Gardenia Flower Meaning, Symbolism, and Uses


Everything You Need to Know About Gardenia Flowers

Gardenias are a genus of flowering shrubs and plants that contain approximately 140 species that vary in size from a mere 2 feet to nearly 50 feet in height. These impressive plants are prized for their heady fragrance, waxy white blooms, and leathery, evergreen foliage. Gardenias are tender perennials that thrive in USDA plant hardiness zones 8 through 11 with some hardy varieties surviving in zone 7. They are grown as annuals (or houseplants) in cooler regions. Here we’ll take you through everything you need to know about these beautiful blooms including gardenia flower meaning and symbolism; their history and origins; uses and benefits; and suitable gifting occasions today.


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 wedding bouquets and floral arrangements. 

About Gardenia Flowers

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 (Gardenia ‘jasminoides’). 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 ‘Schechteri’, 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”.

Etymological Meaning

The gardenia gets its name from 1700s Scottish-American physician and botanist Alexander Garden from North Carolina.

What regions are Gardenia Flowers native to?

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?

Gardenias bloom from late spring or early summer to fall.

Uses and Benefits of Gardenia Flowers

Uses and Benefits of Gardenia Flowers

In Chinese medicine, the gardenia has been used to calm irritability, reduce swelling and to 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 experienced Chinese herbalist, warns

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’.

Gardenias are grown primarily for ornamental purposes and are prized for their 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

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 can have symbolized a number of different meanings and sentiments.. The most common include trust, hope, clarity, renewal, peace and protection. 

In the language of flowers the color white is often symbolic of innocence, new beginnings, purity, and elegance. 

The Meaning, Symbolism and Cultural Significance of Gardenia Flowers

The Meaning, Symbolism and 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.

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

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.

What’s more, Gardenias 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 appropriate gifts for the homebound or for those recovering from an illness or injury.

How to Care for Fresh-cut Gardenia Flowers

How to Care for Fresh-cut Gardenia Flowers

Caring for your fresh cut gardenia flowers begins with cutting them. 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.

  1. Cut the stem on a 45-degree angle and remove all leaves that will be below the water level.
  2. Split the stem with a cut approximately 1/2 -inch long. This will allow the stem to uptake water more effectively.
  3. Fill the vase with tepid water. Flowers uptake warm water more efficiently than cold water.
  4. Add floral preservative or make your own with 1-teaspoon of sugar and 1-teaspoon of bleach per quart of water.
  5. Change the water every 3 to 4 days or anytime you see signs of mold or discoloration in the water.

Wrap Up

Gardenias are delightful evergreen shrubs that can be grown in the soil in USDA plant hardiness zones 7 through 11, depending on the cultivar. They are also well-suited for container growing in northern climates, but they 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: 

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 8 through 11.

Whilst some hardy cultivars may produce year round blooms, the majority of gardenias start to flower in mid to late summer through fall and into the winter months.

Gardenias grown potted indoors enjoy bright spots throughout the day where possible. Somewhere near a west-facing window would be ideal to protect the delicate foliage 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.

The gardenia flower symbolizes trust, clarity, hope and renewal. It can also convey the message of dreams, intuition, self-reflection and protection.

Under the right growing conditions, gardenia flowers 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, Bouvardia, Acanthus, Ranunculus, Lilies, Irises, Borage, Clovers, Freesia, Anemone, Begonia, Orchids, Allium, Carnations, Coreopsis, Gerbera Daisies, Gladiolus, and Peonies.  


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