There are few climbing plants valued quite so much as a delightfully fragrant jasmine plant. It was first introduced to Europe in the 18th century, and quickly became a society favorite. After all, its delicately formed clusters of star-shaped flowers often bloom throughout an entire season.
Over time, this ornamental native Asian plant group has diversified into a large genus of deciduous and evergreen shrubs. Most of these have woody stems and a scrambling, twining growth habit. Of course, this beauty’s main attraction is its intense fragrance.
Its history is so extensive that its exact origin is uncertain. What we do know is that this Middle Eastern gem is a member of the Oleaceae (Olive) family, whose popularity continues to grow annually.
If you have the perfectly vacant sunny spot and are looking for that extra special plant, the Jasminum may be just what you are looking for. With it sweetly scented, ornamental flurry of pretty white blooms and selection of temperate to frost-hardy species, there is much to like about this unique plant family. Read on to discover some of the best varieties available, learning how to look after them well and in turn creating a visual spectacle and fragrant feast.
My Top 7 Jasmine Plant Species
Let us start with the most “Common Jasmine”.
I feel this name understates its beauty, as there is nothing common about this climber. In fact, Jasminum officinale is the most renowned of the Jasmine family. It’s full of fragrantly lobed, white, star-shaped flowers throughout summer and autumn.
This plant will grow to an impressive 40 feet in temperate climates. It’s a beautifully graceful, old-fashioned species that performs best when given adequate space. Native to parts of Asia, China and the Himalayas where it enjoys the warm, tropical climate. In fact, it thrives in Sri Lanka, Iran, and Kashmir, where it can be found growing wild amidst the tropical forest habitat.
Jasmine flower oils are used in both aromatherapy and herbal medicine. Their heavy scent and soothing properties have led to a noble reputation, referred to as “Jasminum absolute”: the “King of Oils”.
This is a suitable plant for growing outdoors in areas which are relatively mild. Just make sure to plant it in a sunny, sheltered position. Elsewhere, grow your jasmine plant as a climber in a greenhouse or conservatory. It’s suitable for outside planting in zones 9–11.
There are a couple of special cultivars within this species that you should look at:
- Jasminum officinale f. affine “Argenteovariegatum” – White flowers, and beautiful cream-laced leaves
- Jasminum officinale f. affine “Aureum” – White flowers, and bold yellow leaf markings
Cultivar: Jasminum polyanthum
Commonly known as the “Pink Jasmine”, because of its deep pink-tinged flower buds. The J. polyanthum is an evergreen variety with dark green leaflets and a twining nature. It’s a woody-stemmed specimen native to China and Burma, whose loose, fragrant blooms transform from rosy pink buds to a full-on flower show from summer to wintertime.
In Latin “polyanthum” means “many-flowered”, which fits this example perfectly. It’s hardy in zones 8-11, but is a good choice for growing as a house or conservatory plant in colder regions. When given a hardy structure and sufficient space, its growth is vigorous and its flowers are plentiful.
A species also known as the “Spanish Jasmine”, or “Catalan Jasmine”. It’s native to Southern Asia, the Arabian Peninsula, Northeast Africa and certain regions of China. Additionally, it’s now widely cultivated and naturalised in Latin America and much of the Caribbean. This evergreen has a scrambling habit and large, 12 cm-long deep green grouped leaflets.
Jasminum grandiflorum flowers are indeed “grand”, forming in clusters. Each cluster contains up to 50 white, tubular, star-shaped flowers with a sweet, heady fragrance. Some also have an occasional red-tinge to their white floral form. A frost-tender species withstanding -10 degrees C, suitable to cultivate outdoors in zones 7-10.
The “Winter Jasmine” is a yellow-flowered, winter-blooming, deciduous variety. It has an arching form and dark green leaves, each comprising of three oval leaflets up to 3 cm long. Native to China and blossoming right after winter, its Chinese name is “Yingchun”: “the flower that welcomes Spring”.
True to form, you can expect the solitary, small, yellow star-shaped flowers to appear anytime from November to March, bringing colour to the garden when there is little going on elsewhere.
This is a frost-hardy specimen, perfect to grow trained against a wall or fence. These structures will provide warmth and shelter from inclement seasonal weather and strong winds. As a species, the J. nudiflorum can tolerate a more shaded position than most, growing to a top spread of around 3 metres.
Hard pruning after flowering will keep this deciduous jasmine plant from developing an untidy, straggly appearance. Suitable for outdoor growing in zones 6–9.
This “Arabian jasmine” is an evergreen shrub with twining stems and a scrambling habit. It’s native to a small region in the Himalayas, though now cultivated throughout most of southeastern Asia.
Jasminum sambac is a tender species, preferring tropical temperatures and humidity. That said, however, this elegant, large-flowering species will survive outdoor temperatures down to 1 degree C, if placed in a sheltered position. In less temperate areas, it makes a perfect conservatory plant, reaching a maximum of 4 metres tall and often grown around a hooped cane. Suitable for growing outdoors in zone 10.
Its leaves are deep green, glossy, and simply ovate in shape. These contrast splendidly with large terminal clusters of highly fragrant, waxy, pure white flowers. These wonderful blooms appear in late spring, only opening at dusk and closing again the following morning. Their sweet scent is most fragrant as the sun goes down.
Flowers of this species are used as ingredients for both the perfume industry, and for jasmine tea. Jasminum sambac is the Philippines’ national flower, where is it known as “sampaguita”.
This is a delicate, yellow- flowering jasmine plant native to India and South Western China. It’s an evergreen, bushy shrub with thick stems, and a mature growing height of around 4 metres. Its sunny-yellow, fragrant, tubular flowers grow in clusters on long slender shoots. You’ll see these from early spring, right through the summer until late Autumn, making this a valuable asset to any garden.
Being fully frost hardy, the Jasminum humile species will keep its lovely pinnate leaves throughout the winter months. Just make sure it’s planted in a nice, sheltered spot with a full sun or slight shade. It’s suitable to grow outdoors in zones 7 – 10.
In Latin, “humile” means “low growing”, though I’d recommend this as a perfect climbing plant to train up any focal point or garden structure.
The “Revolution” variety of this Jasminum species has proved amazingly popular. It has large, tubular, upright yellow blooms and a slightly smaller growth habit of 2.5 metres.
This is the last of my special species, but by no means the least. The Jasminum mesnyi has the loveliest yellow, semi-double, primrose-like flowers, hence its common name of “Primrose Jasmine”. It’s a pretty, scrambling evergreen shrub, native to Vietnam and Southern China. As a result, it prefers warmer climates and isn’t fully frost hardy.
Another great and highly fragrant species for indoor growing, with a bushier form than most and a mass of deep green, glossy foliage. The primrose flowers appear through spring and summer, and pruning it will keep it in shape for the following year’s growth.
Overall, it’s a really pretty and unique, yellow-flowering jasmine plant with a growth height of 3 metres and spread of up to a metre wide. Suitable for outdoor growing in zones 9–10.
All of the Jasminum species listed above like to be planted in a soil that is both fertile, and well drained. Those being potted for indoor growing will need a well-structured compost with a little added grit or vermiculite to aid drainage. I always add a small handful of slow-release, granule fertilizer for potted plants: it gives the plant sufficient nutrients until I start to feed it in the growing season.
Training your Plant’s Growth
When growing your jasmine plant up a structure, such as a wall, balcony, pergola or stairway, ensure your have enough support to hold its full growth. You can do this by using threaded hooks with medium-duty garden wire or by using wooden trellis work—it’s really up to you. Just make sure the structure is sturdy enough to hold your climbing plant, and remember to train your new growth as it comes in.
Jasmine enjoys a sunny, sheltered spot, or one with just a little dappled shade. When growing along a bright walkway, or over a pergola, you get the most amazing fragrance at dusk when all of the flowers open. It’s quite simply heavenly!
As for temperature requirements, this depends upon the Jasminum species. Always check which species you have, and whether it is fully frost hardy, or more tender. Tender species will need to be over-wintered indoors.
I’ve made a quick list to use as a reference guide:
Very Hardy Species: Jasminum officinale, Jasminum nudiflorum
Half-Hardy Species: Jasminum fruiticans, Jasminum humble, J. x stephanions, J. beesianum
Tender Species to Grow Indoors: Jasminum rex, Jasminum capense, J. floridum, J. mesnyi, J. odoratissimum, J. polyanthum, J. sambac, J. dichotomum and J. azoricum.
Care and Maintenance Tips
Once you’ve planted your jasmine plant, it’ll need to be watered around once a week until it has settled in. If your is an outdoors specimen, just keep a check on the top inch or so of soil. If you find the soil is dry, this is when you’ll need to water it.
Once your plant has produced flowers, it’ll need to be watered regularly to keep up with the growth. I tend to let the weather do most of the watering for me, only topping up when there is a very hot or dry spell.
Plants growing indoors will dry out quicker than those planted outside. Water these well once a week using the same checking method as above.
Fertilizing a Jasmine Plant
Once the growing season is upon us, regular feeding will ensure better flowers and stronger growth. When buying a suitable plant feed, it’s important to understand the three main plant nutrients, and how each of these benefit your plants.
Jasminum is a family whose green growth can naturally be very vigorous. In this case, I would avoid using fertilizers with high nitrogen levels, as this will promote further foliage growth, sometimes at the cost of the flowers.
Let’s take a look at how each main nutrient, (N P and K), commonly found in commercial fertilizers helps with your plant’s growth.
Nitrogen: the “N” in NPK value of your fertilizer, which promotes leaf growth
Phosphorous: “P” for strong root establishment and growth
Potassium: with a chemical symbol of “K”, it’s used to form fruits and flowers
The amount of each of these main nutrients is written on all fertilizer packets as a ratio.
Fertilizers that have similar ratios of all nutrients are called “balanced feeds” and will aid in all areas of plant growth. Others will have higher levels of potassium for fruit and flower growth, while seaweed- based, high-nitrogen feeds are most suitable for foliage plants such as grasses and fleshy house plants.
How to Choose the Right Fertilizer, at the Right Time for Your Plant
When your plant is in infancy and needs root establishment, feed it with a liquid fertilizer high in Phosphorous (P) and lesser levels of the other nutrients.
When your plant is slow-growing needs a boost for thicker, stronger foliage, choose a fertilizer high in Nitrogen.
For your Jasminum plant which already has adequate bushy foliage, but will benefit from extra nutrients specifically for flowering over the coming months, choose a fertilizer high in potassium (K).
Always read the label on your plant feeds and dilute as per instructions. I would recommend feeding your Jasmine plant every couple of weeks throughout the growing season.
Young plants benefit from having their stems pinched out a couple of inches down from the tips. This promotes thicker foliage and a stronger form.
Prune your jasmine plant after it has flowered. Keep an open framework of main stems, removing any that are crossing, dead, dying or diseased. Then, keep all stems within the size of the structure supporting your plant, cutting off any excess. Remove any further stems that are growing away from your structure, and not towards it. Finally, thin out any wiry, non-productive shoots, and those that make it look untidy.
That’s it: your jasmine plant is now ready for the following year’s growth. Just remember to tie new growth in as it comes, or it can become a real jumbled mess.
Propagating from a Jasmine Plant
You can propagate from your Jasminum species in late summertime, by way of semi-ripe cuttings. During late summer, annual stem growth begins to slow down. Semi-ripe cuttings are thicker and firmer than softwood cuttings, and have a reasonably adequate supply of stored nutrients. This makes them perfect for producing roots, even in poor light conditions.
Possible Plant Problems
When growing your Jasmine outdoors, the most common pests will be Aphids. These are sap-sucking insects which cause distortion of the plant and stunted growth. Should you notice groups of these little “suckers” on the shoots of your plants, then use a suitable spray insecticide which should eradicate the problem.
Mealy Bugs and Red Spider Mites
If you’re growing your jasmine plant indoors, keep a good look out for mealy bugs and red spider mites.
Mealy bugs look much like woolly woodlice: white and waxy. Red spider mites are often present where there is a noticeable mottling on your plant’s foliage. If you’re in any doubt, take a look at the leaves’ undersides and check for the silky web patterns, which is a sure sign.
The best way to get rid of both of these common pests is to spray the affected plants with a suitable insecticide. Before purchasing, always check on the label that the spray treatment deals with that specific group of pests.
The most common fungal infection that can affect a jasmine plant is Powdery Mildew. This shows itself as circular spots—mostly white and grey—which coat the leaf surfaces. In, time this can extend to the stems too. The best form of treatment is to use a suitable fungicide spray over a period of around 3 weeks, until the infection is gone.
Root Knot Nematode
This is more of a problem in hot and humid regions, as this parasitic nematode lives in the soil. Its larvae infects the plant’s roots, causing parasitic root knot galls. The galls drain all essential nutrients from your plant, leaving a weak, lacklustre specimen with yellowing leaves and reduced flowering potential.
Once the roots have been damaged, it is very difficult to treat. I suggest removing and destroying the plant. Once removed, dispose of any remaining plant matter and turn the affected soil over to dry it out in the sun. The nematodes die off when exposed to sunlight.
Jasmine is susceptible to vigorously spreading stem legions. These can quickly cut off nutrient supplies to other parts of your plant, causing entire branches to die off. This is caused by a type of Necrotrophic fungi, which attacks the stems, kills the plant, and lives off the dead plant tissues.
I would suggest using a strong fungicide spray on all affected areas, and cutting off stems that are too badly damaged to recover.
Now that you have all the information on some of the best flowering Jasminum species, you can take your time to decide where best to plant them in your own garden or backyard. Jasmine plants bring many qualities to a garden, along with a whole host of wildlife, so let’s get planting!