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As a plant native to tropical and subtropical Africa, the gardenia is known not only for its flawless white petals but also for its emerald green leaves. The gardenia is a flowering plant that is, surprisingly, a member of the coffee family called Rubiaceae. With their heady aroma and gorgeous white blossoms, gardenias have always been a favorite of gardeners, artists and movie goddesses of the past.

Celebs who Loved Gardenias

Joan Crawford famously wore the flower pinned to her dress, as a corsage around her wrist or simply as a prop that she’d hold as she posed for a photograph because she loved them so much: this was her famous “gardenia phase.” Actress Dolores Del Rio is said to have eaten them in salads with rose petals in order to keep her complexion radiant. The novelist Donna Tartt flawlessly described the flower in her book The Little Friend when she noted the “rich, warm, boozy smell of the moth-pale gardenia blossoms.” This imagery evokes the most beautiful summer evening as well as the famous Tuvaché perfume, Jungle Gardenia.

Grow your Own Gardenia

Gardenias can be a bit temperamental when it comes to their growing habits, so it’s important to know exactly what they need to thrive. For instance, a gardenia needs sunlight as well as shade because its leaves may get scorched by too much sun; this can also cause the blossoms to fall off. Also, a gardenia plant’s soil should always be moist but not soggy. The gardenia was actually named after a Scottish-born American naturalist called Dr. Alexander Garden and is known as a symbol of secret love by those who understand the language of flowers.

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