Rosal / Gardenias

Rosal or Gardenias (Gardenia jasminoides) have gard1an incredibly strong scent that can permeate a large room. Native to Southern China, the plant now thrives in many parts of the world. Gardenias have these white blooms that get flatter as they mature… they turn yellowish as they “ripen” and die off. Their leaves are a shiny dark green. The peak of the bloom is brief but the strength of the fragrance is truly intense. I can see why they often form the base scent of perfumes or room fresheners! At the market yesterday there was a vendor with thousands of gardenias for sale. I bought ten small bunches for PHP150 (USD3) and made two small arrangements. They will last just two or three days but will leave an impression on the senses. In the past, these flowers were often used for corsages but I haven’t seen a gardenia corsage in many years.

We planted dozens of rosal plants at our place in Batangas years ago but I rarely gard2manage to coax a bloom out of the bushes. Maybe the soil isn’t acidic enough or they don’t get enough sunlight. Or they realize I truly have a black thumb. Placing a single bloom in a bowl of water is perfect for a small bathroom, the fragrance is really amazing. At a dinner table, several arrangements can look visually stunning but I find the fragrance to be too intense and it can interfere with the food and more so if your guests are using all sorts of cologne and perfume. Best used in an outdoor table arrangement as the breeze or drafts of air reduce the intensity of the fragrance. Personally, I think the phrase should be “Wake up and smell the gardenias!” instead of roses…


12 Responses

  1. You’re right about that phrase “Wake up…”. I personally don’t like the scent of roses, Gardenias smell more fragrant for me.

  2. A single gardenia arrangement was usually put on her hair by Lady Day herself, Billy Holiday. You see this in many of her photos and film, particularly the one made with Diana Ross playing her role, The Lady Sings the Blues.

    Gardenia has an ambivalent connection though in the minds of older Manileños because Gardenia Street was the notorious red-light district of Pre-war Manila. I do not know if they retained the original name or they sanitized it with something inoffensive.

    Around ten years ago, Anick Groutal released a fragrance of the same name and promoted them with scratch-strips in magazines. They tamed the intense scent by quite a bit so it was not offensive at all. I still refer to this promo whenever I want to get a whiff of the lovely scent.

  3. Gardenia Street has been renamed, I understand. Rosal is the more common name in Manila, precisely to avoid the street association…

  4. Is that why there’s a Gardenia motel in the Sta. Mesa district? Hmmm
    I’m a gardenia fragrance fan, but find it hard to get good quality blooms. Where did you buy your bunches MM? As for roses, the old heirloom roses are the best, but the roses in the markets these days don’t have any fragrance left. I remember the old dark pink and deep yellow roses that bloomed all over our house in L.A., and how fragrant they were.

  5. The rosal were from the garden section of the FTI market on Saturdays. If you get there early they have a big selection. Expect to throw out 1/3 of blooms if you want a really nice bouquet ut at 3 small bunches for PHP50, or ten cunches for PHP150, it’s very reasonable.

  6. We have a gardenia bush in our back yard, and I don’t know how my father does it, but it blooms all year round. I’ll have ask him about what he does so they do that…

  7. Pia, I am envious. I even saw a baby plant at the market today that was 8 inches tall and it already had a bloody bloom! I have over 15 bushes and I rarely get anything at all!

  8. If they are planted near concrete (driveways, foundations) they may not do well because it leaches lime that makes the soil alkaline. If they are in soil too rich in nitrogen, they will be too leafy and less blooms. There is a miracle gro for acid loving plants, or, add compost and organic materials around the base to help neutralize the PH. I hope Pia gives an update. It’s such a pretty flower.

  9. Hello, I am a Spanish-Filipino who now resides in the USA–I would have uprooted the 12 rosal plants in our house in Jaro, Iloilo City had I made my mind up where to live-Europe or USA…But I did not…Where in the USA-CA can I find this plant-this reminds me of our dad, and this flower is always placed in the family altar. Please respond. I had been looking for years. I found one lady in Northride who have a huge plant but I do not know how to graft. Please help. I have lots of roses but Rosal beats them all.

    my profound thanks,

  10. regina, any large nursery or wholesale flower market should have gardenias (rosal) when in season. I have seen them for sale in the NY wholesale floral markets and I presume they would be even more available in California. Check around and ask for gardenias… hope you find some!



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