Gardenia vs Jasmine: What Are The Differences?

Written by Luxia Le

Updated: January 23, 2023

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The untrained eye might be unable to tell the difference between gardenias and jasmines immediately. But once you’ve learned the differences, it’s hard not to see what makes them so different! First, jasmine and gardenias are not two single plants but two genera, encompassing many species of flowering plants. Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about gardenia vs. jasmine.

Comparing Gardenia vs. Jasmine

Planting SeasonFall, but cooler climates need to plant during the springSpring
Flowering SeasonSpring to fallSpring to fall
Flower ColorCream, white, red, pink, pale yellow, some purple mottlingWhite, yellow
Planting ZoneZone 8: An area that gets morning sun and light afternoon shade but avoids midday sun. Zone 7: Full to partial sunFull sun to partial shade
Stems & BranchesLight gray stem, shrubDarker stem, climbing vine
LeavesGlossy, 4.7 inches1.2 to 3.15 inches
Scent ProfileStrong, tropical, sometimes smells like rootbeer or wintergreenStrong, indolic

The 7 Key Differences Between Gardenia and Jasmine

Gardenia has glossy leaves which can be almost five inches long.

The main differences between gardenia and jasmine are the size of their leaves and the appearance of their stems and branches. Gardenia has much larger leaves than jasmine while jasmine grows as a climbing vine rather than a bush. The other differences between them include their scent, planting season, and the amount of sun that they require.

Gardenia vs. Jasmine: Planting Season

Gardenias and jasmines both grow year-round once planted. However, there are notable differences in where and when these plants should be planted to best propagate them. For example, gardenias are best planted in the fall if you’re in Zone 8 or any other warm climate. However, if you live in cooler weather, such as USDA Zone 7, you’ll actually want to plant them in the spring.

Planting your gardenias in the spring allows them to settle into the soil before the cool weather. Also, getting ahead of the colder winters in Zone 7 will help your gardenias grow back and bloom again once the cold weather ends.

On the other hand, jasmine should typically be planted in the spring. This gives them all spring and well into the fall to grow, propagate, settle, and flower. It is worth noting that if you plan to grow your jasmine as a twining vine, you’ll need a structure like a trellis or an arbor to support the plant, or it will droop and not propagate well.

Gerdenia vs. Jasmine: Flowering Season

Jasmines flower from spring to fall but have a slightly longer flowering season than gardenias. Gardenias typically flower into the fall but tend to taper off beginning in August. However, jasmines continue to bloom well into fall.

Gardenia vs. Jasmine: Planting Zone

Both gardenias and jasmines should be planted in an area with full sun and partial shade. However, gardenias are much more sensitive to sunlight than jasmines. Therefore, you’ll want to ensure that your gardenias are planted somewhere that avoids the harsh midday sun, or they could burn. However, a temperature of around 70° Fahrenheit is ideal for gardenias. At night, the temperature should be between 60 and 65° to be suitable for the plant.

Although less sensitive to the sunlight, jasmines prefer slightly cooler weather than gardenias. Growing jasmines, you’ll want to look for temperatures between 65 and 75° on average.

Gardenia vs. Jasmine: Scent

Another big difference between gardenia and jasmine is the scent profile the two have. Both have distinct scents that people can typically identify once they’ve become accustomed to them. However, the aroma of nearby gardenias is much more potent than that of jasmine and can become overbearing if the plant is too close to living spaces.

Jasmines’ smell is far more indolic than gardenias, but gardenias have a more potent scent. Gardenias tend to smell somewhat tropical. Some report gardenias to smell like rootbeer or wintergreen.

Gardenia vs. Jasmine: Stems & Branches

The stems and branches of gardenias and jasmines are among the most noticeable differences between them. The stems of a gardenia bush are grayish, and the plant grows as a shrub. On the other hand, jasmines are a type of climbing plant with vine-like branches that grow vertically against surfaces the plant borders.

Both plants can be grown as shrubs. But the care and propagation of the plants are different. Jasmines are semi-vining shrubs that will climb a trellis and grow around 5 to 10 inches in a year. As such, they’ll need to be pruned frequently to assist in the propagation and growth of the plant.

Gardenias will also need to be pruned to keep the bush from growing too wildly. However, the pruning is limited to when the plant has finished flowering unless it is newly planted. Young gardenias need to be pruned more often than established plants.

Gardenia vs. Jasmine: Bloom Pattern

Common jasmine

Jasmine typically have small, star-shaped flowers

One of the primary differences between jasmines and gardenias is the bloom pattern. Gardenias will bloom with one flower per branch, and the flowers will be waxy, thick, and layered. Jasmines bloom in bundles; the flowers are typically thin and have four to five petals in the shape of a star.

Gardenia vs. Jasmine: Leaves

The leaves of gardenias and jasmines are one of their most defining features. Jasmines have short leaves that measure around 1.2 to 3.15 inches centimeters. The leaves are rather stubby and almost don’t look proportional with such delicate and long flower petals.

Conversely, the leaves of a gardenia bush are long and glossy, measuring about 4.7 inches in length. This is one of the easiest ways to tell the difference between a gardenia bush and a jasmine vine.

Final Thoughts

Whether adding a new plant to your garden or trying to identify a plant already there, there’s no end to the unique and unforgettable plants living on our Earth. Gardenias and jasmines may look similar, but they’re very different plants and require care that suits their needs. These plants make beautiful gardens or houseplants that can liven up your living space.

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