Gardenia taitensis, pronounced [gar-DEEN-ya] [tay-TEN-sis], is a tropical plant species in the family Rubiaceae.
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 & 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.
Tiaré flower gardenia is a moderate grower, adding around one to two feet per year. Young plants typically take one and 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.
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.
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 an entire garden.
Light & 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° degrees Fahrenheit during the day. You should also make sure it doesn’t drop below 65° degrees Fahrenheit at night, or 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.
Like most Gardenias the Tahitian plant needs full sun with some partial shade every day 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, it should be easy to regulate the climate around your plant. 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 rhododendron.
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.
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.
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.
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 death of the plant.
You can add small rocks or perlite to improve drainage, but try to avoid harsh sandy soil.
Transplanting a Tahitian gardenia plant can be a challenge for even the most seasoned gardeners.
The plants are very sensitive, and so you must take care when transplanting. Ensure that you use similar soil, 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, simply 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 five 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 something mixed with peat moss or compost. With your finger, make a small hole for the cutting.
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.
You can control pests using dedicated pesticides, though it’s safer to opt for natural, less toxic control methods such as neem oil. You can also introduce a predator population of ladybugs to help control the issue.