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Different Gardenia Types: Varieties Of Gardenia Commonly Grown

Different Gardenia Types: Varieties Of Gardenia Commonly Grown


By: Jackie Rhoades

They’re the aroma of romance and soft summer nights. They’re the traditional corsages at proms and the boutonnieres of weddings and funerals. They’re the scent of springtime in the South. They’re the gardenia. Varieties abound, over 250 of them, but all gardenia types have two things in common: their luscious scent and lovely, waxy, white flowers.

Popular Gardenia Types

All gardenia varieties are members of the genus Gardenia and the coffee family, Rubiaceae. Most types of gardenias in the United States stem from the early Gardenia augusta. Because of their fragrant blossoms and thick, attractive foliage, certain types of gardenia are prized as shrubs for their use as hedges and borders and specimen plantings, particularly near walkways and garden seating areas where their fragrance lingers in the evening.

Farther north, where the winters are too harsh for the shrub’s survival, varieties of gardenia are grown as container plants, spending their summers outdoors and winters inside. The following are some of the most popularly grown varieties of gardenias in the South:

  • August Beauty – With large double flowers up to three inches (7.5 cm.) across, this is one of the most frequently found varieties of gardenia. It flowers in early summer and sporadically into fall. It is a large shrub, growing to 6 feet (2 m.) tall and when not in bloom, its perfect large glossy foliage makes an attractive specimen. It is one of the most cold hardy, growing freely up to USDA plant hardiness zone 7.
  • Kleim’s Hardy – Another hardy type of gardenia, this one has six single petals to each flower with bright yellow stamens. Its large, shining leaves enhance its rounded growth, which can reach 2 to 3 feet (0.5-1 m.) tall and wide.
  • Aimee Yashioka – Commonly called Cape Jasmine or Cape Jessamine, these are old-time gardenias. Varieties are known for their intense fragrance and their gorgeous, ivory-white, double blooms that can reach four to five inches (10-12 cm.) across. These are the specimens that gave the species its reputation. This is a fast growing cultivar that can reach 12 feet (4 m.) or more and as a bonus, blooms twice during the growing season.
  • Radicans – Another garden favorite among the smaller gardenia types. It is slow growing and only reaches 24 to 36 inches (60-90 cm.) in height. The foliage is smaller than many other gardenia varieties and sports two to three inch (5-7.5 cm.), single petaled flowers that are creamy white. Like its larger cousins, Radicans is deliciously fragrant and blooms later in the season, which makes it a great partner for some of the earlier blooming cultivars.
  • Mystery – This medium-sized shrub is also known to be hardy to Zone 8. As with most types of gardenia, this one has dark glossy foliage and a heady fragrance. What makes Mystery different among gardenia varieties is that it produces its double, white blossoms from spring until fall. Fully grown, it reaches about five feet (1.5 m.) tall and three feet (1 m.) wide, making it suitable for areas where larger varieties would overwhelm. This is a lovely addition to add privacy and fragrance to a small patio.
  • First Love – Who could resist such a name? And it may very well be your first love among the many varieties of gardenia. It’s a compact grower that reaches 5 feet (1.5 m.) high and 3 feet (1 m.) wide and is one of the earliest blooming gardenias in the spring. The double blooms are some of the largest to be found and the showy flowers are wonderful for cutting as well as enjoyment outdoors.

These are just a few of the varieties of gardenias that are available through catalogs and local nursery centers. More cultivars await your discovery. If you live in southern climes, one of these beauties is a must for your garden. With all the varieties available, there’s sure to be one that fits your needs.

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Different Kinds of Gardenias

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The intense, heady fragrance of creamy gardenia flowers is the main reason to grow gardenias (Gardenia jasminoides, sometimes known by the former name G. augusta) in gardens or containers. Their blooming period is primarily in spring, but some varieties bloom throughout the growing season. The bushes have evergreen, dark-green leaves and range in height from only 1 or 2 feet tall to 8 or more feet tall. The flowers are mostly double and used for corsages and in leis.


Single Flowers

Most gardenia varieties have double or semi-double flowers, but some have single flowers. "White Gem" is a low-growing plant, reaching 1 to 2 feet tall, and is suitable for raised beds, containers, hanging baskets or edgings. "Daisy" has flat-faced single flowers and grows from 4 to 6 feet tall. Both these varieties are hardy in USDA zones 8 through 12. "Shooting Star" flowers in late spring and early summer on bushes 6 to 8 feet tall. This variety has large leaves and is hardy to USDA zones 7 through 12. "Kleim's Hardy" is another cold-hardy variety, growing reliably in USDA zones 7 through 12. Its intensely fragrant flowers appear in summer. Mounding growth is to 3 feet tall. For best results, shield from wind. "Grif's Select" grows in USDA hardiness zones 7b through 12. Spring and summer flowers are followed by red seed capsules in fall.


Keep It Alive

  • Gardenias, like azaleas and camellias, prefer acidic soil.
  • They also like a lightweight soil that is well draining but with high moisture retention. When in doubt add compost in copious amounts to the planting hole.
  • Keep gardenias moist, but they don’t appreciate soggy roots–so clay soil is out.
  • Gardenias can survive full sun, but if you live with blazing hot summers you should site these beauties for a northeast-facing exposure to receive bright morning light, a bit of midday sun, and relief during the hottest part of the day. Tip: Choose your planting spot wisely because gardenias are prima donnas that don’t like being moved.
  • These glorious shrubs unfortunately make poor houseguests unless sited in a greenhouse or sunroom. There is simply not enough light or humidity in a home to set bloom.

For more growing tips, see Gardenias: A Field Guide to Planting, Care & Design and find more ideas in our curated Garden Design 101 guides to Tropical Plants and Shrubs. Read more:


Specific planting directions will depend on the variety you choose, but most Gardenia Shrubs like full to partial sun (4 to 8 hours of sun per day) and well-drained soil. Of course, it's important to ensure that you’re in the correct growing zone.

When you're ready to plant your Gardenia Shrubs, dig a hole large enough to accommodate your Gardenia's root ball (with some room to grow), place your shrub and back fill the soil. Finally, water the surrounding soil to settle the roots. We also recommend mulching around the area to conserve moisture and prevent weeds.


Leaf Colors

Gardenia leaves are thick, oval-shaped and grow in an opposite pattern. This mean each leaf appears directly opposite another on a branch. The colors of gardenia leaves ranges from glossy medium green to glossy dark green. However, if temperatures drop below 60 degrees Fahrenheit, gardenia leaves can become dull or lackluster and their green color can fade to yellow or greenish-yellow. Each gardenia leaf typically is between 3 and 5 inches long and about 1 1/2 inches wide.

  • Ivory-colored gardenias include the 'White Gem,' which bears single, star-shaped ivory flowers that have a medium fragrance 'Kleim’s Hardy,' which bears single, star-shaped ivory-white flowers that are highly fragrant and the 'Chuck Hayes,' which bears semi-double ivory-white flowers.
  • Gardenia cultivars also can produce flowers that are white-yellow, like the 'Golden Magic' creamy white, like the 'First Love' velvety white, like the 'August Beauty' and white with yellow centers, like the 'Veitchii'.

Gardenia jasminoides

Previously known as:

The gardenia has year-long appeal given its fragrant, showy flowers, and its lustrous dark emerald green foliage. It can be a houseplant or planted outdoors, preferring bright indirect sunlight or partial shade. Sheltering from the cold and strong winds should be considered to prevent winter burn. It is moderately drought-tolerant and resistant to damage by deer. Good air circulation will reduce pest problems.

Avoid competition from tree roots as gardenias have shallow roots and do not do well with root disturbance. Hard water, poor absorption of iron due to very alkaline soil will result in chlorosis (yellow leaves). Gardenias should not be planted near a concrete walk or foundation where the alkalinity of the soil may be too high for good growth. But they should be planted where their heady fragrance can be enjoyed.

Do not fertilize in the fall as this will cause a rush of frost tender growth. Prune in the spring after flowering to dead-head and maintain shape.

Insects, Diseases, and Other Plant Problems: Whiteflies can be a problem on stressed plants.

Quick ID Hints:

  • Pinwheel or spiral looking buds
  • Leaves rugose, dark green, glossy, with impressed veins
  • Very fragrant white, double flowers
  • Leaves opposite, whorled at branch tips

Evergreen shrub, 4-8' tall and wide.

Blooms May, June and July. Pungently fragrant, should be placed where fragrance can reach largest area. Beautiful foliage, holds color well into winter. Susceptible to pest/disease problems including whitefly.

Requires acid soil, high organic content, sun to partial shade, needs protection from winter wind, cold temperatures.

VIDEO Created by Elizabeth Meyer for "Trees, Shrubs and Conifers" a plant identification course offered in partnership with Longwood Gardens.

Profile Video: See this plant in the following landscape: Cultivars / Varieties:

  • 'August Beauty'
    4 to 6 feet high and 3 to 4 feet wide with 3" wide double flowers'Crown Jewel'
    very fragrant 3" wide double flowers, more cold hardy than most cultivars
  • ‘Fortuniana’
    A double-flowered cultivar.
  • 'Frostproof'
    'Jubilation'
    highly fragrant double white flowers, more cold hardy than most cultivars'Kleim's Hardy'
    hardy to 10 °F and grows to 3 feet tall and wide with single flowers in summer.
  • 'Lynn Lowrey'
  • 'Michael'
  • 'Mystery'
    4 to 5-inch double white flowers'Radicans'
    dwarf, ground cover, growing 6 to 18 inches high and spreading 2 to 3 feet
  • 'Veitchii'
    4 to 6 feet tall and 3 to 4 feet wide. It has double flowers with a long bloom period.
'August Beauty', 'Crown Jewel', ‘Fortuniana’, 'Frostproof', 'Jubilation', 'Kleim's Hardy', 'Lynn Lowrey', 'Michael', 'Mystery', 'Radicans', 'Veitchii' Tags: #fragrant#evergreen#showy flowers#fragrant flowers#drought tolerant#perennial#white flowers#shrub#wildlife plant#cut flowers#medicinal#tsc#high maintenance#berries#playground#year-round interest#showy fruits#hedges#moist soil#well-drained soil#deer resistant#dense#glossy leaves#children's garden#rich soil#rounded#borders#acidic soil tolerant#pollinator plant#fantz#orange fruits#asian garden#food source fall#walkway planting#patio planting#partial shade tolerant#problem for cats#tsc-s#problem for dogs#problem for horses

Flower and Leaves (Wake County, NC)-Summer Cathy Dewitt CC BY 4.0 Form in the landscape Starr Environmental CC BY 2.0 Leaves Forest and Kim Starr CC BY 2.0 Leaf close up David J. Stang CC BY-SA 4.0 Branches David J. Stang CC BY-SA 4.0 Fruit Jim Robbins CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 Fruit Side View Jim Robbins CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 'Lynn Lowrey' Form Jim Robbins CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 Fruit Jim Robbins CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 Flower Form Jim Robbins CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 Flowers Jim Robbins CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 Dwarf Form Jim Robbins CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 'Frostproof' Flower Form Jim Robbins CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 'Frostproof' Flower and Leaves Jim Robbins CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 'Mystery' Flower Form Jim Robbins CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 'Mystery' Flower and Leaves Jim Robbins CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 'Lynn Lowrey' Full Form (Durham County,NC)-Spring Andrea Laine CC BY-NC 4.0 'Lynn Lowrey' Leaves Close-Up (Durham County,NC) Andrea Laine CC BY-NC 4.0 'Lynn Lowrey' Flowers (Durham County,NC)-Spring Andrea Laine CC BY-NC 4.0 'Michael' Leaves Close-Up (Warren County,NC) Cathy Dewitt CC BY 4.0 'Michael' With white Flies (Warren County,NC)-April Cathy Dewitt CC BY 4.0 'Michael' flower buds, Warren County, NC Cathy Dewitt CC BY 4.0 'Lynn Lowrey' Flower and Buds (Durham County,NC)-Spring Andrea Laine CC BY-NC 4.0

Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'August Beauty'
    4 to 6 feet high and 3 to 4 feet wide with 3" wide double flowers'Crown Jewel'
    very fragrant 3" wide double flowers, more cold hardy than most cultivars
  • ‘Fortuniana’
    A double-flowered cultivar.
  • 'Frostproof'
    'Jubilation'
    highly fragrant double white flowers, more cold hardy than most cultivars'Kleim's Hardy'
    hardy to 10 °F and grows to 3 feet tall and wide with single flowers in summer.
  • 'Lynn Lowrey'
  • 'Michael'
  • 'Mystery'
    4 to 5-inch double white flowers'Radicans'
    dwarf, ground cover, growing 6 to 18 inches high and spreading 2 to 3 feet
  • 'Veitchii'
    4 to 6 feet tall and 3 to 4 feet wide. It has double flowers with a long bloom period.
'August Beauty', 'Crown Jewel', ‘Fortuniana’, 'Frostproof', 'Jubilation', 'Kleim's Hardy', 'Lynn Lowrey', 'Michael', 'Mystery', 'Radicans', 'Veitchii' Tags: #fragrant#evergreen#showy flowers#fragrant flowers#drought tolerant#perennial#white flowers#shrub#wildlife plant#cut flowers#medicinal#tsc#high maintenance#berries#playground#year-round interest#showy fruits#hedges#moist soil#well-drained soil#deer resistant#dense#glossy leaves#children's garden#rich soil#rounded#borders#acidic soil tolerant#pollinator plant#fantz#orange fruits#asian garden#food source fall#walkway planting#patio planting#partial shade tolerant#problem for cats#tsc-s#problem for dogs#problem for horses

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