Thunberg's Gardenia, Starry Gardenia

Gardenia thunbergia

Family: Rubiaceae
Genus: Gardenia (gar-DEEN-ya) (Info)
Species: thunbergia (thun-BER-jee-uh) (Info)




Tropicals and Tender Perennials

Foliage Color:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Characteristics:

Flowers are good for cutting

Flowers are fragrant

Water Requirements:

Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Where to Grow:

Grow outdoors year-round

Suitable for growing in containers


6-8 ft. (1.8-2.4 m)

8-10 ft. (2.4-3 m)

10-12 ft. (3-3.6 m)

12-15 ft. (3.6-4.7 m)

15-20 ft. (4.7-6 m)


24-36 in. (60-90 cm)


USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 C (10 F)

USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)

USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 C (20 F)

USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)

USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 C (30 F)

USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 C (35 F)

USDA Zone 11: above 4.5 C (40 F)

Sun Exposure:

Sun to Partial Shade


Parts of plant are poisonous if ingested

Bloom Color:

White/Near White


Bloom Time:

Late Spring/Early Summer

Mid Summer



Other details:

Unknown - Tell us

Soil pH requirements:

5.6 to 6.0 (acidic)

Patent Information:


Propagation Methods:

From softwood cuttings

By simple layering

Seed Collecting:

Allow pods to dry on plant; break open to collect seeds


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

La Mesa, California

North Hollywood, California

San Diego, California

Solana Beach, California

Upland, California

Naples, Florida

Tampa, Florida

Kurtistown, Hawaii

Harlingen, Texas

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Gardeners' Notes:


On Oct 8, 2013, leeschu from North Hollywood, CA wrote:

I too am waiting for my gardenia thunbergias to bloom. The plants themselves are very green and interesting. I collected one seed pod in 2004. Planted the seeds and was very impressed with how many seedlings grew. (more than 30) And each of the following two years new seedlings sprouted. I have only just recently planted some in the ground. I have most of them in pots. I've been giving them away for a few years. They do seem to grow nicely in both sun and shade and are drought tolerant. They vary in form, some are taller, some shorter, and the leaf size varies too.... update 7/19/2016: First blossom opened today. Bush has buds on most branch tips. So excited!


On Jul 14, 2010, maydog from La Mesa, CA wrote:

This is a very different type of Gardenia as I'm sure anyone who has seen it already knows. It is not at all free flowering like it's Gardenia augusta/jasminoides cousins. If you feel like waiting 3-4 years, it will probably start flowering for you in a once yearly impressive summer flush of fragrant blooms, more and more profusely as it grows.

By the way, if a person wants a lot of blooms from their Gardenia veetchi, Gardenia Mystery, beds - fertilize weekly and stand back. My customers are always blown away by the sheer volume of flowers. I tend to alternate between a soluble 20-20-20, and 9-9-9 (with iron chelates and sulphur). I suspect the key is a consistent feeding schedule.


On Sep 30, 2009, sdbaba from Solana Beach, CA wrote:

I have one of these in my (San Diego, CA coastal area) backyard, next to our deck. It only blooms when the weather really warms up - say high 70's-80's and the humidity rises. It took it 5 years to produce a single beautiful flower. Now at 9 years, it blooms a lot, smells fabulous and is simply gorgeous when properly pruned. So glad I didn't 'edit' it out of the garden.


On May 4, 2008, MotherNature4 from Bartow, FL (Zone 9a) wrote:

I have never grown this plant, but it is used as rootstock for other gardenias grown for the sandy soils of Florida. This root stock is resistant to root knot nematodes which do in most gardenias on their own roots.


On May 1, 2007, katrinas from Redondo Beach, CA (Zone 11) wrote:

The fragrant flowers are large with long tubes and spreading petals. I have seen this plant blooming at Los Angeles Arboretum (next to the waterfall) and at Quail Botanic Garden at the stairs behind the open lawn. The old Monrovia Growers grounds in Southern California had a standard shaped tree on the north side of the office house, but I never saw that one in bloom. South Coast Botanic Garden also has a plant with shrubby growth down to the ground. My favorite locations are at LAA and QBG as they are next to stairs and can be viewed from above and below.


On Jun 15, 2005, palmbob from Acton, CA (Zone 8b) wrote:

I have seen one of these in a botanical garden several differnet times of the year, and yet to see it flower... but has bizarre, huge fruits (for a Gardenia) so it probably flowered before these formed.


On Mar 20, 2004, GailMarie from Riverside, CA wrote:

Although this plant appears healthy, I have yet to have it bloom in the three years it has been in my garden.