Gardenias

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Gardenias are native to Eastern Asia (China, Taiwan and Japan). They are attractive, low maintenance shrubs with large, creamy white flowers and glossy green leaves. The flowers have an exquisite perfume that pervades surrounding areas and creates a magical, romantic atmosphere in the garden. Gardenias flower at their best in the warmer months of the year, usually from November to May.

Varieties

Gardenia augusta ‘Florida’

This is one of the best gardenias available. It produces masses of perfumed flowers on a hardy plant. ‘Florida’ grows to about 1m x 1m (3’x3′). Other varieties of G. augusta with larger flowers include:

‘Magnifica’, which grows to about 2m x 1.5m (6’x5′), and ‘Professor Pucci’, a medium grower to about 1.5m (5′) tall.

‘True Love’

This newly released gardenia is set to rival ‘Florida’ in popularity and performance. It has heavily perfumed, large flowers (100mm across), and grows about 1m (3′) tall and 60cm (2′) wide. It is said to be more resistant to pests and diseases than the other varieties.

Growing gardenias

Gardenias like a slightly acidic, cool, moist, well-drained soil. They need some shade, particularly from the full summer heat in a hot or tropical climate. In cooler areas they are quite happy in full sun. Yellow leaves (particularly in spring) can be treated with an application of Epsom salts (sulfate of magnesium), but the plant is probably more in need of an all purpose fertiliser and a dose of iron (iron chelates). Apply in spring, when the weather begins to warm and yellow leaves begin to show. Gardenias are warm climate plants, which are at their best in a mild, humid climate. They are seen to perfection in frost-free areas north of Sydney and Perth, but will grow in cooler areas in a warm protected position.

Availability

All varieties except ‘True Love’ are generally available nationwide. Prices range from $10-$12 for a 150mm (6″) pot to $15-$20 for a 200mm (8″) pot.

‘True Love’ is available in New South Wales and Queensland, but may be difficult to find in other states. It costs about $20-$25 for a 200mm (8″) pot.

Australia’s best gardenia

‘Florida’ is one of Don’s favourite gardenias, but there are many other varieties available and not all of them have been properly assessed. If you grow gardenias, whether they be old favourites or some of the newer varieties, write to Burke’s Backyard and let us know which one you think is best. Send your letter to:

Burke’s Backyard
PO Box 929
Willoughby NSW 2068