Gardenia Flower: Meaning, Symbolism, Colors & Care

Are you looking for the perfect flower for your wedding bouquet?

Maybe you are going to a child’s birthday party and would like to give flowers?

Or perhaps you want to tell someone that you dream about them?

Gardenia flower is the ideal choice for all these situations.

The delicate nature of this flower and its fragile, soft appearance has always fascinated people worldwide.

In addition, gardenia’s intoxicating, warm and exotic scent has made this flowering beauty a favorite decoration of gardens and homes.

The white, waxy flowers of the gardenia, at the same time delicate and powerful, have made it an indispensable symbol of beauty, innocence, purity, and loveliness.

However, this flower carries many more meanings and symbols, making it loved and respected in different cultures.

Throughout history, the meaning of this flower has changed somewhat, but it had always remained one of the favorite choices when people wanted to express their admiration and affection.

Although they can be challenging to grow, gardenias are worth the effort!

If you want to enjoy the gorgeous fragrance and sight of these delicate white flowers, arm yourself with patience, and the effort will pay off.

The Origin of the Gardenia Flower 

Gardenia decorates beautiful garden landscapes worldwide.

People grow it in homes, gladly gift it and use it for flower arrangements and decoration.

Gardenia is the name of the flower and the name of the genus to which it belongs.

Gardenia is part of the Rubiaceae family, sometimes called the coffee, madder, or bedstraw family.

There are more than 140 species worldwide, but when discussing the gardenia flower, we usually think of Gardenia jasminoides, known for their unique fragrance.

Gardenia jasminoides is sometimes called Gardenia augusta, Gardenia florida, and Gardenia grandiflora.

Gardenias are native to tropical and subtropical climates, blooming from late spring to early fall.

Gardenias come from parts of Asia and Africa, as well as some tropical islands, and the origin of the most famous of them, Gardenia jasminoides, is mainly associated with China.

However, Gardenia jasminoides also grows in other parts of Southeast Asia, such as Cambodia, Bangladesh, Japan, Laos, and Vietnam.

In these parts of the world, gardenia mainly grows in forests, on hilly terrains, and along streams.

Although gardenias are almost always white, and their shade varies from a cold, pure white to a warm, creamy hue, there is also yellow gardenia flower.

Golden Magic Gardenia or Cape jasmine is known for its petals turning yellow from a white bud.

Gardenia flowers have single or double petals. While the flowers of some varieties resemble daisies, others are richer and resemble roses.

Gardenias can be of various sizes, so different varieties belong to dwarf, medium, or large gardenias.

Some of the most famous dwarf gardenias are Golden Magic, Buttons, Four Seasons and Crown Jewel.

They are often grown as houseplants or planted in containers.

Medium-sized gardenias include Frostproof, Coconut Magic, August Beauty, and Daisy.

Some large gardenias can grow up to 3.5 meters (12 feet). Fortuniana, Mystery, Belmont, and Miami Supreme are the most famous varieties.

The Etymology of the Gardenia Flower 

The gardenia flower was named in honor of Alexander Garden, a Scottish-born American scientist and naturalist.

Carl Linnaeus and John Ellis named this genus, and the story behind this event is exciting.

Namely, Alexander Garden was primarily involved in medicine, but he was also very interested in botany and zoology.

When Alexander Garden moved to the Lowcountry of South Carolina in the mid-18th century, he began collecting and studying plants and animals from the area.

Having no one in his environment with whom to share his interests, he began to send his observations and specimens to the zoologist John Ellis in London and the scientist Carl Linnaeus in Sweden.

The data shows that Alexander sent more new species to Linnaeus’s collection than anyone from North America.

Because of this contribution, a plant was named after Alexander Garden.

History says that Carl Linnaeus was reluctant to name a plant after this scientist, but John Ellis convinced him to do so anyway.

What is ironic about the whole story is that the gardenia flower itself had nothing to do with Alexander Garden’s work.

Moreover, Garden probably never even saw this beautiful flower in his life.

The symbolism of the Gardenia Flower 

A lot of symbolism is hidden in the stunning and fragrant gardenia flower.

The meanings associated with this flower stem from its appearance, fragrance, and the impression it makes and varies depending on the context.

The main symbols of the gardenia flower are:

  • Beauty
  • Refinement
  • Tenderness
  • Innocence
  • Purity
  • Dreams and intuition
  • Trust
  • Clarity
  • Renewal
  • Hope

Gardenia is often a symbol of beauty, refinement, and tenderness because it is precisely what the white petals of her flower look like.

The Gardenia flower doesn’t like to be touched a lot because its petals are incredibly delicate.

Because of this, this flower is sometimes considered a symbol of untouched, gentle beauty.

The gardenia is also a symbol of innocence and purity, again due to the whiteness of its flower.

This makes it a favorite floral addition to various religious ceremonies and celebrations that glorify love and new beginnings.

The role of this flower in such occasions is to emphasize the purity and sincerity of emotions.

This gorgeous flower is often associated with spiritual and mystical phenomena like dreams and intuition.

If you want to tell someone that you dream and fantasize about them, a good way is to give them a gardenia flower.

People sometimes use the gardenia flower in meditation.

Because of this flower’s association with intuition and dreams, some people believe that seeing gardenia flowers in dreams is a powerful message from the subconscious.

Therefore, according to this belief, if you dream of a gardenia flower or find yourself seeing this flower unusually often, you should question the message your subconscious is sending you.

Gardenia is also a symbol of trust and clarity. While there is no ambiguity with trust, clarity can have positive and negative connotations.

Gardenia, as a symbol of trust, sends a message of reliability. It’s a good gift for a partner or a faithful friend.

Things get a little complicated when it comes to the clarity symbolized by the gardenia flower.

On the one hand, the gardenia flower says that there is no doubt and that you are entirely sure of your relationship with the person you give the flower to.

On the other hand, clarity can also have a negative connotation.

The gardenia flower can be a way to say that everything has been clear to you for a long time, that you are aware of someone’s lies and that you know more than you should.

This flower is sometimes a symbol of renewal, a fresh start, and hope.

Beautiful white buds convey the message that it is time for new beginnings that will bring improvement.

They remind us not to go back to the past but to look to the future.

It is a flower that warns us that we shouldn’t repeat the mistakes of the past and that we should always hope that better days are ahead.

Gardenia Flower Meaning 

This flower has various meanings in different cultures.

From the ancient Greeks, through Eastern civilizations and Victorian England, to popular culture, gardenia has occupied an important place everywhere.

It is revered and worshiped everywhere for its beauty and fragrance, but it has been interpreted differently and used on different occasions.

The Meaning of the Gardenia Flower in Greek Mythology 

Greek mythology, a treasure trove of symbols and hidden meanings, also mentions the fascinating gardenia flower.

In Greek mythology, this flower enjoys the protection of Morpheus, the Greek god of dreams.

The Greeks also associated gardenia with the moon, sometimes calling it moon fruit or moon tears.

Because of its strong connection to dreams and the subconscious, the Greeks believed that the scent of a gardenia flower could transport you to the Elysian fields of paradise.

The Meaning of the Gardenia Flower in Eastern Cultures 

In Eastern cultures, the gardenia flower means purity and clarity.

Because of these characteristics, it was often used throughout Asia for wedding ceremonies, wishing the newlyweds to begin a life full of sincerity and mutual trust.

China is one of the countries where the gardenia flower originates, so this plant has a long tradition, developed symbolism, and application there.

The Chinese never considered this flower only a decoration but also appreciated its excellent utility value.

Chinese traditional medicine long ago realized that people could use this flower to alleviate various psychological ailments, anxiety, and depression.

The secret is in its aroma. Much later, science confirmed this belief and proved that the scent of the gardenia flower acts as a mild antidepressant and thus can treat various mood disorders.

However, scientists and herbalists warn that people can perform aromatherapy with this plant only under professional supervision.

The Chinese have also used the gardenia fruit for centuries to dye food and fabrics yellow.

In the Chinese lunar calendar, the gardenia flower represents the eleventh month.

Feng Shui associates the gardenia flower with attracting suitors for young girls. People believe parents will help their daughters marry better if they bring this flower into their home.

Flowers are significant in Buddhism, and one of the flowers sometimes seen in Buddhist temples throughout Asia is the gardenia flower.

It is also very interesting that the gardenia flower is associated with the traditional Japanese games of Shogi and Go in Japan.

These games are a kind of Japanese chess. The legs of the table on which these games are played are traditionally carved in the shape of a gardenia.

The answer is very unusual if you are wondering why this is so. Namely, in Japanese, gardenia is called “kuchinashi,” which sounds the same as “no mouth.”

The design of the game table serves to remind the players and the audience talking is not allowed during the game.

The Meaning of the Gardenia Flower in Victorian England 

In the conservative English society of the Victorian era, expressing emotions was considered highly inappropriate, so conveying messages was left to the subtle language of flowers.

At the time, a gardenia flower could mean two things.

On the one hand, this flower symbolized secret love, so lovers often gave it as a gift to confirm their secret and usually forbidden love.

On the other hand, the gardenia flower also meant the search for a partner.

In Victorian times, if you were invited to a social event, you would wear a gardenia flower to show that you had decided to settle down and were looking for a suitable partner.

Today, the English look at this flower with great respect. For the English, gardenia flowers are beautiful but at the same time simple and modest, so they consider it an indicator of perfect style.

Also, in the UK, it is believed that a gardenia flower will bring good luck if you give it to a young man.

The Meaning of Gardenia Flower in France 

In France, gardenia flowers are traditionally considered appropriate for special occasions and big celebrations, so they are worn by both men and women.

One type of gardenia, known as Tahitian gardenia or Tiare flower, as the locals call it, comes from the islands of French Polynesia.

Besides being adored for its beautiful fragrance and considered a symbol of love and romance, the gardenia flower is the way to attract or repel suitors for both women and men in this region.

If worn behind the left ear, the gardenia flower indicates that the person wearing it is occupied.

On the other hand, if worn behind the right ear, the person is available and open to new acquaintances and romances.

By the way, women traditionally wear blooming gardenia flowers, and men wear buds.

The Meaning of Gardenia Flower in Louisiana 

In the subtropical climate of Louisiana, gardenia flowers thrive well.

This flower represents the casualness of the southern way of life and is considered a symbol of hospitality.

These fragrant flowers are especially loved in New Orleans.

Gardenia Flower in Popular Culture 

Whether for the beautiful contrast that the white color of the petals makes against the glossy green leaves or for the enchanting fragrance, the gardenia flower has been adored for centuries and is often found in popular culture.

Photos of American jazz icon Billie Holiday with a large white flower in her hair are well known. But only a few people know the story behind it.

While preparing for a performance in her dressing room one evening, Billie Holiday accidentally burned part of her hair with a curling iron.

Trying to cover up the terrible mistake, the jazz diva put a gardenia flower in her hair, which her colleague ran to get.

She took the stage with a magnificent white flower in her hair, and after this performance, she continued to wear it as a charm.

Over time, the gardenia flower became her trademark, symbolizing her elegance, uniqueness, and strength.

After this, many famous and anonymous women wore the gardenia flower in their hair the same way, whether they wanted to pay homage to Lady Day or just liked the look.

The whole story about the gardenia flower in Billie Holiday’s hair has a wider social significance. Lady Day’s childhood and early career were marked by discrimination and racism.

The white gardenia flower in her hair, which became the emblem of her appearance, somewhat changed how American society viewed the beauty of African-American women until then.

When Hattie McDaniel 1940 won the first Academy Award ever given to an African American for her role in Gone With the Wind, she wore a white gardenia flower in her hair at the award ceremony.

Seventy years later, Mo’Nique Hicks also won an Oscar and wore the same white flower in her hair at the awards in honor of Hattie McDaniel.

The gardenia flower was also a favorite of many other celebrities; among the most famous are the well-known psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud and the fashion icon Coco Chanel.

Due to its intoxicating and exotic scent, this flower has inspired many perfumes.

Color Meanings of the Gardenia Flower 

Unlike many other flowers, the gardenia doesn’t come in many colors.

Gardenias are always white, except for a yellow variety known as Golden Magic Gardenia.

However, their white color can vary in shades, from icy white to a warm shade of ivory.

Although red, pink, or even orange gardenia flowers are sometimes referred to, these are artificial flowers or other types that resemble gardenias.

White Gardenia Flower – Meaning 

The color white traditionally signifies purity, innocence, clarity, and tenderness.

Accordingly, the white gardenia flower also carries all these meanings.

In many cultures, this is a favorite flower for wedding ceremonies.

On these occasions, the white gardenia flower emphasizes the purity and sincerity of emotions and wishes the newlyweds a life together full of tenderness and love.

The white color of the gardenia flower has another meaning, and it is related to the sensitive petals of this flower and their tendency to change color to brown if touched.

Because of this, the gardenia flower sometimes symbolizes sublime and untouchable beauty.

Therefore, if a man wants to tell a woman that he considers her unattainable and that she seems fragile and delicate because of her beauty, he can give her a white gardenia flower.

Yellow Gardenia Flower – Meaning 

The variety known as Golden Magic Gardenia develops from white buds into beautiful yellow flowers and carries a lovely and sublime meaning.

This flower is a symbol of beauty that develops and changes with age.

Just as a flower changes its color, a woman matures and grows from a gorgeous young girl into a woman of mature beauty.

This flower is a unique way to tell your beloved woman that she will always be beautiful for you, just like on the first day.

Suitable Gifting Occasions for Gardenia Flowers 

Gardenias can be an appropriate gift for a loved one for any occasion.

So many positive meanings are attached to these flowers, and you can give them as a gift for a birthday, anniversary, wedding, or another joyful event.

Since they symbolize innocence, purity, and tenderness, gardenia flowers are suitable gifts for children.

You can give them as gifts for birthdays or baptisms.

Also, you can delight the new mom with a bouquet of white gardenia flowers.

If you need a housewarming gift, a potted gardenia can be a good choice, as it symbolizes hope and new beginnings.

However, don’t give this plant as a gift to people who don’t have the time or will to deal with flowers because gardenia requires a lot of care.

If you want to tell someone going through a difficult time that things will get better soon, gardenia flowers are an excellent way to do it.

Gardenia Flower Care 

This beauty with delicate flowers is a demanding plant.

It needs a lot of light during the winter, while it is suited to a semi-shade position in the summer.

Gardenia blooms in summer, and it needs a lot of moisture during that period.

For flowers to appear, the temperature must be at least 16°C (61°F) at night and significantly higher during the day.

During this period, the gardenia is watered every other day and mustn’t be in direct sunlight.

In winter, the plant is dormant and prefers cool weather – between 12°C and 15°C (54°F – 59°F). Then it is watered once every ten days.

Gardenia needs fertilizer in spring and summer.

Fresh-cut gardenia flowers are also an excellent decoration for your home, but they are just as delicate as the potted plant.

First, to prevent the flowers from darkening, never touch them with your bare hands.

Cut the stem with a sharp 45-degree cut, then split it slightly at the bottom to help absorb water more effectively.

Place the stems in a vase of lukewarm water and add a floral preservative or a mixture of a small amount of sugar and apple cider vinegar.

Change the water every three days.

If you take good care of your flowers in a vase, they can last up to several weeks.

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