Gardenia is a genus of 142 species of flowering plants in the coffee family, Rubiaceae, native to the tropical and subtropical regions of Africa, southern Asia, Australasia and Oceania. Several species occur on Hawaiʻi, where gardenias are known as naʻu or nānū.
The genus was named by Carl Linnaeus after Dr. Alexander Garden (1730-1791), a Scottish-born American naturalist.
They are evergreen shrubs and small trees growing to 1–15 metres (3.3–49 ft) tall. The leaves are opposite or in whorls of three or four, 5–50 centimetres (2.0–20 in) long and 3–25 centimetres (1.2–9.8 in) broad, dark green and glossy with a leathery texture. The flowers are solitary or in small clusters, white, or pale yellow, with a tubular-based corolla with 5-12 lobes (petals) from 5–12 centimetres (2.0–4.7 in) diameter. Flowering is from about mid-spring to mid-summer and many species are strongly scented.
Gardenia plants are prized for the strong sweet scent of their flowers, which can be very large in some species.
Gardenia jasminoides (syn. G. grandiflora, G. Florida) is cultivated as a house plant. This species can be difficult to grow because it originated in warm humid tropical areas. It demands high humidity to thrive and bright (not direct) light. It flourishes in acidic soils with good drainage and thrives on [68-74 F temperatures (20-23 C)] during the day and 60 F (15-16 C) in the evening. Potting soils developed especially for gardenias are available. G. jasminoides grows no larger than 18 inches in height and width when grown indoors. In climates where it can be grown outdoors, it can attain a height of 6 feet. If water hits the flowers, they will turn brown.
In Japan and China, Gardenia jasminoides is called Kuchinashi (Japanese) and Zhi zi (Chinese 梔子); the bloom is used as a yellow dye, which is used for clothes and food (including the Korean mung bean jelly called hwangpomuk).
In France, Gardenia is the traditional flower which men wear as boutonnières.
Source : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gardenia
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