GARDENIAS (G. jasminoides)
Symbolizes purity and sweetness, and can also indicate secret love and convey joy.
Gardenias are among the most fragrant of all flowers with a classic, heavy, sweet scent reminiscent of green apple. Gardenias have one bloom per stem; each bloom averages 7-10 cm in diameter. The flowers vary in color from pale yellow with purple markings to creamy white. All Gardenia blossoms have an almost wax-like appearance and can be either single or double, depending on the species. The leaves are oval in shape and very shiny.
Commonly known as “Cape Jasmine,” but Gardenias are not a jasmine (Jasminum) at all. They are a member of the Rubiaceae family, which also includes Bouvardia, coffee (Coffea) and Pentas.
The gardenia was named after the eighteenth-century American physician and naturalist, Alexander Garden.
Gardenias were originally found only in China and Japan, but today there are over 200 different species of Gardenia, mostly hybrid, in existence throughout the world. Gardenias are most prevalent in China, Japan, tropical regions of Southeast Asia, the Pacific islands and South Africa.
Gardenias are available year-round from domestic growers. However, these flowers can take 30 days or longer to bloom in the winter, so the quantities will be limited from December through March.
With the proper conditions, Gardenias can grow into shrub-like bushes or small trees that can reach 1.5m in height. Most species of Gardenia are very tender plants and require an average temperature of at least 29C, sunlight with some protection, and just the right amount of humidity. They often survive far better in climate-controlled greenhouses than outside.
Depending on the grower, Gardenias are sold in various grades or qualities. “Premium,” “Perfect” or “First-Quality” blossoms are the largest, whitest and least blemished blooms. The center petals are often sealed with wax.
“Work Gardenias,” or “Seconds” are usually smaller, have blooms that are more opened than the Premium ones, and may have small blemishes or uneven petals. These No. 2 grade flowers are also waxed.
No. 3 Grade Gardenias, sometimes called “Funeral Gardenias” are generally the smallest, most open and most blemished blossoms. When available, they are sold without any protective wax.
Gardenias can be used as cut flowers, but they are short-lived and extremely fragile. They will generally last a single day once exposed to room temperatures. Gardenias will start to turn a creamy yellow hue when left at room temperature and/or exposed to air. These delicate flowers also bruise easily when touched (a reaction to the acids and oils on people’s fingers). They do not take up water after they’re cut, so hydration and flower-food solutions aren’t necessary.
To slow yellowing and prevent bruising, spray Gardenias with a solution of 90 percent water and 10 percent lemon juice prior to use; keep the blooms covered with wet cotton or facial tissue while working with them; and keep your hands wet, touching the flowers as little as possible—and only the backs of the flowers, if possible.
You can lightly touch up bruises or blemishes on Gardenias with white or ivory floral spray paint on a cotton swab, typing correction fluid or even baby powder.
- Frequently seen in hand held bridal bouquets and wedding pieces, they are also an excellent choice to use in water as a beautiful floating bloom.
- Gardenia do not have stems, and often must be wired or glued.
- Gardenia flowers have large beautiful blooms that are perfect for floating in a bowl with some candles.
Remember to expect with Gardenias: a strong fragrance, bruising and yellowing, and a relatively short life.