Guettarda speciosa, Beach Gardenia, Zebra Wood

Guettarda speciosa

Beach Gardenia, Zebra Wood
Family: Rubiaceae
Origin: Tropical Pacific
Small tree 10-20 ftFull sunRegular waterWhite, off-white flowersFragrant plantSeaside, salt tolerant plant

Guettarda speciosa (Beach Gardenia) is a tropical plant native to the Pacific region and thrives in seaside conditions. This plant is a larger shrub or small tree, and grows to roughly 10-20 feet tall with a noticeably open, irregular crown. It has large, deep-green, prominently veined leaves and delightful, off-white to white flowers that are both fragrant and long-lasting. The fragrance is subtly different from that of the exotic gardenia and is pleasantly mild. After the flowers die off, they are followed by small, 1 inch wide, globe-shaped, and hard fruits.

This tropical species is easy to grow and care for, and can be a great way to liven up a garden. It can be grown in USDA Zones 9-11 with full sun and regular watering. Guettarda speciosa is also known to be salt-tolerant, making it a great choice for a seaside garden. It is best grown in a container in climates with colder winters and can be brought indoors during cold snaps. To keep this small tree healthy, it should be planted in soil that drains well and is kept consistently moist during active growth. To encourage growth and flowering, fertilizer can be added in spring, summer, and fall. Pruning should also be done regularly to keep the plant healthy and looking its best.

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