Gardenia vs Camellia: 5 Key Differences

Written by Nixza Gonzalez
Updated: October 3, 2022
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Upon first look, gardenia and camellia flowers look very different. These plants are completely different but produce gorgeous blossoms. Whether you are interested in gardening or botany, or you are looking for a new beautiful flower for your garden, keep reading to discover the key differences between gardenia and camellia.

Comparing Gardenia vs Camellia

Scientific ClassificationRubiaceae family. Scientific name: Gardenia jasminoides.Theaceae family. Scientific name: Camellia.
DescriptionBright green and thick leaves. Usually produces white flowers, but sometimes red, yellow, and pink.Bushy flowering plant with glossy dark green leaves. Flowers are typically pink, but they can be green, purple, red, and white, depending on the species.
UsesSome medicinal uses include anxiety, constipation, diabetes, and liver disorders. Fruits and flowers are sometimes used to create dye.Out of the petals, you can make tea, cosmetics, cooking, oil, and so forth. Often grown for decorative purposes. Increases pollinators, including birds, moths, and butterflies.

Key Differences Between Gardenia vs Camellia

Gardenia and Camellia plants are genera of flowering plants in two separate families. That is where their similarities end. While both plants produce fragrant and beautiful blooming flowers, the colors, leaf shapes, and origin differ drastically. Keep reading to learn more about the differences between gardenia and camellia plants and how to tell the difference between both.

Gardenia vs Camellia: Classification

Gardenia plants belong to the coffee flowering family,

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Gardenia plants belong to the coffee flowering family, Rubiaceae. They are evergreen shrubs and trees. There are over 100 species in this genus, and according to Plants of the World Online, there are 128 species of Gardenia plants. Camellia plants, instead, belong to the tea family, Theaceae. These plants are evergreen shrubs with over 100 to 300 species within the genus, not including over 3,000 hybrids.

Gardenia vs Camellia: Description

Camellia plants are shrubs or small trees with red and pink flowers.


These flowering plants look very different, but their appearance changes depending on the species. However, the most common gardenias are creamy white. The plants, sometimes small trees, grow up to 49 feet tall and 19 feet wide. In the middle of the blossoms, you can see a tubular corolla. The petals grow in clusters of 5 to 12.

Camellia plants and flowers look a bit different. They are shrubs or small trees with red and pink flowers. However, yellow-white flowers can be naturally found in South China and Vietnam. The size of the petal depends on the species, but usually, it is large enough to cover a grown adult’s hand. Usually, a camellia flower develops 5 to 9 petals.

Gardenia vs Camellia: Uses

Some species of gardenia can be used for medical purposes.


You can use some species of gardenia for medical purposes; however, there is no scientific evidence that proves it is beneficial. Some gardenia flowers produce a chemical that might reduce insulin resistance, which can help lower the risk of high blood sugar. Gardenia flowers are vibrant and sometimes used as a dye when mixed with other ingredients. It is also possible to create oils from the flowers for perfumes.

Like Gardenia plants, Camellia flowers and leaves are also used to make tea, oils, and perfumes. You can use the tea oil for cooking, and it is especially used in Southern China. In Japan, the oil is mixed with other ingredients to create an oil to keep the hair protected and healthy.

Gardenia vs Camellia: Origin

Gardenia flowers are growing in popularity outside of their natural environment. These flowers grow in the wild of tropical and subtropical regions of Africa, Madagascar and Pacific Islands, Asia, and Australia. It is an important part of the Pacific Islands. Although Gardenias are seen on multiple continents, Camellia plants only naturally occur in eastern and southern China, including Japan, the Himalayas, and Indonesia. They are extremely popular in Europe as a landscaping decoration for homes and museums.

Gardenia vs Camellia: Growing Preferences

Camellia flowers prefer shady areas with some sunlight.


The growing preferences for each genera range. For instance, gardenia plants prefer subtropical climates and excel in USDA zones 8 to 11. They are challenging and need frequent attention, including constantly using fertilizer. Many people have had luck growing gardenia flowers in containers and pots. Camellia flowers prefer shady areas with some sunlight. Too much light and the leaves and petals can burn. They excel in USDA zones 7 to 10 and prefer being grown outside. Since they grow so quickly, they require nutrient-rich soil and fertilizer.

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About the Author

Nixza Gonzalez is a writer at A-Z Animals primarily covering topics like travel, geography, plants, and marine animals. She has over six years of experience as a content writer and holds an Associate of Arts Degree. A resident of Florida, Nixza loves spending time outdoors exploring state parks and tending to her container garden.

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