There is something magical about the very name – gardenia – that turns our minds to warm, sensual evenings in southern gardens. These beautiful evergreen bushes, and their perfumed white flowers, are often coveted, but they have a reputation for being difficult to grow. As well, some of the traditional varieties grow too large for smaller gardens. So it may come as a surprise to discover that there are new varieties of gardenias that are not only much smaller, and will fit into any size of garden, but which are also much easier to grow, while still flooding your garden with their exotic perfume. These newer varieties also bloom not only in spring, but through summer and into fall as well, so that you have beautiful white blooms and their delicious fragrance for months, not weeks, of the year.
One of the newest and best of these smaller varieties is the ScentAmazing Gardenia. It grows into a dense, small bush about 3 feet tall and across, fitting perfectly into any small garden, directly in the ground, or in a planter. It has thick, glossy and rich-green leaves that are lance-shaped. These cover the shrub completely, from top to bottom, creating a unique dense, mounded structure. This is one of the most compact and densely branched gardenias available, and it needs no trimming to keep its perfect form. The flowers are not the common double gardenia flowers, with many petals. Instead the flowers are perfect white stars made of six rounded petals, with a yellow center that radiates out 6 narrow yellow strands, like a tiny star within a bigger, white star. The flowers are large, a full 2 inches across, and born in profusion, so that the bush can be completely covered in flowers, almost hiding the foliage.
The flowers are much more durable and resistant to disease than the double forms, which are prone to decay and may fall from the plant before even opening. This, and the generally strength and resistance of the plant, make the ScentAmazing Gardenia very disease tolerant. Unlike some other single gardenias, this flower floods perfume into the air, as strongly as any double variety. Flowering begins in spring, and then from late spring to fall it will alternately rest, then return with another covering of blooms. This creates several flowering cycles a year, a great advance on the ‘once a year’ flowering of other varieties. As the flowers fade, remove them by cutting the stem one leaf below the flower. Cut back to just above the next leaf. This will encourage quicker and more prolific re-blooming.
The ScentAmazing Gardenia grows well throughout zone 7, and through all the warmer zones. It will grow throughout the south, as far north as Delaware in the east, and up the west coast to the Canadian border. Many people can grow gardenias, who thought they couldn’t. Choose a sheltered spot, away from wind, in a partially-shaded spot in your garden. The ideal location has sun in the morning and shade in the afternoon, especially during the hottest months. This will protect it from burning and make it easy for your plant to thrive.
It does best in moist, acidic soil with plenty of organic material in it. If you don’t have suitable soil, or you want to be able to bring your ScentAmazing Gardenia onto a terrace or inside your porch, then grow it in a pot, using soil for acid-loving plants. In a pot, of course, it can be grown in much cooler zones, simply by providing some shelter during the winter months in a well-lit place. These kinds of gardenia are much easier to grow than the sensitive, over-sheltered plants sold by florists.
The gardenia, Gardenia jasminoides, which is also sometimes called Cape jasmine, can be found growing wild in India and all the way into Vietnam, southern China and to Japan. The Chinese have been growing it for a thousand years, enjoying its fragrance and beauty, and it was first grown in America in Charleston, South Carolina in 1761. This was by a naturalist called Dr. Alexander Garden, who had been sent a plant by his botanist friend, John Ellis. It grew well there, and Ellis named the new plant after Dr. Garden. It became very popular in the South and was once grown commercially for the corsages worn by ladies at Southern balls.
The ScentAmazing Gardenia was developed by Robert Edward Lee, in the town of Independence, Louisiana. This is a small town north of New Orleans, and there Robert was working to develop improved forms of gardenia. He grew some seeds he had produced from a variety called ‘Daisy’, and among the seedlings one stood out as special. He found it in October 2000, and spend years testing it, and trialing it with other growers until he was satisfied that he really did have something special. So special indeed, that in January 2017 he was granted a patent on his new plant.
Our plants are grown under license for Robert E. Lee, from carefully selected stem pieces. They are guaranteed to be this exact variety, which is officially called ‘Leetwo’. There is a lot of interest in gardenias, and we know that such a beautiful new variety as this will not be in stock with us for long. Order now and fill your garden with beauty and fragrance for month after month.