Tahitian Gardenia Plant Growing and Care

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Gardenia taitensis, pronounced [gar-DEEN-ya] [tay-TEN-sis], is a tropical plant species in the family Rubiaceae.

Tahitian Gardenia, also known as Gardenia taitensis or Tiare Flower, is a stunning tropical plant renowned for its fragrant, star-shaped flowers. 

Tahitian Gardenia taitensisPin

These intensely aromatic blossoms radiate a sweet and exotic scent, making them a popular ingredient in perfumes and oils.

Also known as Tahitian gardenia or the tiaré flower, this plant originates from Western Polynesia. It was first discovered and recorded in Tahiti and, to this day, serves as the island’s national flower.

Like other gardenia varieties, Tahitian gardenia is a perennial shrub, flowering every year during the warmer spring and summer months.

Tahitian Gardenia Care

To add some fragrance to your home or garden, you can follow these Gardenia care suggestions to grow a full, healthy shrub.

Size and Growth

As an evergreen, Tahitian gardenia stays lush year-round. The green leaves don’t fall or lose their color, making it a popular decorative choice for warm-weather gardens.

In ideal conditions, the Tahitian can grow up to ten feet tall. When grown in a container, plants typically reach one to three feet tall.

White flower, green leaves, blue sky background.Pin
Photo Credit: Instagram @hauoli.kiku

Tiaré flower gardenia is a moderate grower, adding around one to two feet per year. Young plants typically take one or three years before they start flowering.

Flowering and Sweet Fragrance

Tahitian gardenia is easily recognizable thanks to its glossy dark leaves and small, creamy white fragrant flowers.

The smell is intoxicating, the petals are very thick and waxy, and the green foliage is more tropical than an average gardenia.  

Leaves are long and alternate along the stem of the plant, while flowers grow at the tip. Each is small and pinwheel-shaped, and there can be dozens of flowers on a single shrub. 

A rare form of gardenia with large, fragrant, double flowers and deep green tropical foliage.

While Tahitian gardenia is frequently used in landscaping for its vibrant evergreen and soft white colors, the plant is most prized for its sweet fragrance. Each flower gives off a strong, sweet smell that can carry around a garden.

Light and Temperature

As a plant native to Polynesia, Tahitian is used to tropical conditions. It needs to be warm and humid enough to grow properly.

Tahitian gardenia grows best with warm temperatures between 65° and 70° Fahrenheit during the day. It should also be kept from dropping below 65° Fahrenheit at night, as this may stunt bud formation.

In a dry climate, mist your Gardenia taitensis frequently to mimic a humid tropical atmosphere. Otherwise, the leaves may dry out.

White star-shaped flowers with lush green leaves.Pin
Photo Credit: Instagram @qtradewinds_

Like most Gardenias, the Tahitian plant needs full sun and some partial shade daily to flourish. Plants grow and bloom best with five hours of sun per day minimum, especially during the blooming season.

If you’re planning on growing inside, regulating the climate around your plant should be easy. Outdoors, however, Tahitian grows best in USDA hardiness zones 9 to 11.

Watering and Feeding

Tahitian gardenia needs to have slightly acidic soil for healthy buds. It’s a good idea to add fertilizer twice a month that’s designed for other acid-loving plants, such as azaleas or rhododendrons.

Read this article on the Best Fertilizer for Gardenia plants.

Ideally, the soil should be between a pH of 5.0 and 6.0. A pH that’s too low can stunt growth and affect nutrient intake, while a high pH may lead to chlorosis, which is a yellowing of the stems and leaves.

Tahitian gardenia plants need plenty of water to keep their waxy leaves looking healthy and full.

Overwatering can lead to root rot, a serious condition that can kill the plant. As a general rule, wait until the top inch of soil is dry before watering again.

Most plants require watering once a week to once every other week. However, if you live in a particularly dry or sunny area, you may find yourself watering as often as twice a week.

Feed your Tahitian Gardenia regularly during the growing season (early spring and summer) to promote lush growth and abundant flowering. 

Soil Mixture, Organic Matter & Transplanting

Tahitian gardenias need rich, moist soil similar to that found in their tropical homeland. Adding organic matter, compost, or peat moss can give the soil the nutrients it needs for your plant to thrive.

Dewy white flowers on lush green leaves.Pin
Photo Credit: Instagram @laboutiquedumonoi

Your soil should also have excellent drainage to prevent the roots from rotting. Gardenia taitensis is susceptible to root rot under poor conditions, leading to poor growth, stunted flowers, or even plant death.

You can add small rocks or perlite to improve drainage but try to avoid harsh sandy soil. Remove the lower leaves, dip the cut end in rooting hormone, and plant it in a pot with well-draining soil.  This plant flourishes in well-drained soil and warm climates, offering vibrant, year-round blooms. 

Related: Learn Tips on the Best Potting Soil For Gardenias

Transplanting a Tahitian gardenia plant can be a challenge for even the most seasoned gardeners.

The plants are very sensitive, so you must take care of them when transplanting. Ensure that you use similar soil and plenty of moisture, and keep light and temperature conditions as similar as possible during the process.

Grooming And Maintenance

The Tahitian gardenia is a relatively low-maintenance plant. After the blooming season is over, clip off any diseased or dying foliage to keep the rest of the plant healthy. 

If you’re concerned with aesthetics, you can prune your shrub to stay a certain size or shape.

How To Propagate Tahitian Gardenia

You can easily propagate this tropical shrub Gardenia from cuttings taken from the tip of the branch. It’s best to use cuttings at least 5″ inches long for successful growth.

Once you have a fresh cutting, strip all leaves except for the youngest two sets along the tip. Fill a pot with rich soil, preferably with peat moss or compost. With your finger, make a small hole for the cutting. (Pot size: 2 gallon)  

White gardenia flowers with lush green leaves.Pin
Photo Credit: Instagram @limberlostgardencentre

For best results, dip the root end of your cutting in a rooting hormone solution before planting in the soil.

Tahitian Gardenia Pests or Diseases

Gardenia taitensis is susceptible to many of the same problems as other garden shrubs, including root rot and powdery mildew when left in damp conditions.

The main pests to look out for are Gardenia whiteflies, aphids, and scale bugs. These pests eat the leaves, leaving them exposed to wind, weather, and disease.

Related: Check out these articles on Gardenia Pests and Gardenia Diseases.

You can control pests using dedicated pesticides, though opting for natural, less toxic methods such as neem oil is safer. 

You can also introduce a predator population of ladybugs to help control the issue.

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