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Gardenia augusta 'White Gem'

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.

Gardenia augusta
Gardenia augusta

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Gardenia augusta

Native to China, Taiwan, 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 desert. Plants are useful in containers or raised beds, as hedges, espaliers, low screens, or specimens.

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 early morning except during bloom time. Where water contains dissolved salts, irrigate deeply once a month to leach salts from 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, faded flowers. To control aphids and brown scale, wash plants frequently with jet spray from 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 foliage next morning.)

Gardenia augusta 'White Gem'
Gardenia augusta 'White Gem'

Click to Enlarge

'White Gem'

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, foreground of borders.

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