What does Gardenia Smell Like? A Guide to the Heavenly Garden Scent

Has a smell ever stopped you in your tracks as you were walking past a neighbor’s garden?

It is one of our favorite games to play on a summer evening walk, guessing which fragrance belongs to which flower. One flower that recently caught our attention is the humble gardenia. The smell was captivating to the point where we wanted to explore the question what does gardenia smell like?

Gardenia has a strong floral aroma, that screams with an acidic citrus freshness. There is a sweet tinge to the scent, that is rounded out with creamy undertones. You have probably experienced the gardenia fragrance without realizing it. It is the base scent in many famous perfumes, like Marc Jacobs Daisy Fame, Flora by Gucci and Tom Ford’s Velvet Gardenia.

What Does Gardenia Smell Like

In this article, we’re going to take a deep dive into the gardenia fragrance. We’ll look at:

  • how the scent is used (particularly in perfumes) and harvested from the plant.
  • We’ll also look at how you can bring the wonderful smell into your home with gardenia cuttings, and
  • how to care for them to make them last.

What Are Gardenias?

Gardenias are a popular plant for home gardeners, due to their beautiful creamy-white flowers peaking out from the deep waxy green leaves. They develop into low to medium-sized bushes that are great as low level hedging or garden borders around the garden.

Many home gardeners actively use gardenia bushes as a strategy to deter deer from eating their garden. As deer don’t like the taste and smell of gardenias, and will generally move onto tastier pasteurs.

What Does Gardenia Smell Like?

What do Gardenias Smell Like

Gardenias are one of those fragrances that you most likely have come across, but just didn’t know it at the time.

It is a fresh smell that evokes feelings of wandering around tranquil gardens in a garden party setting. There is a zesty element to the scent, coupled with whispers of creamy coconut tones to finish.

It is these flavors and tones in the gardenia scent that allow it to be the foundation of many well-known perfumes.

Do All Gardenia Varieties Smell the Same?

For the most part, most gardenia varieties have very familiar scents that are similar enough for you to distinguish that they belong to the gardenia family.

However, what can differ between gardenia varieties, is the intensity of the fragrance that the flowers produce.

Some gardenias grow larger blooms than other varieties. While some plants focus on producing double blooms in place of the more common singular varieties.

Which Gardenia Is the Most Fragrant?

Which Gardenia Is the Most Fragrant?

If you are looking for an intense – smelling gardenia, the Aimee Yashioka variety will be your best pick. They are particularly known for their heightened fragrance that permeates any space that they fill.

If you are looking for a sweeter, less spicy gardenia smell, try the Tahiti Gardenia. It still has the undertones of the original gardenia fragrance, but less intense.

How Long Will Cut Gardenias Last?

Unfortunately, gardenias are very short-lived once they are separated from the main plant. If they are well looked after, you will be able to enjoy their presence for a period of 24-36 hours.

To provide proper care for cut flowers, you will need to change the water in their vase every day with fresh water at room temperature.

It is also advisable not to touch the blooms with your bare hands, as the oils can stain them yellow.

Here is a great short video by ehowgarden for tips about cutting gardenias for display inside.

How To Test Soil pH for Gardenia Soil

Maintaining a balanced and nutrition rich soil is paramount for healthy gardenias with prolific blooms.

Gardenias do best in soils that are neutral to slightly acidic.

The easiest way to test the acidity of your soil is to grab yourself a soil tester from your local nursery or online from Amazon.

It revolutionized our approach to gardening because these soil testers allowed us to fine tune the soils’ conditions for our plants. There was no more guess work involved, and we were able to take a more structured approach to the plants outside.

How is Gardenia oil cultivated?

The process of extracting oil from gardenias is quite a process, and not one that should be attempted at home.

It involves a long process called enfleurage, which is a process involving the use of odorless fats to trap the oils from the gardenia. The fats are then removed with alcohol to leave a strong and fragrant gardenia oil.

What Perfumes Have Gardenia Fragrance in them?

What Perfumes Have Gardenia Fragrance in them?

As we mentioned earlier, gardenia oil is actually used in many fragrances around the world. Let’s take a look at some of the more popular, and well-known, fragrances.

Amarige Givenchy perfume

Is an extremely floral fragrance that incorporates a bouquet of beautiful flowers, like gardenia, acacia, neroli, tuberose and mimosa. It has warm woody notes of sandalwood and vanilla. The name Amarige is an anagram of the French word ‘Mariage’, which is supposed to evoke strong connections with a loving and happy marriage.

Tocca Florence perfume

Gardenia plays a supporting role in this rich fragrance for women. This perfume has stronger fruity notes, like apple, pear and a grapefruit citrus tone. While it isn’t the main feature, the gardenia fragrance plays an important role in rounding the feminine scent out with other floral notes, like jasmine and violet leaf.

Versace Crystal Noir perfume

Crystal Noir is a popular evening fragrance that features a range of interesting scents. Again, gardenia plays a secondary role in this fragrance, giving the perfume a strong floral base. This time round gardenia is paired with the sweet peony smell, and is balanced with a spice mix, including pepper, ginger and cardamom.

Final Thoughts on What Does Gardenia Smell Like

Gardenia is certainly a dominating exotic scent in the home garden. It is one of those intoxicating fragrances that is popular as a base smell in many perfumes.

It is very strong, so it can be a bit polarizing, meaning you either love it or hate it.

Try bringing in some fresh cuttings from your gardenia bush to perfume your house like a lovely summer evening.