‘Crown Jewel’ gardenia is a low-growing, spreading to prostrate gardenia with intensely fragrant, white, medium-sized double flowers beginning in early summer and repeating until frost. A flush of blooms in May is followed by repeat blooming throughout the summer, until fall brings another heavy flush of blooms. Light pruning after the first bloom-period stimulates even more blossoms. ‘Crown Jewel’ blooms on both old and new wood, so late frosts will not harm the crop’s flowers.
This gardenia variety is an easy care, broadleaf evergreen hybrid in a versatile dwarf size and requires little, if any, pruning to stay in shape. ‘Crown Jewel’ grows about 6 inches per year with the potential to reach 2 or 2 ½ feet in height and a spread of 4 to 6 feet wide, ideal for garden beds. The plant is hardy to USDA Zone 6, and bright green foliage is medium to small-sized for the species, with a soft texture overall.
This genus is native to the tropical and subtropical regions of Africa, southern Asia, Australasia and Oceania. Gardenias are easily grown in the southeastern United States because they demand high humidity and rich, acidic soils to thrive.
‘Crown Jewel’ comes from a controlled cross between dwarf ‘Kleim’s Hardy’ and ‘Chuck Hayes.’ The plant prefers well-drained, moist soil and full sun to partial shade, as well as good air circulation. Organic compost is preferred, but light applications of commercial azalea fertilizer or diluted acid-forming fertilizers can work, although too much can burn tender roots.
A cooler, woodsy environment protects from the harsh reflective heat of concrete or asphalt. Shelter from cold winter winds helps to prevent tip dieback at the colder edge of the plants’ range.
The gardenia makes an ideal evergreen plant for containers where the fragrance can be enjoyed on decks and patios. While cold-climate gardeners must over-winter their gardenias indoors (it can be grown as houseplant), in Zone 6 and warmer, gardenias are grown outdoors.