Gardenia thunbergia (Rubiaceae) Gardenia Tree
A very un-gardenia like gardenia. It’s easy to grow, not picky about soil and produces hundreds of large fragrant blooms. This gardenia grow to ten feet or more, the wood is very angular and light colored, which contrasts beautifully with the dark green foliage. The foliage is crinkled when young, larger and more open with age. The root system is better at nutrient uptake than other gardenias, which have trouble feeding in cool soils like Southern California. For this reason, this species is often used as a rootstock, for grafting, Gardenias jasminoides varieties which are more tropical and have weaker root systems. The species by itself is still very elegant. The single flowers have a flared open end after a long tube. After flowering a large persistent seed forms mid branch, similar looking to a potato. The seed pod lasts for several years, providing much interest. The plant does not bloom when young , probably why it is not seen for sale more. At 5’ the plant will start to bloom in the summer. The older the plant, the longer the bloom season, extending perhaps up to six months. Full sun is best, good soil doesn’t hurt, regular feeding, especially while young, and a nice layer of much is also a good idea. Does well in containers as well.