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Article: Featured Scent: What Does Gardenia Smell Like?

Featured Scent: What Does Gardenia Smell Like?

Gardenia is a zesty, fragrant, and floral scent with hints of peach and green undertones. This flower is well known for being part of Billie Holiday’s trademark hairstyle — a garland of gardenias nestled atop her head as her sultry voice soared above jazz bands from the 1930's to the 1950's. 

With its luscious warmth, the smell of gardenias evokes irresistible feelings of calmness and grace, much like the elegant Lady Day herself. 

What Are Gardenias?

Gardenia (Gardenia jasminoides) is an evergreen plant that's native to southeast Asia. It looks like a glossy-leafed shrub with funnel-shaped white flowers and petite oval fruits. It's aromatic petals are known to bloom throughout the summer and fall.  

There are over 200 varieties of gardenias. The most popular variety has several nicknames but is typically referred to as "the Common Gardenia" or "Cape Jasmine,"

The cultivation of gardenia dates back to the Song Dynasty (960-1279 AD), back when the flower was illustrated in Chinese paintings. The first gardenia in the United States was grown in 1762. It was named after Dr. Alexander Garden, a Scottish physician and botanist who studied plants in Charleston, South Carolina. 

Nowadays, gardenia is considered a scent full of southern charm, and is a staple in the fragrance industry. 

What Does Gardenia Smell Like? 

Gardenia is a strong, floral aroma that's slightly sweet with zesty, green undertones and a creaminess similar to coconut.

This feminine scent is the epitome of peace and polished composure. One whiff of gardenia transports you into a Jane Austen novel, taking you through a meditative walk through a serene and well-kept garden.

If you've had the opportunity to smell gardenias before, you might remember the scent as:


  • Richly floral
  • Freshly sweet 
  • Spicy and zesty
  • Slightly creamy and peachy
  • Green, earthy undertones 

The unique scent of gardenia is distinguishable from other floral scents. For example, gardenia smells more feminine than jasmine, creamier than ylang ylang, and lighter than tuberose.

Interestingly, the gardenia flower is capable of changing scents throughout the day. It usually becomes more fragrant during the night as an evolutionary measure to attract nocturnal pollinators. But during the day, the gardenia flower can also emit fleeting puffs of its dreamy scent at random times throughout the day, seemingly on a whim.

Some popular perfumes that feature the intoxicating floral freshness of gardenia include: 


  • Gucci Flora Gorgeous Gardenia
  • Chanel Gardenia Les Exclusifs De Chanel
  • Byredo Casablanca Lily
  • Toca Florence

Where Does Gardenia’s Scent Come From? 

A large portion of gardenia's exquisite aroma comes from the molecules linalool and methyl benzoate. 

Linalool gives gardenia it’s floral scent. It's also found in many other plants, and is often used to give candles, perfumes, soaps, and household products a refreshing smell. 

Methyl benzoate is responsible for the sweet and creamy aroma of gardenia. This fruity scented compound is known for being highly attractive to orchid bees. 

In the past, the essential oil of gardenia was obtained through enfleurage, a method of extraction using animal fats and alcohol. Nowadays, it's essential oil is extracted using palm oil and alcohol to produce the beautiful, sophisticated notes gardenia in perfumes, candles, and other fragrance products.

Benefits of Gardenia in Aromatherapy

Long before it’s rise to fame in the fragrance world, gardenia was used in traditional Chinese medicine to ward off diseases. One study found that certain chemical compounds in the fruit of gardenia, known in China as Zizi, make it a viable option for medicinal use. To this day, Zizi is still believed to activate blood circulation and have a cooling effect on the body. 

In addition to the medicinal uses of it’s fruits, the aroma of gardenia also brings benefits to the body and mind. Inhaling the gardenia scent can actually help reduce oxidative stress in the body, creating a positive impact on mood and reducing feelings of anxiety and depression. 

So release your worries by lighting one of our alluring gardenia-scented candles during a long, relaxing soak in the tub! 

Our Favorite Gardenia Candles

Welcome the soothing bliss of gardenia into your home by adding one of our gardenia-scented luxury candles to your collection. 

Lady Day

Vibrant and full bodied, yet graceful and delicate, just like Billie Holiday herself, this intoxicating blend features a velvet heart of creamy gardenia together with lush green leaves, neroli, bergamot, ylang ylang, and coffee flowers. A warm, addictive base of coconut milk, sandalwood, and vetiver provide the perfect finish.

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A tribute to the vital thoroughfare known as Harlem’s heartbeat, Lenox Avenue, with succulent tangerine and green apple setting the stage for a seductive heart of lush gardenia and creamy coconut with a potent background of sweet bourbon vanilla and gilded sandalwood.

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