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The gardenia is a staple in many gardens because of the heavenly and unrivaled scent of the shrub’s white flowers. Gardenia radicans, also known as Gardenia jasminoides radicans, is a smaller version of the traditionally planted shrub with double flowers, but it is equally valued for its lovely sweet scent. Thanks to its compact size, Gardenia radicans fits in many smaller garden spaces, allowing gardens of all sizes to integrate this matchless flowering shrub into the landscape.
The flowers are approximately 1 inch (2.54 centimeters) across and they fade to yellow before dropping from the shrub. The leaves are shiny, leathery, and a deep green, presenting a picture of health, and fertilizing gardenias will keep the leaves looking their best. The Variegata cultivar has leaves that are variegated a creamy white. The growth rate of Gardenia radicans is moderate to rapid, and the spreading branches grow in an open and horizontal formation. The shrub can be used as a groundcover, an accent plant or in a garden’s border. Gardenia radicans has also been used in window boxes and planters because of its trailing habit. Some gardeners also like to plant it in an area where it can cascade down a slope or a wall, making it a focal point when it blooms.
Nurserymen consider this shrub to be a dwarf gardenia because of its smaller size. Gardenia radicans can grow as tall as 2 feet (61 centimeters) and as wide as 4 feet (122 centimeters). Some other types of gardenias can grow as tall as 6 feet (183 centimeters), and they can grow just as wide under ideal conditions. The gardenia is typically a warm weather plant that does not tolerate a hard frost well, and Gardenia radicans is no different. A shrub planted in an area that experiences very cold winters might need extra cover and pampering to survive. Placement in a protected section of the garden will limit the amount of damage gardenias will incur in cold months.
Like other gardenias, Gardenia radicans prefers acidic soil that drains well. Gardenia shrubs can tolerate part shade to full sun, but too much shade will limit the number of blooms. Powdery mildew can be a problem, but not overly so. The plant is considered to be pest resistant and unappealing to deer, but some insects find many types of gardenias attractive, including aphids, thrips, whiteflies, nematodes, mealybugs and mites.
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