Cape jasmine is a flowering shrub native to China, Japan and Taiwan. It is grown as an ornamental for its intensely fragrant flowers and glossy evergreen leaves. In colder climates, cape jasmine is best grown in containers and moved indoors during the winter. It belongs to the plant family Rubiaceae and is identified under the species name Gardenia jasminoides. It can also be found under its common name: gardenia.
The shrub grows 5 to 6 feet (about 1.5 to 1.8 m) tall with a spread similar to the height. The flowers bloom periodically throughout the season and are creamy white with intense fragrance. Cape jasmine is a broadleaf evergreen and retains its leaves all year round. While this does mean that the shrub is never bare, it also means that it sheds leaves continuously as old ones die and new ones grow in.
Outside, it grows best in fertile soil high in organic matter, and good drainage is essential for growing a healthy cape jasmine. The soil in the panting area should be amended before adding this shrub to the garden or landscape. A 4-inch (about 10-cm) deep layer of leaf mold, sawdust, seasoned manure or well-rotted compost dug into the top 12 inches (about 30 cm) of the planting area can create a healthy soil environment. Additionally, cape jasmine requires a spot in a partly shaded area.
A fertilizer formulated for acid-loving plants should be applied in spring as the first flush of new growth is beginning. A second fertilizer application can be applied in summer. It is important to discontinue fertilizing cape jasmine in fall to allow the plant to go into a dormancy period. The shrub can be pruned in late summer when the main flush of flowers has faded.
Cape jasmine can withstand winter temperatures as low as about 20°F (-6°C) when fully dormant. Houseplants, however, should not be moved outdoors until the weather is consistently above 60°F (about 15°C). Temperatures below this can damage developing flower buds and leaf buds in non-dormant plants.
The evergreen leaves and fragrant flowers make cape jasmine well suited as a houseplant. It should be grown in a pot filled with light quality potting soil and placed in a spot that gets bright, filtered sunlight. In summer, the plant can be placed outside in a shaded area. Potted shrubs should be watered once a week, or when the top 1 inch (about 2.5 cm) of the soil feels dry.