Gardenias are one of the best alternatives to roses for those who may not be able to grow the penultimate flower for climate or care reasons.
Of these, Gardenia jasminoides (gar-DEE-nee-ah jaz-min-OY-deez) is one of the most popular Gardenia varieties.
Most commonly referred to as cape jasmine (or jessamine, if you live in the South), this perennial native of China and Japan is a perfect representative of the Rubiaceae family.
That is where the cultivar ‘Radicans’ comes in.
These evergreen shrubs are bred to be more compact than its parent. Radicans is perfect for bringing outdoor beauty inside, making it easier than ever to grow these amazing plants.
Gardenia jasminoides’ Radicans’ (or simply Gardenia radicans, for short) has several nicknames, most of which are shared with its parent, such as:
- Cape Jasmine
- Cape Jessamine
- Creeping Gardenia
- Dwarf Gardenia
- Jubilation Gardenia
- Miniature Gardenia
- Trailing Gardenia
Gardenia Radicans Care
Size & Growth
Radicans is a dwarf cultivar, forming a more compact, rounded bush than its parent.
The exact size and growing speed can vary based on its conditions.
However, these acid-loving plants will grow to be 1 to 2′ feet tall and 2′ to 3′ feet wide, with the hardiest ones achieving up to 4′ feet around.
The stems begin green and turn brown as they age, tending to double with pruning, allowing you to decide how dense or sparse you wish the foliage to be.
It has evergreen, dark, oval to oblong leaves that are glossy green above and lighter, matte green on the underside.
Each leaf is 1″ to 3″ inches long and up to an inch wide and branches off from the stems in opposite pairs or in groups of three.
However, the real treasure of gardenias is their flowers.
White Flowers with Intoxicating Fragrance
From late spring throughout the summer, the leaves of your radicans will be wonderfully contrasted by flower buds turning into fragrant white blooms.
The white to cream double flowers are smaller than their parent plant, measuring 1″ to 3″ inches across.
It can have as few as 7 petals, resembling a daisy when in full bloom, or as many as 20 to give it that roselike appearance gardenias are famous for.
Light & Temperature
As with all gardenias, ‘Radicans’ loves sunlight but has its limits.
More northern climates and indoor plants will require 4 to 8 hours of full sun per day and may be placed in either full sun or light shade.
Further south, where it’s hotter, your ‘Radicans’ will prefer dappled shade to partial shade with no more than 6 hours of direct sunlight per day.
In the warmest climates, aim for full sun only in the morning or evening and shade during midday.
This gardenia cultivar prefers moderate humidity.
You may choose to plant miniature gardenias in USDA hardiness zones 7a to 11a, although they prefer zones 7b to 10.
Try to avoid exposing younger plants to too much cold, but a well-established ‘Radicans’ can be cold hardy down to 10° degrees Fahrenheit.
You can also keep these plants in containers if in colder climates, bringing them indoors when the temperature drops.
Watering and Feeding
Finger test the soil and water thoroughly when it feels dry 2″ inches down.
Use distilled water or rainwater when possible, and cut back the waterings in winter to reduce the risk of frost on outdoor plants.
Feed every 3 to 4 weeks between April and November using a high nitrogen formula.
You may also choose to use a slow-release fertilizer once in spring.
Soil & Transplanting
Dwarf gardenia is highly adaptable to almost any well-draining soil type.
It prefers slightly acidic soils high in organic matter, when possible.
For container plants, any good-quality moist potting mix, such as MiracleGro, will work wonders.
You may wish to add 2″ inches mulch over the soil, especially on outdoor plants.
The mulch will help keep the roots from getting too hot or cold and keep the soil from drying out too quickly during droughts.
Additionally, a mulch of pine straw or bark will help add to the soil’s organic content.
Repot every 2 years in the spring and only increase the container one size at a time as needed.
Radicans doesn’t mind being a little root-bound, and this will actually cause it to put more resources into its flower production.
When transplanting, be very careful to handle the roots as little as possible, as they are extremely sensitive.
Grooming And Maintenance
While not essential, pruning after the plant’s finished blooming can lead to new, fuller growth.
Remove dead branches, and thin out overcrowded areas and provide better air circulation.
You may also choose to deadhead the flowers just below the leaf node to encourage more activity.
How To Propagate Miniature Gardenia
You can propagate this dwarf cultivar using the same methods as its parent plant.
Cuttings tend to be the most popular method, although it’s also possible to harvest the orange fruit for planting.
Dwarf Gardenia Pests or Diseases
Once your dwarf bush has become established, it’s incredibly resilient and is:
- Cold hardy down to 10° degrees Fahrenheit (although it doesn’t like frost on the roots)
- Deer resistant
- Disease resistant
- Drought resistant
- Heat Resistant
A number of common pests are known to attack gardenias, including:
- Aphids on Gardenias
- Spider mites
Related: What Pests Attack Gardenia Plants
While generally resistant to disease and fungal infections, infestations can open the door to a few health problems.
Anthracnose, leaf spot, powdery mildew, and sooty mold are the most common problems.
Gardenia Radicans is non-toxic to humans, both big and small.
However, it can cause some minor toxic reactions when consumed by cats, dogs, or horses.
Symptoms include diarrhea, hives, and minor vomiting, although it is generally not dangerous.
Gardenia jasminoides ‘Radicans’ Uses
The heady scent of dwarf gardenia’s flowers will not only attract pollinators such as bees and butterflies, but it can also attract humans.
Its small size makes this cultivar a perfect fit for containers and low borders.
The orange hips attract songbirds.
Use Radicans in a wide variety of garden settings or in front of taller plants.