How to Plant and Care for Cold-Weather Blooming Winter Jasmine
Winter jasmine (Jasminum nudiflorum) may be just the thing for your cold-weather landscape. This deciduous, mounding or vining shrub displays some delightfully bright yellow flowers before the leaves unfold. It would be great if you plant it where it would spill over a wall, or use it as a covering for a steep slope in your landscape.
Winter jasmine, which grows rapidly and is relatively trouble-free, will grow up to about 4 feet tall and 6-8 feet wide when unsupported. If using it on a trellis, you can expect it to trellis up to about 15 feet. Any plant grown as a climber will only make rapid progress upwards if the stems are trained from the beginning. Otherwise, they flounder about as if they are unaware of where they should go.
You would, however, have to do without the characteristic fragrance of most varieties of jasmine, as the winter jasmine has none.
As a shrub, it grows in a sprawling mound to approximately four feet tall with arching branches and spreads by the trailing branches that root as they move along the ground. As a vine, it will typically grow from 10-15 feet high. Even the green stems are beautiful during the winter months. The bright yellow flowers will bloom in late winter before the leaves.
Not Picky About the Soil
Winter jasmine grows well in well-drained soil in full sun in almost any type of soil (adding some compost always helps). It would also help if the ball of soil and roots are soaked before planting and the ends are turned outwards by scratching at them with your fingertips. If you have an ugly fence that you would like to cover up, winter jasmine is perfect, or it can be used as a ground cover. You might also be able to train it to grow on a trellis.
Sometimes winter jasmine can get somewhat weedy because its stems root at the internodes starting new plants. A little bit of trimming should keep it in check.
Winter jasmine, although it is almost always grown as an embellishment for a structure, is not actually a climbing plant. It is simply a scrambler by nature. When growing in the wild, it will climb right over other bushes without destroying them. Further, each dangling shoot that touches the ground will begin rooting, offering you many new plants, so you can take advantage of this plant all you want.
This hardy variety of jasmine can withstand climates up north as far as USDA growing zone 5 or 6. If you are in zone 5, you would most likely need to plant your jasmine near a building so that it is protected from the wind.
Winter Jasmine Care
- Winter jasmine should be fertilized in the spring after all of the blooms have faded.
- Training is important if you are trying to get your plant to grow vertically, as on a trellis. Tie up stems as they get longer and remove the side shoots while the plant is still young.
- Every few years, the stems will turn brown and flower production will be diminished. At that time, trim your plant just a few inches above the ground immediately after blooming. The stems will be reestablished very quickly, causing the growth to be tighter and less leggy. You will also begin to see more blooms.
- Winter jasmine needs regular moisture, especially in the summer, so place mulch around the root zone in order to conserve moisture and prevent weeds.
Pruning Winter Jasmine
If you need to prune your winter jasmine plants, do it in the spring, immediately after they have bloomed. Because they flower on old wood, pruning them at this time will not cause you to lose any flowers next year. To control their spreading, you may want to prune them several times, although if you do it will mean fewer flowers in the spring.
Fertilizing these plants, although it's not necessary, will help to create bigger plants. I suggest working some compost into the ground around your plants.
Unsupported Plants Can Be Invasive
If you have unsupported winter jasmine plants, they tend to grow as vine-like shrubs and can become invasive because of the stems that develop roots whenever they come in contact with soil. Pruning regularly will keep unsupported plants from spreading into an area in which you don't want them.
If you train your plants to grow up on a support structure as vines, spreading is less problematic. You can avoid contact with the ground by tying the stems to a structure of some sort.
Some gardeners actually appreciate the plant's ability to spread and multiply. Once the plant has rooted, they simply sever the rooted stem away from the main plant, then dig out the baby plants by the roots. Once it has been removed, it is either potted or planted in another area of the landscape.
So, winter jasmine can multiply, present you with beautiful flowers and spread out to fill an area very quickly. Plus, it needs very little care, so what more could you want?
- Lamb, Heather (2003), All That Jasmine, Birds & Blooms Magazine, February/March 2003 (Pages 48-49)
Questions & Answers
© 2018 Mike and Dorothy McKenney