Yes, I too thought they were the same thing: gardenias and tree gardenias. But, they apparently are not.
Taxonomists often seem to rename plants needlessly, however, there is usually a good reason although often unknown to the average gardener. This means that the common name of many plants no longer relate to their botanic name.
A classic example of this is Rothmannia globosa (September bells). It was previously classified as a gardenia and therefore its name tree gardenia made perfect sense.
To add to the confusion in some countries there is also another gardenia that is called the tree gardenia. But let’s ignore that.
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It is a small tree or large shrub that will grow to between 2m and 4m high and is quite narrow being about 1.5m wide.
The highlight of the Rothmannia is no doubt the flowers, with a gentle soft scent that is, of course, reminiscent of the gardenia genus that they once belonged.
Flowering can be very heavy, indeed smothering the plant and providing a fantastic show or display of the normally pure white blooms.
They are not especially fussy about soil and they can grow well in clay gravel and sand though as usual the better condition the soil the healthier the plant.
If you live in a coastal area they may be better suited to container a growing. They are tropical in origin and their preference is for a warm sunny aspect and they do like to be kept moist during the warmer months. Once established, they are quite drought hardy.
Scale can be an occasional problem but other pests and diseases are rare.
Using a good quality, well balanced general fertiliser will encourage strong, healthy new growth.
These are not widely grown, yet they are hardy, adaptable, versatile and easy to grow and propagate. Ask your nursery if they can obtain any.