Blooming in the summertime, jasmine flowers are known for their sweet, exotic fragrance on warm evenings. This unique scent is often used in perfumes, and the flowers are widely popular, too — varieties of jasmine are the national flowers of the Philippines, Indonesia, and Pakistan.
Not all jasmines are aromatic, though many popular varieties are. Some prefer warmer climates and bloom in the heat of the summer, and others are everblooming and make great houseplants with year-round blooms. While many jasmines are cared for like a sprawling shrub, there are vining varieties and ground covers as well, which makes it even more complex. There’s even some which aren’t true jasmines, but are commonly confused with jasminum. So is your plant Star Jasmine, or just a starry jasmine – and is that even really a jasmine?
Are you considering trying to grow jasmine shrubs? Confused about what’s actually jasmine and what isn’t? Then read on, and we’ll explore the species in detail!
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|Height||Variable by cultivar, from 1’-6’ if vining, 1’-4’ if shrub|
|Light||Full sun to light shade|
|Temperature||Warm (zones 9-11 ideal, some varieties cold hardy to zone 7)|
|Humidity||Jasmine loves humid environments.|
|Soil||Well-drained, moderately fertile|
|Propagation||Cuttings, grafts, occasionally seed if it’s viable|
|Pests||Some fungal diseases, root knot nematodes, whiteflies|
Types of Jasmine
There’s around 200 varieties of jasmine out there to choose from, but here we’ll look at a few of the most popular ones. There are both scented and unscented varieties to choose from, and they come most commonly as shrubs or vining varieties.
Jasminum officinale ‘Common jasmine’, ‘Summer jasmine’, ‘Poet’s jasmine’
Also called white jasmine or true jasmine, this white-flowered deciduous climber is the state flower of Pakistan. Its five-petaled flowers are often referred to as starry in shape due to their natural petal arrangement, and its slightly-fuzzy leaves tend to be sharply pointed. It flowers in the summertime, although it can be encouraged to flower at other times of year indoors, in climate-controlled greenhouses, or in very warm climates. White jasmine flowers are also harvested for production of essential oil, as they are an aromatic variety. It is a semi-evergreen variety.
Jasminum grandiflorum ‘Spanish jasmine’, ‘Royal jasmine’
Jasminum officinale forma grandiflorum, or Jasminum grandiflorum, is a subset of the officinale variety. It is raised for its aromatics, and from the grandiflorum species, jasmine absolute is produced for the perfuming and food industries. Tending towards a jasmine bush or shrub, it can also be gently trained to climb.
Jasminum nudiflorum ‘Winter jasmine’
Winter jasmine tends to flower earlier in the year than other varieties, tending towards late winter or early spring. It produces brilliant yellow flowers on vines, and is best trained to trellis growth or used as a slightly-mounding ground cover.
Jasminum sambac ‘Arabian jasmine’
This jasmine shrub flourishes in warm environments, and has been classified as an exotic invasive in Florida. It tends to sprawl, and while it typically grows in the 4-6 foot range both tall and wide, it can reach sizes of close to 10 feet. If maintained as a shrub it will bush out, but it can be trained to supports to create an evergreen vining growth pattern as well. This true evergreen variety has glossy leaves. Its attractive white, multilayered flowers are used to make leis in Hawaii, and it is the national flower of the Philippines and Indonesia. Jasminum sambac is also popularly used to offer its strong fragrance to jasmine teas.
Jasminum parkeri ‘Dwarf jasmine’
Dwarf jasmine is popular for container or topiary use, and it’s easy to see why – its natural form is an evergreen shrub, about a foot tall and with small stems that can easily be shaped to form around a topiary frame, and it can sprawl a few feet across. It is an evergreen, and produces clumps of five-petaled yellow flowers. While lightly scented, it does not produce as strong of an aroma as Jasminum officinale or sambac.
Jasminum fruticans ‘Wild jasmine’
This jasmine loves a Mediterranean climate, and produces prolific amounts of yellow flowers on vibrant green foliage from spring through the fall. It can grow to be about 4 feet tall and wide, but if trained as a vine requires support for weak stems. Wild jasmine is an odorless cultivar. This variety is an old one – it was first documented by the Padova Botanic Garden in Venice, Italy in 1545!
Jasminum dichotomum ‘Gold Coast jasmine’
This woody jasmine vine is unusual in that it originated in Africa, unlike most of the other varieties that originated in Asiatic regions. It produces pink-colored buds which then bloom into six-petaled white flowers year-round in warm climates, and has shiny dark green leaves. However, it’s also an invasive plant in many regions, as it spreads quite rapidly.
Jasminum polyanthum ‘Pink jasmine’
This varietal is quite popular as a house plant, as it can easily create long, trailing vines. As a twining climber, it can reach heights of six feet if supported by a trellis. The name pink jasmine refers to the pink buds which appear in large quantities in spring, and they bloom into five-petaled star-like white flowers. It can bloom year-round in warmer climates or indoors.
There are multiple other plants that are commonly called jasmine, but aren’t even related. Here’s some to be aware of, as they don’t have the same growth habits!
Cestrum nocturnum ‘Night-blooming jasmine’, ‘Lady of the night’
While not actually a jasmine, night-blooming jasmine might have gotten its name in part out of confusion – it’s also called night-blooming jessamine. It is actually a member of the potato family, but not an edible one. In fact, it may very well be poisonous. While its flowers produce a sweet, strong aroma, people who have respiratory issues or asthma often have breathing problems around this plant. The list of issues caused by actually eating it is extensive, and it’s often considered to be an invasive plant as well. But it produces tubular white flowers that have a star-shaped, five-pointed blossom at the end, and it can occasionally be mistaken for vining forms of jasmine. Still, for all of its potential dangers, it really is quite beautiful!
Trachelospermum jasminoides ‘Star jasmine’
Quite often found in southern California or other warm areas of the United States, this namesake of a true star jasmine is actually a different form of shrubby vine, although it does resemble jasmine in a lot of different ways. Its growth patterns are similar, its creamy-white flowers are similar to the white star-shaped true jasmine flowers, and it produces a sweet fragrance. While it can survive quite well in the southern US, it is an annual in most other regions and often must be brought indoors to keep it alive during colder months. As it shares the common name ‘star jasmine’ with some true jasmines, be sure to check the botanical name to make certain that you are getting the plant you are looking for.
Gardenia jasminoides ‘Cape jasmine’
While this gardenia species does have white flowers and shiny dark green foliage, that’s really where its similarity to a true jasmine ends. Its flowers are more gardenia-like in shape than jasmine, and its leaves tend to be larger and thicker. While it also has a scent, it is more similar to gardenia than to jasmine, and even though it is beautiful and a popular plant in warmer climates, it has different growth patterns and care required.
While planting jasmine itself is quite simple, where to plant it is a bit more complex. Overall, most jasmine species like warmer climates, and can grow year-round in zones 9-11. Some species, like jasminum officinale, are winter-hardy to zone 7 with protection. They can be planted indoors as well as a houseplant.
When to Plant Jasmine
Like most plants, jasmine needs a little time to stretch out its roots before hitting the heat of summer. Plant after the last threat of frost is gone, or start indoors to get a bit of a head start.
Where to Plant Jasmine
Ideally, jasmine prefers a warm, sheltered place for the base plant, but the vining varieties can grow quite tall. It can make a beautiful arbor or trellis plant if you have a vining variety, so if you wish to use it that way be prepared for quick growth and regular training of the plant to climb properly. If growing indoors, select a warmer portion of your home with regular sunlight. They also prefer more humid environments to promote blooming, so take that into mind when choosing your location.
When planting, be sure to plant it at the same soil level it was in the nursery pot, as some nurseries may be grafting a specific jasmine variety onto a common jasmine rootstock.
Caring For Jasmine
Overall, jasmine can be relatively simple to care for, but there are some things which you should be mindful of.
Most jasmine varieties prefer full sun to light shade. They do not like full shade locations as those tend to be cooler in temperature.
Almost universally, jasmine prefers well-drained soil. However, different cultivars may like it a bit sandier than others. Clay soils are not recommended without serious amendment to lighten the soil content. Also, jasmine is a somewhat heavy feeder, so be prepared to fertilize regularly. If you want the plant to grow rapidly, offer it a higher nitrogen fertilizer, as that tends to cause an explosion of growth which can be good when trying to establish a vine-covered arbor or a larger shrub. If you want flowers, jasmine likes lots of phosphorous to encourage blossom development. You can use a standard balanced fertilizer if you don’t have one ideally suited to jasminum species.
In winter for zones 9-11, mulch to help keep the roots and base of the plant warm unless it is a grafted plant. If it’s grafted, you can still mulch for root warmth, but leave an indentation in the mulch right around the graft joint so that it is not covered.
Jasmine prefers regular watering, and most cultivars require humidity to properly bloom. This is why it’s quite popular in areas like the southeastern US, and why some varieties have become aggressive to the point of being invasive in areas like Florida. If growing indoors, you may wish to ensure your soil is slightly more moist than if it were outdoors, as the evaporation of the water will help aid in blooming – but make sure it’s not soggy!
Depending on the varietal of jasmine that you have, pruning may need to be aggressive during warm weather, when the plants have an explosion of growth. For instance, if you are growing a vining variety, you will need to regularly train it to trellis and may need to secure the weaker vines to assist it in holding on. Excess vines should be pinched off regularly, and trimming a vine to length may promote division of the vine.
With a shrub, the goal in pruning is to maintain it as the size/shape of shrub that you wish it to be. Some varieties grow much slower than others, so this may not be a difficult task – but others are surprisingly vigorous and may require regular trimming, especially if used for topiaries or other shaped decorative forms. Be mindful to leave enough vine that it provides protection for the base of the plant whenever possible.
Some grow jasminum officinale as a hedge plant. If doing so, focus initially on trying to promote bushy outward growth. When it has reached the size you desire, regularly pinch or trim excess growth to maintain it at that size.
While some varieties of jasmine do set seed, most seed is unreliable and is not guaranteed to germinate. It is easiest to propagate jasmine by taking cuttings about 4-6” in length, applying a coating of root hormone to the cut end, and then placing into a container of potting soil. Some nurseries also offer grafted plants where another jasminum subspecies is grafted onto an officinale root base.
Pests and Diseases
Jasmine has relatively few pests or diseases. Here are the most common and how to handle them.
Generally speaking, the most common pests for jasmine species are root knot nematodes, mealybugs, and whiteflies. Of these, the nematodes are the most problematic as they’re the hardest to eradicate, but application of beneficial nematodes to your plant’s soil should aid in this process. An application of neem oil will handle most other insect issues.
The most common diseases for jasmine are blight, rust, and Fusarium wilt. Prevention of these is far easier than trying to recover a plant that is afflicted, as these are all typically fungal in origin and the soil may be infected. Avoid watering from the top of the plant, and allow for plenty of circulation so that the plant’s leaves and stems remain relatively dry. If you do have a plant affected by any of these, treatment with a fungicide is recommended. If you wish to do so in an organic fashion, you can use a baking soda and water spray.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Why isn’t my jasmine blooming?
A: There are many factors that could slow the flowering process. One of the most common is one that you might not expect: overfertilization. While it can be a heavy feeder, especially the vining types, too much nitrogen in your soil can actually promote more plant growth but less flowering. Giving it some extra phosphorous can help remedy the issue. It can actually be too hot, as well… while jasmine likes warm conditions, high temps in the upper 90’s and above can cause heat stress and slow flowering. Also, some varieties like winter jasmine require a fall “rest period” when it doesn’t flower and needs slightly cooler temperatures. These rests help the plant to prepare for the next floral explosion.
Q: Is there a best fertilizer type for jasmine?
A: It really depends on whether you’re trying to encourage a new plant to grow, or whether you’re trying to coax flowers out of an already-established plant. If it’s to spur growth, a balanced to slightly-higher nitrogen fertilizer will give the plant everything it needs to promote lush green growth. However, for the flowers, you want to opt for a higher phosphorous level. For root growth, you need potassium. So if you have a cutting that you are trying to coerce to take root or a young seedling plant, go for a soil that has higher N and K levels. For already-established plants, try something like a 7-9-5, as that way it is encouraged to flower and to maintain its growth pattern.
Q: Is jasmine rice related to or scented with jasmine?
A: Actually, no! Jasmine rice is completely unrelated. It’s a long-grain white rice that naturally has a jasmine-like subtle fragrance, although with age the dried rice grains will lose their scent. For the best aroma, you’ll want to get jasmine rice as quickly after harvest and drying as possible. It’ll still taste good if it loses that natural scent, though. But although rice isn’t, something that is often scented with jasmine flowers is tea. Green, white, or oolong teas are often jasmine-scented in China, and the process involves placing the flowers with the dried tea in a specially-designed temperature and humidity controlled machine for a few hours.
This sweet, fragrant flower has caught the hearts of people around the globe. Has it caught yours? If so, I hope you’ll experiment with growing your own jasminum in the future!
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