With more than 200 varieties to choose from, the most difficult part of growing the jasmine plant is deciding which subspecies you like best. Gardeners of all skill levels love jasmine not only for its abundant, aromatic blooms but also for its lush, green foliage and easy care. If you’re looking for a robust evergreen for slopes or groundcover, to disguise an unsightly fence, or to enhance an arbor, jasmine is a perfect choice.
Prepare yourself for the quick-growing nature of the perennial jasmine plant. Common white jasmine, Jasminum officinale, grows 12 to 24 inches a year. Some varieties reach heights of 15 feet, while others have vines that quickly take over a garden. Winter jasmine tends to grow outward more than it grows upward. Although it blooms, its flowers have no scent.
Many types of jasmine are native to warm, humid environments. However, some plants grow well in more diverse climates. Among the many varieties of jasmine, most thrive in USDA zones six through 11, withstanding cool-weather temperatures down to 40 degrees. These plants prefer well-drained soil and they need mulching during the cooler months.
These plants like regular watering, but they develop root rot if you overwater them. Keep the soil slightly moist. Once-a-week drinks usually work well, with more frequent waterings once the plants start to bloom. Water houseplants when the top half-inch of soil is dry to the touch. Group indoor plants or set them in trays filled with pebbles or gravel and just enough water to cover the rocks. This produces higher humidity levels that help jasmine plants thrive.
One of the most important care tactics for jasmine is providing ample light. Most varieties prefer full sun to partial shade. Winter varieties are more tolerant of shady spots, while summer varieties need full sun. Cooler autumn temperatures stimulate flower blooms for both indoor and outdoor plants. Growers say a south or southwest-facing spot is best for most varieties. Indoor plants need at least six hours of direct sun each day, preferably from a south-facing window.
Protecting jasmine plants from the cold is crucial to their growth; they won’t survive a freeze. Growing them in containers makes it easier to bring them inside before winter sets in. If you plan to move them indoors, do so gradually for about a week so they can adjust to less sunlight and a slow-and-steady temperature change. Start by moving the plant indoors after sundown, then slowly increasing the amount of time you keep it indoors each day. Outdoor bed plants need a thick layer of compost to keep them cozy.
Trimming back this rampant grower is another important step in its care. In the winter, remove any diseased or damaged stems. If you’re growing your jasmine plant on a trellis or other structure, trim back rampant vines to keep it neat and tidy or to train it to grow in a specific shape or direction. Pinch off fading blooms so the plant has time to recuperate and prepare for the next flowering season. To propagate new plants, cut off a few healthy stems and stick them into pots filled with potting soil. They’ll soon root and grow.
Once you notice new growth in the spring, nourish your jasmine with an all-purpose fertilizer. When it starts to bloom, feed the plants again with a flowering fertilizer. Inspect your plant regularly for common pests such as whiteflies, aphids, and caterpillars. Control any bugs with neem oil or an organic insecticidal soap spray. Repot container jasmine plants at least every two years.
Just because a plant says “jasmine” doesn’t mean it is a member of the Jasminum genus, which are all safe, non-toxic plants. False jasmine or evening trumpet flower, Gelsemium sempervirens, is a similar-looking plant, but it’s highly toxic. It grows in the wild from Florida to Texas and further north into South Virginia. Star jasmine or confederate jasmine belongs to the Trachelospermum genus. Like those plants in the Jasminum family, it produces fragrant flowers and lovely green foliage.
Unlike most bloomers, winter jasmine varieties add color to a garden during colder seasons. From midwinter to early spring, Jasminum nudiflorum produces bright, lemon-colored flowers that emerge even before its leaves start to unfold. Sometimes, you’ll see the buds as early as January. If you prefer clusters of white flowers, consider Jasminum polyanthum, or pink jasmine. Its prolific blooms emerge from pink buds from late winter to early spring.
Most plant lovers know that adding greenery to our indoor spaces increases oxygen levels and makes us feel better, both mentally and physically. But the jasmine fragrance may take those benefits a step further. One study showed that the scent boosts the effects of a natural chemical, GABA, on nerve cells, which helps us control anxiety, depression, and panic attacks. Another study showed that extracts of the strongly scented Arabian jasmine may provide relief for skin disorders, pain, and inflammation, but the plant offers other possible health benefits as well.