Dorothy is a Master Gardener, former newspaper reporter, and the author of several books. Michael is a landscape/nature photographer in NM.
Common White Jasmine Is the Most Fragrant
During the 16th century, explorer Vasco da Gama was the first person to sail directly from Europe to India. He had been commissioned by the king of Portugal to find a maritime route to the East. Luckily, he was not only an explorer but also a flower lover and had the foresight to bring some Jasminum officinale (common white jasmine) back to England from India.
Soon after, English gardeners were delighted to have this fragrant flower covering their landscapes. From the very beginning, this flower's claim to fame was its sweet, perfumy smell, which is unmistakable, despite there being over 200 different species of jasmine and not all of them are heavily scented. All species are native to tropical and warm temperate regions of Eurasia, Australasia, and Oceania.
Note: Some other names of the common white jasmine include true jasmine, poet's jasmine, hardy jasmine, and Jessamine.
Starting Jasmine From Seeds
Before you plant jasmine, the first thing you need to decide is which type of jasmine you want to grow. Selecting the right one for your garden or inside your home is important. You will have your choice of jasmine that grows as a climbing vine and others that are shrubs. Some of them have evergreen leaves and some deciduous.
So, do some studying on the various kinds of jasmine that you can grow in your growing zone and choose wisely.
Jasmine will make a gorgeous indoor plant but will drop leaves that could be consumed by a dog or other pet (or even a child). So, if you have children and/or pets, make sure to buy a non-toxic variety.
- If you choose to go the route of planting seeds, you will need to soften them by soaking them in water for a full 24 hours before planting. This should be done indoors at least three months before the date to plant them outdoors (although you can start the seeds inside anytime you wish if you are planning to have an indoor potted plant).
- You can buy some six-pack potting cells or starter trays at any gardening center, and you should buy enough so that you can plant one seed in each cell. First, fill each cell with a potting soil (I always start with Miracle Gro) that has been mixed with peat moss and perlite (2 parts peat moss, 1 part perlite, 1 part potting soil). Soak the mixture with water, then allow the cells to drain. Put only one seed in each cell and cover the seed lightly with soil. In order to retain moisture, cover the cells with plastic wrap.
- To encourage germination, keep the cells at about 70°F and allow them several hours of indirect sunlight each day. You can use a heating pad beneath your cells (or starter tray) if you are unable to keep the temperature warm enough.
- Mist the seeds every day. Don't allow them to dry out, but don't keep them wet. They may be slow to germinate; it could take up to a full month. When it reaches approximately three to four inches in height, you can move it to a planter, but your potting soil needs to be amended to 1 part potting soil, 1 part chipped bark, and 1.5 parts perlite (or garden compost). This mixture is great as your seedling's permanent home in a container. Again, keep the plant moist at all times, but not wet.
- If you are going to plant your jasmine outdoors, you should wait until temperatures reach 70°F during the day and 50°F at night to transplant your seedlings.
Starting Jasmine From Cuttings
Gathering cuttings from jasmine should be done in late summer to early fall when there are no flowers on the plant. Always gather more cuttings than you need because not all of them will be viable.
- Using a pair of sharp scissors, snip off a section of jasmine that is about two to three inches long, cutting it right below a leaf. The angle of the cut should be at about 30-40 degrees.
- Remove the leaves at the bottom of the section to the node.
- Dip the cut end into a rooting hormone and press the cutting into a sterile potting soil. One good combination would be a mixture of peat, perlite, and vermiculite, but never use regular garden soil, as it can be contaminated.
- The cutting should be planted to a depth of about an inch.
- Once you have planted the cutting, use the same care information that was listed above for seeds.
When and How to Fertilize Jasmine
Proper feeding will serve to enhance the heavenly scent of jasmine and allows your plant to produce a profusion of the glorious blooms. So your goal is to provide your plant the nutrients needed for flowering, proper formation of foliage, healthy roots, and resistance to pests and disease.
If you live in a mild climate, the proper time to fertilize jasmine is in the spring or late winter, but your soil (in either your container or outdoor garden) needs to be assessed before deciding on which type of fertilizer to use.
If your jasmine is planted outside in poor soil, it can benefit from nutrients added at the right time. In the spring, either amend your soil using mulch or organic mixtures. You could also use a slow-release granular (or liquid dilution) jasmine plant fertilizer, following the directions provided by the manufacturer.
For jasmine that is planted in a container in rich, organic soil, extra nutrients will rarely be needed, but you can add compost to the top of the container a few times a year, which will serve to keep a healthy amount of organic material in the container.
How and When to Prune Jasmine
When to prune: If you have summer jasmine, it blooms during the summer and early fall. Winter jasmine blooms in late winter and early spring. Pruning should be done immediately after they flower in order to give the vines time to develop growth for the next season of flowering. Pruning them before they bloom will cause you to cut off the buds, and the jasmine won't be able to flower. Pruning will help to prevent a buildup of old wood.
Start pinching out the top half-inch of the stems of your new plants when they begin to show new growth. Do this by squeezing them between your thumb and finger. This pinching, especially during the first two years of growth, will promote more rapid growth, as well as lush foliage. Pinch any lateral stems and the main, upright stem.
How to prune: Start your pruning process by removing any dead, diseased, or damaged stems. Then, remove any tangled stems or older stems that no longer produce flowers. Doing both of these things will keep your vine free of tangles, which will improve the appearance and prevent the spread of disease. You may have to remove a stem in sections if you run across a difficult tangle. Don't try to jerk it free. Remove any stems that appear to be growing away from the supporting structure. The direction of new growth can be controlled by pruning just above a leaf stem that is growing in the direction you want.
If you are growing your jasmine on an arbor or trellis, be sure to shorten stems to keep the vine within the structure. Remember that the most beautiful jasmine blooms are going to appear on vines that have been well cared for.
Problems and Solutions
Yellowing leaves: Plants with yellow leaves might mean it is time to feed your jasmine.
Very few blooms: If your plant is not producing many blooms, but still has lush, leafy growth, you probably have it planted in soil that is low in phosphorus, so choose a jasmine plant fertilizer that has a higher middle number, which will represent the ratio of phosphorus in that formula.
Disease: Fusarium wilt, blight, and rust are the most common diseases of jasmine, mainly affecting leaves and stems. The first step is to isolate the affected plant from others and discard any leaves that may drop in the process. If your jasmine is in a container, remove it and wash the roots, then re-plant it in a clean, sanitized container with fresh soil, which will usually prevent fungal spores from doing any further damage.
If your jasmine is planted outside in the ground, the process is not as easy, as you will need to dig the plant up, wash the roots and replant it in a site that has been amended with the proper soil and nutrients.
Garden pests: If you are facing any insect problems, use neem oil spray as per the instructions provided by the manufacturer.
Fungi: You can combat fungi using a mixture of baking soda and water (or use fungicides).
- Lamb, Heather (Managing Editor), Birds & Blooms Magazine, February/March 2003, Pages 48-49. Reiman Media Group, Inc.
- Brickell, Christopher, and David Joyce (2017), Pruning & Training: What, When and How to Prune, Dorling Kindersley LTD Publishing.
- Phillips, Judith (1995). Plants for Natural Gardens, Museum of New Mexico Press, Santa Fe.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2018 Mike and Dorothy McKenney