Well known for its fragrant, showy, creamy white flowers which contrast with its lustrous dark, shiny green foliage, Gardenias are a must have in the garden. This shrub is native to the subtropical and tropical regions in Japan and southern China. It ideally grows in moist but well-draining soils, rich in organic material and with an acidic pH.

The Cape jasmine grows to a height of between 1 and 3m, depending on the variety. It blooms profusely from spring to summer and even into autumn. The flowers have a sweet fragrance, resembling the jasmine. Flowers can be solitary or in small clusters and can appear single or double. Most flowers last between three to eight days, opening white and maturing to a creamy-yellow colour. It is an excellent cut flower and adds a touch of elegance to flower arrangements.

In late summer and autumn, orange red berries known as Gardenia hips appear, which will attract birds and wildlife to the garden. Gardenias can be planted in partial sun and need an average amount of water. It is not always tolerant to cold conditions and advice should be taken when selecting a particular variety.

Gardenia jasminoides is a versatile plant that is well suited for container growing on the patio, hedging or as a specimen plant. When planting Gardenia jasminoides, one should avoid competition from tree roots as gardenias have shallow roots and do not do well with root disturbance.