Gardenias are prized for their heady fragrance, waxy white blooms, and leathery, evergreen foliage. But that’s not all they have to offer. These plants are also rich in meaning and symbolism, making wonderful gifts for a number of occasions. In this article, we’ll take you through everything you need to know about gardenia flower meanings and symbolism, including their history and origins, uses and benefits, and suitable gifting occasions today.
- Gardenia Flower Meaning – The Essentials
- About Gardenia Flowers
- Uses and Benefits of Gardenia Flowers
- Gardenia Flower Meaning & Symbolism
- Suitable Gifting Occasions for Gardenia Flowers
- How to Care for Fresh-Cut Gardenia Flowers
- Gardenia Flower Care
- Gardening Flowers FAQ:
- Petal Republic’s Flower and Plant Guides:
Gardenia Flower Meaning – The Essentials
The gardenia flower symbolizes trust, clarity, hope, and renewal. It can also convey the message of dreams, intuition, self-reflection, and protection. In parts of Asia, the gardenia flower is symbolic of peace and clarity and is a popular addition to a wedding bouquet or floral arrangement.
About Gardenia Flowers
Gardenia Flowers – Family, Genus, and Taxonomy
Gardenia serves as both the genus name and the common name of this lovely flower. It belongs to the Rubiaceae family, also known as the coffee or madder family. There are approximately 140 identified species of gardenias.
The Botanical Characteristics of Gardenia Flowers
Pure white or creamy white describes nearly all gardenias, except for Golden Magic Gardenia (a cultivar of Gardenia jasminoides, also known as Cape jasmine). This gardenia produces white buds and petals that transform to a lovely yellow as the flower matures.
Popular Gardenia Flower Types, Species, and Cultivars
Gardenia flowers can be single or double petaled, with some resembling a waxy daisy, while others appear rose-like.
Although all gardenias (except for Golden Magic) are white, the shade of white does vary from crisp, cool whites to soft, warm shades of ivory.
Gardenia jasimoides is the most common cultivated species of gardenia. It is also known as Gardenia florida, Gardenia augusta, or Gardenia grandiflora.
Gardenias vary in size and can be classified as dwarf, medium or large gardenias. Some common cultivars include:
- Dwarf Gardenias (2 to 3 feet) suitable for growing in containers or as houseplants include ‘Four Seasons, ‘Golden Magic’, ‘Buttons’ and ‘Crown Jewel’.
- Medium Sized Gardenias (4 to 6 feet) include ‘August Beauty’, ‘Coconut Magic’, ‘Daisy’, and ‘Frostproof.
- Large Gardenias (5 to 12 feet) include ‘Belmont’, ‘Fortuniana’, ‘Miami Supreme’ and ‘Mystery’.
The gardenia was named after 1700s Scottish-American physician and botanist Dr Alexander Garden from North Carolina by plant collector John Ellis.
What Regions Are Gardenia Flowers Native To?
Gardenias are native to tropical and subtropical regions in Southern Asia, Africa, Japan, and China.
When are Gardenia Flowers in Season?
These lovely blooms appear from late spring or early summer to fall.
Uses and Benefits of Gardenia Flowers
In Chinese medicine, the gardenia has been used to calm irritability, reduce swelling and stop bleeding. It is used to treat infections, soothe joint and tendon injuries and in formulas to treat anxiety and depression. However, it should only be used by an experienced Chinese herbalist, warns Encylclopedia.com.
Other medicinal uses depend on the species of gardenia. They include:
- Digestive problems: Gardenia gummifera.
- Constipation: Gardenia storckii.
- Killing Bacteria: Gardenia lucida.
- Treating smallpox: Gardenia pseudopsidium.
- Treating pain, fever, influenza, healing wounds, reducing swelling and treating bladder infections: Gardenia jasminoides.
- Headaches, fever and jaundice: Gardenia augusta.
- Fever, influenza, healing wounds and burns and to stop bleeding: Gardenia campanulate.
- Snakebites: Gardenia labifolia.
Today, this beautiful flower is grown primarily for ornamental purposes and prized for its intense fragrance. The gardenia fruit is known for several herbal remedies, including reducing inflammation and treating diabetes, and liver disorders, but there is not enough scientific evidence to support its use. The chemical acrocetin found in the gardenia berry has also been used for making yellow dye.
Gardenias do attract bees and flying insects but may be bypassed in favor of more colorful flowers in bloom during the summer. Moths flock to gardenias in the early spring and are the major source of pollination for gardenia flowers.
Gardenias are used in leis, in wedding displays and bridal bouquets and are often grown in pots as houseplants.
Gardenia Flower Meaning & Symbolism
Although you may see references to red gardenias, these are not real gardenias. Most are artificial plants with red silk flowers. Other sources may try to sell you red gardenia plants, but they are a hoax.
True gardenia flowers are white, except for Golden Magic Gardenia, which begins white and fades to yellow as the bloom matures.
Traditionally, gardenia flowers have symbolized a number of different meanings and sentiments. The most common symbolic meaning includes trust, hope, clarity, renewal, peace and protection.
In the language of flowers, white flowers are often symbolic of innocence, new beginnings, purity, and elegance.
The Cultural Significance of Gardenia Flowers
Gardenia flowers have frequently featured in popular culture, the arts, and literature. For instance, Billie Holiday was often seen wearing a gardenia in her hair during the Jazz Era making it part of her signature style. Sigmund Freud was also reported to have had a particular affection for the gardenia.
In Greek Mythology, gardenias are sacred to the Greek God of dreams, Morpheus. They were prized for their scent and associated with paradise.
During Victorian times, wearing a gardenia to a social event signaled you were looking for a compatible mate. The gardenia is also the National Flower of Pakistan, and it is a prominent feature of Pakistani wedding celebrations.
What’s more, gardenias have been heralded for their benefits during meditation practices to bring self-awareness and focus.
Suitable Gifting Occasions for Gardenia Flowers
Gardenias are suitable gifts for children’s celebrations such as baptisms and birthdays as they symbolize purity and innocence.
They are ideal for adding to a wedding and anniversary bouquet whilst potted gardenias make a delightful housewarming gift as they also symbolize protection, peace, and renewal.
The gardenia flower is also an appropriate gift for the homebound or for those recovering from an illness or injury.
How to Care for Fresh-Cut Gardenia Flowers
Caring for your fresh-cut gardenia flowers begins with cutting the flower buds. Make sure to wear gloves and avoid touching the flower petals as the oils from your skin will cause them to yellow.
Likewise, if you receive florist gardenias, take care to avoid touching the petals with your bare hands.
- Cut the stem at a 45-degree angle and remove all leaves that will be below the water level.
- Split the stem with a cut approximately 1/2 -inch long. This will allow the stem to uptake water more effectively.
- Fill the vase with tepid water. Flowers uptake warm water more efficiently than cold water.
- Add floral preservative or make your own with 1-teaspoon of sugar and 1-teaspoon of apple cider vinegar per quart of water.
- Change the water every 3 to 4 days or anytime you see signs of mold or discoloration in the water.
Gardenia Flower Care
Gardenias are delightful evergreen shrubs that can be grown in the soil in USDA plant hardiness zones 7 through 11, depending on the cultivar. This flowering plant is also well-suited for container growing in northern climates, but it must be brought inside in the fall when temperatures drop below 60 degrees.
Gardenias make lovely houseplants but can be finicky. They need several hours of direct sunlight a day, do not tolerate drafts well, and need temperatures about 65 degrees during the day and 55 degrees at night to thrive.
Water your gardenia plant when the soil is dry to the touch and apply a water-soluble fertilizer designed for acid-loving plants once or twice a month during periods of active growth, typically from early spring to late fall.
Gardening Flowers FAQ:
Where do Gardenias grow best?
Gardenias enjoy full sun to partial shade and love climates with a moderate degree of humidity during the spring and summer months. They thrive in USDA plant hardiness zones 7 through 11.
Do gardenias flower all year round?
The majority of gardenias start to flower in mid to late summer through fall and into the winter months.
Do Gardenias need sun or shade?
Gardenias grown potted indoors enjoy bright spots throughout the day where possible. Somewhere near a west-facing window would be ideal to protect the glossy leaves from the harsh midday sun but provide sufficient light for them to thrive. Those grown in containers in the garden tend to prefer some partial shade, particularly in the peak summer months.
What do gardenias symbolize?
The gardenia flower symbolizes trust, clarity, hope and renewal. It can also convey the message of dreams, intuition, self-reflection and protection.
Do gardenias come back every year?
Under the right growing conditions, this favorite flower will bloom every year. Ensure they’re not exposed to temperatures below 60F during the summer months and fertilize every 2 to 3 weeks during the growing season.
Petal Republic’s Flower and Plant Guides:
Looking for a particular stem or in need of some inspiration on the best blooms for a certain occasion? Check out Petal Republic’s expert flower guides to Roses, Jasmine, Bouvardia, Acanthus, Ranunculus, Lilies, Irises, Borage, Clovers, Freesia, Anemone, Begonia, Orchids, Allium, Carnations, Coreopsis, Gerbera Daisies, Gladiolus, and Peonies.
Madison is a writer and editor with a Bachelor’s degree in History and Political Science. She writes and photographs for various online and print publications in the gardening sphere and is the author of the book The Next-Generation Gardener.
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