Ask almost any dedicated gardener and they’ll tell you that the Gardenia is one of their prize flowers. With beautiful evergreen shrubs that grow up to a 15-metres tall. The plants look beautiful all year round and flower with stunning and highly-scented blooms come summertime.

Interestingly, the dark green leaves and pearl white flowers of the Gardenia are part of the Rubiaceae family which also includes coffee plants and cinnamon leaves. Native to the tropical and subtropical regions of Africa, Southern Asia and Australasia, Gardenia doesn’t grow easily on UK soil. But dedicated horticulturalists like to try. The beautifully scented flower goes by many names. However, in the UK is named after American doctor and botanist Alexander Garden (we can think of no more apt a name!). Who discovered the plant in the 18th Century.

The Scent

Sultry as a hot summer’s evening. The exotic flowery fragrance of Gardenias are a huge part of their appeal (although they look rather beautiful too). Picture lying in a flower dappled garden in the height of the summertime and you begin to conjure up the Gardenia scent. It’s thought that Marc Jacobs (he of Daisy fame). Created his first ever perfume to evoke “gardenias floating on the water”. Perfect for summer or for summoning the feel of a sultry summer’s eve in the middle of January. The scent of Gardenia is cool, bold and fresh as well as woody, feminine, floral.

The fresh scent of Gardenia is a staple of many perfumes, lotions and candles. It features in Tom Ford’s Velvet Gardenia, Flora by Gucci and many more besides.

Where does Gardenia come from?

There are thought to be some 250 varieties of Gardenia. They require warm conditions to grow and bright but not direct sunlight (this can cause their delicate leaves to wilt). The soil requires a high level of nutrients and moistness without saturation. All in all, attempting to grow these flowers is not easy in changeable European weather but they grow freely and wildly in warmer climes.

Check out our map below to discover the flower's most popular regions for cultivation.

How is Gardenia oil cultivated?

Even though there are some 250 types of gardenia plant. The oil is extracted from just one: the ever-popular gardenia jasminoides. The essential oil is available in two forms: pure essential oils and absolutes which are extracted using two different methods.

Traditionally, gardenia oil is extracted through a process known as enfleurage. The technique involves using odourless fats to trap the essence of the flower. Alcohol is then used to remove the fat, leaving only pure oil. This process is notoriously time consuming, it can take several months to an intense fragrance. Essential oils using this method can be pricey.

The more modern technique uses solvents to create absolutes. Different manufacturers use various solvents so while the process is quicker and cheaper, the results can be more varied.

The uses and benefits of Gardenia oil

As you may expect from a flower discovered over 1,000 years ago. Gardenias are widely grown and even more widely loved. The beautifully scented gardenia oil has a host of additional uses and benefits.

Considered to be an anti-inflammatory, gardenia oil has been used to treat disorders such as arthritis. It’s also thought to stimulate probiotic activity in the gut which could enhance digestion and increase nutrient absorption.

Gardenia is also said to be great to help you fight colds. The reported antibacterial, antioxidant and antiviral compounds present could help people to fight respiratory or sinus infections. Try adding a few drops (along with a carrier oil) to a steamer or diffuser and see if it could clear stuffy noses. The oil has even been said to have healing properties when diluted well and used on wounds and scratches.

Mind and Body

If you’re someone who uses scent to improve your mood, then gardenia could be just the thing for you. Supposedly the floral scent of gardenia has properties that can induce relaxation and even reduce stress. What’s more, when used as a room spray. The antibacterial properties could clean the air of airborne pathogens and eliminate odour.

Studies are limited but it’s been claimed that gardenia could help you to lose weight. Compounds in the flower could accelerate metabolism and even streamline the liver’s fat-burning ability. It’s thought to contain a peptide (GLP-1) that could help you to feel fuller for longer. Alternatively, adding a few drops to a diffuser could act as an appetite suppressant.

According to certain sources, gardenia could even be used as an aphrodisiac. The heady scent is thought to stimulate the libido and can be diluted and used as a massage oil or adding to a bath.

If you’re in need of a facial but don’t quite have the time to make it to the salon then a few drops added to a pot of hot water can do wonders for skin. The antibacterial properties could help to improve and maintain healthy skin.

Whether you’re looking to improve your mood and raise your libido or you’re simply looking to enjoy an exquisite floral fragrance that evokes warm summer nights. Rich gardenia might just be the scent for you.

If this introduction to the uses and benefits of gardenia oil has got you excited to sample the scent for yourself. Head over to our dedicated page, here.