Gardenia

When Secrets Remain Secret

Walking past a Gardenia shrub as the sun bids the gardener thanks and farewell, the intoxicating and exotic fragrance of the gardenia flower lingers on and seers the sweet scent on their soul for evermore!

Chanel, Nina Ricci, Jovan, Yves Rocher and countless other perfumers have fragrances and perfumes inspired by the scent of a Gardenia bloom.  But nature, sometimes, has a way of keeping her secrets to herself  ….   (Perhaps this is the reason why the gardenia is the flower of Secret Love?)  The Gardenia flower gives very little of the beautiful scent in natural essential oil – and perfumers are forced to settle for a synthetic imitation!

 The flowers of a Gardenia are a creamy-white and turn golden brown before falling off after a couple of days.  This is an exceptional evergreen shrub with glossy, green foliage with a leathery texture.  The leaves are simple, entire, hairless and have a wavy margin.  The flowers are made up from a tubular-based corolla and have five to twelve lobes petals which are five to twelve centimetres in size.   The flowers are solitary or in small clusters.

The Best Place for Your Secret Love

Gardenias love sub-tropical climates that are frost resistant and have high humidity.  They are ideally suited to morning sun, or, dappled shade positions.  In landscaping terms, they make excellent background hedges or screens.  However, they are equally happy potted in a patio planter.  And, best of all, they are gorgeous as topiary standards!  Place several of these in strategic positions on your patio or driveway for maximum effect!  Your guests will always compliment you on the wonderful scent they give off!  Gardenias can also be trained “espalier” fashion, if you require a screened off area.

Gardenias are acid-soil lovers and are most at home in soil with a pH of 4.5 – 5.5.  Ensure that the soil is well drained and add peat moss to retain moisture without the root system becoming too wet.  Mulch with Pine needles.    Fertilize every three to four months with acid fertilizer.   Beware of over watering!

What to Watch out For.

The flower of a gardenia definitely has an insect-attracting property.  Infestations of twig wilters (stinkbugs) can occur.  They live on the stems and twigs sucking up the sap from plants which causes them to wilt and die off.  Check for aphids, mealy bugs, spider mites thrips and scale.

On a more positive note, nocturnal moths are the main pollinators of gardenia flowers.  The waning evening light reflects the white blossoms to maximise the attraction of the moths who find their broad leaves and open flowers easy to land on. Honey bees use the morning and afternoon sun to pollinate the blossom.