The Scent Guide: What Does Gardenia Smell Like?

 isolated white gardenia flower

Source: cameilia/

Gardenias are a symbol of the South. Worn by jazz singer Billie Holiday whenever she performed, her signature gardenia was noted by the poet Cornelius Eady to be “Like a fist if a fist could sing.” In essence, the gardenia is both gentle and defiant with its milky white petals and sultry, intoxicating scent. A southern diva, if you will.    

But what does gardenia smell like? Let’s explore this wonderful southern scent and the gorgeous, timeless white bloom where it comes from.  

The Gardenia Bush

New Orleans Candle

Gardenias, or Gardenia Jasminoides, are a tropical evergreen that grow beautiful white-petaled flowers. Each flower puts off a wonderful scent, which is often what many gardeners look forward to, especially since gardenias are quite high-maintenance (much like a Southern debutante). 

The gardenia bush often grows well outdoors across the southern United States, which is why it is associated with the region and the Pacific Coast. All across the southern states, you will find gardenias growing strong and wild in forests and along mountainsides. And when you enter a space where bright white blooming gardenias are prevalent, you will smell their distinct aroma. 

However, gardenias are not always associated with the South. Gardenias actually originated in Asia, growing as wild bonsai-like bushes in Vietnam, Southern China, Korea, Japan, India and other gardens of the region. It wasn’t until the 18th century that southern botanist and physician, Dr. Alexander Garden of Charleston, South Carolina, had the gardenia named in his honor. 

So what does gardenia smell like? Let’s explore this captivating white flower.  

Use a Wick Cutter to Trim When Necessary

What Does Gardenia Smell Like?

gardenia flower blooming

Source: Ancha Chiangmai/

Gardenias are a very fragrant flower, capable of changing scents throughout the day. During an evening stroll through a gardenia-filled garden, you will get a spicy, zesty scent with green undertones. Overall, the gardenia flower also gives off a creaminess reminiscent of coconut and even a fuzzy peach skin. 

Often, gardenias bring to mind other flowers. One such flower is the heady jasmine, sharing its velvety notes. Other times, they come across more like lilies or ylang ylang. What does ylang ylang smell like? This flower is best described as having a deep, rich aroma with a subtle sweetness, combined with hints of custard, jasmine, banana and more. 

Love the Smell of Gardenia? Check Out Our New Orleans Candles!

5 Gardenia Homesick Scents

If you like the scent of gardenia flowers, take a look at these Homesick candles. Some have straight gardenia notes, while others have similar notes of other gardenia-like scents, such as magnolia, jasmine and ylang ylang. 

New Orleans

The New Orleans candle features a strong gardenia scent, like those that line the historic Garden District. Paired with allspice, orange and beignet, this New Orleans candle will transport you to the hometown of the Mardi Gras and King cakes. 

Louisiana Candle

If you’re not from NOLA but a Louisiana native, you’ll appreciate the Louisiana candle, made up of a variety of southern blooms. Honeysuckle and magnolia offer mid notes, balancing out the top notes of sweet potato and bright orange citrus while you also get a hint of country jasmine. 

South Carolina 

The South Carolina candle features bright top notes of grapefruit, lemon and bergamot, balanced out with mid notes of the southern magnolia and even base notes of ylang ylang, both offering a gardenia-like scent.

Georgia Candle

Representing another southern state filled with gardenia bushes is the Georgia candle.  With mid notes of magnolia and a musky base note, this Peach State-inspired candle definitely gives those creamy peach and water lily top notes with a subtle hint of gardenia.  

Thank You, Mom

The Thank You, Mom candle makes a perfect gift for the matriarch of the family. This nostalgia-scented candle smells like a fresh bouquet on the kitchen table with breakfast cooking nearby. Top notes of bergamot, lavender and sage are set off by mid notes of jasmine and ylang ylang, which lend a gardenia-like aroma along with the lily base notes. 

Keep Your Gardenia Scented Candle Lasting Longer

Learn proper candle care and keep your candles lasting longer, cleaner and safer! With our high-quality wick cutter, trim the wick at least ¼ inch before burning the candle to prevent uneven burning and more. Then, use the wick cutter again to trim before each burn. Plus, it comes complete with a custom bag to keep it stored and protected.