The genus Gardenia is believed to have been named
after Alexander Garden, a physician in Charleston, South Carolina, during colonial days.
Gardenias are a member of the
family Rubiaceae and belong to the genus Gardenia. There are over 200 species of Gardenias. In Florida, two species are of
primary importance: Gardenia jasminoides containing many cultivars, and Gardenia thunbergia, grown primarily as a rootstock.
Gardenia jasminoides is native to China although most named cultivars have arisen in cultivation. Gardenia thunbergia, named
for C. P. Thunberg, an 18th century Swedish botanist, is native to South Africa.
Gardenias can be used
as screens, hedges, borders or ground covers. They also may be used as free-standing specimens or in mass plantings.
These shrubs are excellent choices for fragrant flowers and handsome
foliage. If you want to enjoy the flowers' fragrance, plant in areas with good air circulation near patios or windows where
the fragrance will be noticed. Many cultivars bloom in the spring, while others bloom throughout most of the growing season.
Plant gardenias in full sun, partial shade, or shifting shade for
best flower production. Prolonged shade may reduce flowering.
Most cultivars are not from breeding but through mutation,
and therefore, can be increased only by vegetative propagation. There is considerable variation in flower size and form, blooming
time and duration, and plant growth among cultivars, which include:
'Aimee Yashioka' which has brilliant dark green
foliage with large flowers, 4-5 inches in diameter; produces an abundance of flowers in late spring;
'August Beauty' which has dense foliage with large
double white flowers, flowers heavily, is 4-6 feet high and blooms spring to fall;
'Belmont' which has dark green foliage with large
flowers, 4-5 inches in diameter; blooms throughout most of the growing season;
'Coral Gables' which has dark green foliage with
large flowers on compact plants; blooms throughout summer months;
'Fortuneiana' which has double, carnation-like
flowers up to 4 inches in diameter;
'Glazerii' which has medium green foliage with
heavy peak bloom in April in south Florida;
'Golden Magic' which has almost double, pure white
flowers that age to deep golden yellow; plants grow 3 feet tall by 2 feet wide in three years;
'Miami Supreme' which has medium to dark green
foliage with large flowers, 4-6 inches in diameter;
'Mystery' which has 4-5 inch diameter, double white
flowers on a 4-8 foot rather upright growing shrub; needs pruning to keep it neat;
'Radicans' ('Prostrata') which is a small-leaved,
almost creeping version of the species; the small, lustrous leaves are especially handsome and coupled with the 1-inch diameter
fragrant flowers make this a good choice for many landscapes; grows 1-2 feet high with a 4-foot spread, forms a graceful,
flowering evergreen shrub; good ground cover, or mass or facing plant;
'Radicans Variegata' which is a variegated version
of 'Radicans' with creamy-white leaf margins and the same flowers as 'Radicans'; it may produce branch reversions that need
to be removed;
'Veitchii' which grows 2-4 feet high and produces
1-1 1/2 inch diameter white flowers; blooms profusely from spring to fall;
'Veitchii Improved' which grows taller than 'Veitchii'
to 5 feet and produces slightly larger (2 1/2 - 3 inch) flowers in greater numbers.