Cape jasmine is an evergreen bush that blooms prolifically, emitting a captivating scent that isn’t overpowering. It’s sometimes called ‘the most enticing scent in the world.’ There are no known allergens to gardenia; it has no sharp thorns.
It grows well in partial shade. However, the bush will thrive in well-drained, slightly acidic soil. Fertilizers for other acid-loving plants (hibiscus, blue hydrangeas, rhododendrons, azaleas) can be used on gardenias. Make DIY fertilizer with Epsom salt, coffee grounds, vinegar, or dirty fish tank water.
Cultivation likely dates back to the 10th century, evidenced by paintings depicting the flower. Historically in its native Asian range, the fruit was used for yellow dye. However, generations of cultivation bred out its ability to produce fruiting bodies. The lack of seeds led early botanists to classify some Gardenia species with the Jasmine genus until Linnaeus could ascribe the plant to its corresponding relatives. The genus is named in honor of a Scottish physician and naturalist who introduced the plant to Charleston, South Carolina, in 1762.
The flower became a botanical craze. First, a favorite for men’s boutonnieres, later Billie Holliday and Hattie McDaniel wore them on stage singing the blues. Gardenias thrive in Hawaiʻi; however, they can be challenging to maintain. Sooty mold, powdery mildew, scales, whiteflies, and spider mites are some of the ailments that can attack this beautiful plant. The cut flowers should be dunked in soapy water as thrips are often abundant.
- Container plant
- Cut flower
- Indoor plant
- Privacy / screening
- No dangers