth to 4–6 ft. tall, 3–4 ft. wide. Loosely double, 2–3-in.-wide flowers are produced primarily in early summer.‘Chuck Hayes’
Extra-hardy variety; possibly as cold-tolerant as ‘Kleim’s Hardy’. Grows to 4 ft. tall and wide. Double, 3-in. flowers in summer, with heavy rebloom in autumn. Very heat-tolerant.
Tropical gardenia fragrance on a cold-hardy, easy-care plant. Jubilation flowers from spring through fall with masses of white blooms. Plant near patios, porches, decks, and other outdoor living areas where the fragrance can be enjoyed. From the Sunset Western Garden Collection.‘Kleim’s Hardy’
Slowly grows into a mound 2–3 ft. tall and wide. Intensely fragrant single, star-shaped flowers are 1–3 in. wide. Blooms profusely in early summer, sporadically through the rest of the growing season. Reportedly has survived to 0°F/–18°C, suffering only damage to foliage.‘Mystery’
Grows to 6–8 ft. tall and wide, even larger in time. Pure white, formal, 4–5-in. blossoms are the standard variety for florists’ corsages. Blooms from midsummer through early fall, longer if warm weather continues. Intense fragrance carries through the air, even in dry climates. Rangy growth needs pruning to keep it neat and within bounds.‘Radicans’ (‘Prostrata’)
True miniature gardenia. Grows to 6–12 in. high and 2–3 ft. wide, with inch-long dark green leaves and many inch-wide double flowers, mainly in early summer. Good small-scale edging, groundcover, or container plant.‘Veitchii’
Sometimes sold as “everblooming gardenia.” Compact form grows to 3–4 1/2 ft. high and 6 ft. wide; leaves to 2 1/2 in. long. This is the oldest variety, but still a most reliable bloomer. Roselike, 1 1/2–2-in.-wide, pure white blossoms from late spring to fall; bloom may continue during a warm winter.
Dense, compact dwarf to 1–2 ft. high and wide. Rounded, five- or six-petaled, 1 1/2–2-in. single flowers bloom continuously from spring through summer. Sweet, carrying fragrance. Good in containers and foreground of borders.
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Native to China and northern India. Grows to 30–50 ft. tall and wide, with an irregular habit. R...