Things to Know About the Night-Blooming Jasmine (Cestrum nocturnum)
The night-blooming jasmine (Cestrum nocturnum) is aptly named because its white-yellow, tubular flowers bloom at night; the flowers close during the day. It belongs to the Solanaceae family, also known as the nightshade or potato family of plants. It is known for its scent and is quite possibly the strongest scented plant in the world. When in bloom, the flowers release a scent of sweet perfume that pervades the area within 300-500 ft of the plant.
It is a sub-tropical plant that was first discovered growing in the West Indies and was quite possibly brought to Europe by Christopher Columbus in the 15th century. It can now be found growing in subtropical regions around the world and even in temperate climates, where the winter temperatures do not fall below -10oC (though it may well lose all the new growth and leaves at such low temperatures). Ideally, it grows outside in USDA zones 9-10.
Other Names for the Night Blooming Jasmine
Cestrum means "a pointed tool," commonly used in art, and nocturnum means "night."
- Lady of the Night
- Night Jasmine
- Night Jessamine
- Night-Blooming Jessamine
- Dama de Noche
- Galan de Noche
- Night Blooming Cestrum
- Night Queen
- Queen of the Night
Facts You Should Know About the Night-Blooming Jasmine
- Cestrum nocturnum can be grown in cooler climates as a house or conservatory plant.
- I'm not saying you will never need to use air fresheners again, but you certainly won't need them when this plant is in flower. However, as gorgeous as its scent may be, you may soon find it to be overpowering in such close quarters.
- They can reach 10-12 feet in height and have a spread of 6 feet in ideal growing conditions. Prune back into shape after flowering.
- Night-blooming jasmines flower up to four times per year, after which, they produce white berries full of seeds.
- If grown as a houseplant, chances are that the flowers will never pollinate, unless you do it by hand with an artist's brush or similar tool. Cestrum nocturnum is self-pollinating and does not need another plant for cross-pollination. Common pollinators include bats and moths.
- All Cestrum nocturnum plants flower at the same time. If yours is in flower, you can be sure that every other one in the neighborhood is in flower at the same time.
Propagating Night-Blooming Jasmine
There are two common methods of propagating Cestrum.
Using Clippings From Pruning
The night-blooming jasmine roots readily in water. Alternatively, you can simply plant the clippings after pruning in a pot of compost and leave it in a sunny spot. Water it on a consistent basis, and you should see new growth appear within weeks. If you live in a cooler climate (I live in the equivalent of a USDA Zone 10), you may want to cover your pot with polythene (polyethylene) to keep the moisture in until you see new shoots appear. This is a sign that propagation was successful.
Using Seeds From the Berries
If you have pollinated your flowers and they produce berries, leave them on the plant until they shrivel up and fall off. Once this happens, push the seeds into the surface of a pot of compost, water well, and keep in a warm place. You may see new shoots within a few weeks. I have to admit that so far, I have been unsuccessful in propagating Cestrum by seed. However, unless you are trying to develop a new cultivar, it's really not worth the effort of seeding when you can easily root the clippings.
General Tips for Growing Night-Blooming Jasmine
- If there is a night-blooming jasmine already growing in your neighborhood, you might like to ask the owner for a cutting. If not, don't worry because you can easily find them at your local nursery or online on sites like Amazon.
- They like sunlight, but not all day. An east or west facing position is fine for them.
- Water well in the summer, but leave them on the dry side in winter.
- Replace their compost every year if grown in pots. Cestrum nocturnum are hungry plants that can soon sap all the nutrients out of the compost.
- Night-blooming jasmine make very good insect repellants, especially for mosquitoes. I think this is more likely to be because their powerful scent attracts moths and bats that feed on smaller insects.