If there is one plant that gardeners should try to make room for on their patch it is the Trachelospermum Jasminoides. This attractive and versatile climbing vine lends itself to a variety of garden situations. The Star Jasmine as it is commonly known, though occasionally referred to as Confederate Jasmine or Trader’s Compass, is a star performer.
The Star Jasmine is a member of the Dogbane family, or Apocynaceae. It originates from South East Asia, but happily makes its home in milder zones all around the world. In some cases it makes itself almost too comfortable and many botanists regard it as an invasive species. Nevertheless, its attractiveness makes it a much admired and sought after plant.
It has glossy, evergreen leaves which often take on an appealing bronze tinge in colder weather. These are arranged in pairs around the stem. The flowering period is short, often no more than a few weeks, but intense. Masses of pretty tubular white flowers are borne on the woody stems. They release a powerful, heady aroma, thus it is a plant widely used plant in perfumery. The scent is as attractive to local wildlife as it is to humans.
The Star Jasmine has a vigorous climbing habit. It can look charming growing over arches and pergolas. It is very useful for covering up eyesores such as ugly fencing and walls. If allowed, it will trail elegantly from large containers. It can also make for excellent ground cover, particularly beneath trees where other plants struggle to thrive. Few plants are so useful.
The vines prefer a neutral soil but will tolerate soil that is either slightly acidic or slightly alkaline. They thrive best on free draining loams. A vine can be planted either in full sun or in partial shade. A little shade shows off the white blooms to their best advantage. During the growing season they will require plenty of watering and an occasional dressing of general purpose fertilizer. They are generally trouble free plants, which are rarely attacked by pests or disease.
The Star Jasmine is classed as a semi-hardy perennial and therefore will not tolerate severe frosts. However, it may survive a general dip in temperature if grown in an accommodating micro-climate. Growing plants against west or southwest facing walls gives some added protection against frosts. Those living in colder climates can still enjoy this pretty and fragrant vine by growing it indoors as a conservatory plant.
Propagation is not difficult. Semi-ripe cuttings can be taken after flowering. Indeed it is always worth taking a few of these each year as insurance against loss of the parent plant to unexpected frosts. Seed can also be collected from the pods. These should be allowed to dry on the plant. The collected seeds, once cleaned, store well ready for sowing next season.
Trachelospermum Jasminoides is a generous plant that performs well in a variety of circumstances. It demands very little care, yet gives great pleasure and joy to those who give it a home in their gardens. It is both a practical and beautiful addition to the garden.