jasmine-bush OK, I know that Jasmine is technically a shrub or climber and not strictly a ‘perennial’ but it is a perennial plant like all shrubs, so perhaps you’ll allow me some license on a letter of the alphabet that is decidely low on choice of ‘proper perennials’!

Jasmine (Jasminum) is a genus in the olive family (Oleaceae). It contains around 200 species native to tropical and warm temperate regions. Jasmines are widely cultivated for the characteristic fragrance of their flowers. They can be either deciduous or evergreen, and can be erect, spreading, or climbing in habit. The flowers are typically around 2.5 cm (0.98 in) in diameter, are white or yellow in colour, although in rare instances they can be slightly reddish. The flowers are borne in clusters with a minimum of three flowers, though they can also be solitary on the ends of branchlets. Each flower has about four to nine petals. They are usually very fragrant. The berry fruits of jasmines turn black when ripe.  Of the 200 species, only one is native to Europe, but a number of jasmine species have become naturalized in the Mediterranean area. For example, the so-called Spanish jasmine or Catalonian jasmine (Jasminum grandiflorum) was originally from Iran and south western Asia, and is now naturalized in Spain and Portugal.

Widely cultivated for its flowers, jasmine is enjoyed in the garden, as a house plant, and as cut flowers. The flowers are worn by women in their hair in southern and southeast Asia. The delicate jasmine flower opens only at night and may be plucked in the morning when the tiny petals are tightly closed, then stored in a cool place until night. The petals begin to open between six and eight in the evening, as the temperature lowers.

Symbolically, Jasmine was used to mark the Tunisian revolution of 2011 and the pro democracy protests in China of the same year. Damascus in Syria is called the ‘City of Jasmine’ and in Thailand, jasmine flowers are used as a symbol of motherhood.  Several countries have Jasmine as their national flower. ‘Jasmine’ is also a girls name in some countries.

There are many cultivars of Jasmine – for summer and winter. Jasminum officinale (summer jasmine) is perfect for a sunny, sheltered spot in mild regions of the UK. Trachelospermum jasminoides, also known as ‘Confederate’ or ‘Star Jasmine’ is a sweet-smelling vine with small white flowers. It grows quickly up walls, trellises, fences, and even thrives as ground cover, but It is especially well-suited to be grown indoors.

Trachelospermum jasminoides

Trachelospermum jasminoides

The cheery yellow flowers of Jasminum nudiflorum (winter jasmine) will brighten up even partially shaded and cold sites at a time when little else is in flower. A popular and reliable shrub, introduced from China in 1844, and widely grown as a wall shrub, it can be allowed to scramble freely over a low wall or up a bank, or trained up a vertical framework. Unlike many other jasmines, winter jasmine does not twine, so will need tying-in if grown vertically. The stems are bright green and give an evergreen impression, even in winter when the tiny bright yellow blooms appear, weatherproof in all but the coldest snaps. Regular pruning keeps bushes under control and prevents bare patches from appearing. The Royal Horticultural Society has given it the Award of Garden Merit (AGM).

 

All jasmines need a fertile, well-drained soil in full or partial sun. Summer jasmine needs a sheltered spot, full sun and a south- or south west-facing aspect. Winter jasmine is more tolerant of partial shade and a south east or north west aspect. North and north east aspects are best avoided. Frost hardy species are fine in an unheated conservatory or a cold greenhouse kept frost-free with a small heater. Tender species may require a minimum night temperature of 13-15ºC (55-59ºF). Jasmines make lovely container specimens. Ensure you use a container with good drainage holes, cover the holes with crocks or grit, and fill with John Innes No 2 compost. Leave space at the top for watering, and place the pot in bright but filtered light.

Jasmine plant care is not difficult but does require vigilance.Well worth it to have that wonderful evening fragrance in the summer or some brightness in the dark winter months!

 

Sources and further information:

Wikipedia

Beginners guide to Jasmine

Royal Horticultural Society – growing Jasmine

How to grow Jasmine

Pruning Star Jasmine

Growing Jasmine indoors

Trachelospermum – RHS

Old School Gardener

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