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Jasmine - Care Guide
Jasimium - Introduction
Different species of jasmine need to be treated, positioned and grown in very different ways. Some are freestanding shrubs of varying ultimate height. Some are vigorous, twining, climbers suitable for outdoor growing and some of these are tender and can only be grown and appreciated in the greenhouse. Some (mainly white flowering forms) are grown for their delicious scent while, others, have floral attributes of their own. With such a wide range of behaviours and hardiness it is easiest to describe them in categories rather than trying to lump them all together.
J. humile ‘Revolutum’, Yellow jasmine, is a semi evergreen shrub of some eventual size. It will eventually grow to 12ft or so with a similar spread. This has however taken 20 or more years here at Burncoose. Some shoots are erect and upright while others are arching and spreading. We have not seen fit to prune our stock plant yet but, if containment was necessary, it would take no harm from a sharp cutback. The large yellow flowers appear in clusters and are scented. Each flower is about an inch across. J. humile differs from ‘Revolutum’ only in having smaller leaves and flowers and the two are easily confused. Both flower first in late spring but carry on flowering right through to early autumn.
J. mesnyi, Primrose jasmine, is a similarly tall growing evergreen shrub with bright yellow single or semi double flowers in spring and summer in small clusters. If this species is placed near a wall or fence it will try to climb up it (with support) over time. So it can be a freestanding or a climbing plant. It is perhaps not as hardy as J. humile and dieback may need to be pruned out after a hard winter.
J. parkeri, by contrast, is a dwarf, dome forming, evergreen shrub from India which grows to only about 12in in height with a similar spread. It is very hardy and needs no pruning whatsoever. It has small yellow flowers in summer followed by greenish white berries. It is a border or rockery plant which develops slowly.
Hardy Climbing Jasmine
J. beesianum has grown with us up against a 6ft wall for 40 years without being any trouble or needing much pruning. It is a twining woody evergreen which is fully or partially deciduous in a cold winter or colder areas. Sometimes it comes into new growth early in the spring and gets nipped back but it is totally hardy. It will get a bit woody and top heavy on wall over time but you can cut it back as hard as you like occasionally and it will reshoot vigorously. The flowers appear from early to late summer and are scented in pinkish-red clusters of tiny flowers.
J. nudiflorum, Winter jasmine, has a slender but erect habit and is easily encouraged with trellis or wire supports to become a good climbing plant. It is deciduous with dark green leaves and solitary bright yellow flowers are produced from the leaf axils before the leaves appear. So this is a winter or early spring flowering species. With us it layers and roots into crevices in the walls and may even seed itself into crevices as well. These can appear in places that you do not necessarily want them. It is a totally hardy plant requiring minimal pruning only to tidy it up in its place against a wall or fence. It grows to about 10ft if left unchecked.
J. officinale affine, Common jasmine, grows as a thick multi stemmed climbing clump up the castle walls at Caerhays where it is supported by wires. It would get taller than the 15ft or so it is currently if we had supports for it. As it is, it gets rather top heavy with too much growth at the top. Thinning this out annually to leave younger and more vigorous new growth shoots can be tedious and we find it easier to chop the plant back entirely to ground level every 10 years or so to let it vigorously regenerate itself. In summer and early autumn this species produces masses of very fragrant pink tinged (in bud) white flowers in upright clusters. There are forms of J. officinale with both golden and silver variegated leaves. ‘Clotted Cream’ is an improved form with fragrant pastel cream flowers and ‘Fiona Sunrise’ has striking yellow foliage in spring which turns lime green in summer and gold in autumn. The new growths are orange.
With us in Cornwall J. officinale is usually evergreen or nearly evergreen. In most of the rest of the country it is more likely to be deciduous.
J. x stephanense is a cross between J. beesianum and J. officinale. As such it has many of the features of both and is generally more deciduous than evergreen. The pale pink flowers appear early in the year and on into mid-summer. If left to its own devices it will grow to about 15ft in height. It requires very little annual pruning other than to tie in new shoots which have perhaps flopped away from the supports.
Tender Climbing Jasmine
J. azoricum is an evergreen twining species which can grow to 10ft or more on a wall in the greenhouse but will probably need to be cut back from time to time to keep it under control. Its fragrant white flowers appear in late summer from terminal cymes. Because it flowers on the new growth pruning will encourage more copious displays of flowers.
J. polyanthum is a similarly vigorous evergreen jasmine which is ever popular and easy to grow in the greenhouse. While we can grow it outside in Cornwall, with occasional wind scorching, it is best appreciated firmly indoors and will grow well (with pruning) in a large container. The flowers appear in late winter or early spring and are strongly fragrant. The flowers are pink in bud opening white in large panicles.
J. sambac, Arabian jasmine, is the most tender of the climbing jasmine which we stock and is also an evergreen twining climber well worth growing for its hugely scented white flowers which fade to pink. These are mainly in mid-summer but, in a frost free greenhouse, you will get odd flowers right through the seasons. We find that this species, above all the others, needs regular monthly feeding with a liquid feed to get the best out of it indoors. Perhaps the most beautiful of all the jasmines if you have conditions to keep it alive and thriving.