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Gardenia jasminoides ‘Mystery’

Rubiaceae
Evergreen, Shrubs

GARDENIA

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
Gardenia jasminoides

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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.

‘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.

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