The common name Jasmine covers a broad array of vines and shrubs that come from all corners of the temperate world. Some of these are true Jasmines, from the Jasminum genus, but there many more Jasmines and Jessamines in different plant families that deserve attention. Most Jasmines that are commonly found in garden centers are covered in this article.
We are fortunate to live in a climate that can host at least some of the Jasmines outdoors through winter, but many of the most fragrant are not tough enough to survive outdoors year round, so should be treated like houseplants and brought indoors in winter.
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- Hardy Jasminums
- Tender Jasminums
- Trachelospermum – Star or Confederate Jasmine
- Other plants commonly called Jasmine
Stephanor Pink Jasmine
A naturally occurring hybrid between J. beesianum and J. officinale originating from China - Pink 1” flowers in summer with a light sweet scent attract hummingbirds. New leaves are creamy gold with pink edges and turn green when fully open. Grows to 12-15’, attaches by twining. Sun-pt shade. Hardy Zone 7, 0-10f
J. floridum – Showy Jasmine
Jasmine humile - Italian Jasmine
Native to western China - Fragrant yellow flowers in May-June with sporadic flowering thru summer attract bees and hummingbirds. Dark glossy green leaves may stay evergreen in mild winters, but fall off below 18f. Growth is more like a rangy shrub than a vine and is best trained like a vine or a climbing rose with long branches tied up to a trellis. Grows to 12-15’ tall, faster with regular water in summer. Sun-pt shade. Hardy Z7, 0-10f.
Jasminum nudiflorum – Winter Jasmine
Yellow flowers have no scent, but BLOOM IN WINTER! Glossy green leaves fall off in autumn leaving bright green branches that burst into bloom in January. Growth is more like a rangy shrub than a vine, but is best treated like a vine with long canes tied to a trellis or obelisk. The variety ‘Mystique’ has variegated cream and green leaves. Grows 10’ x 10’. Sun-pt shade, Hardy Z6, -10-0f.
Jasminum officinale – Poet's Jasmine, Common Jasmine
Native to Himalayas, China, the national flower of Pakistan – Lovely white flowers have a sweet scent that is more intense in evening. Blooms summer thru frost. Green feathery leaves fall off in autumn. Twining green branches grow fast to 12-15’ in 5 years. Likes regular water in summer. Sun to shade, more flowers in sun – Hardy Z7, 0-10f.
We carry the following cultivars:
‘Affine’ – Pink flower buds, white flowers, otherwise very similar to the species.
‘Argenteovariegatum’ – Leaves are green, white and pink and growth is slower – 6’ x 4’ in 5 years. The variegated leaves can burn in hot sun, so best planted with afternoon shade.
‘Fiona’s Sunrise’ – Pink flower buds, white flowers and bright gold leaves that maintain brightness in shady spots. Protect from hot sun and water regularly.
‘Grandiflorum’ – Flowers are larger than the species and occur in clusters of up to twenty.
Jasminum parkeri – Dwarf Jasmine
Native to the Himachal Pradesh province of northeast India – This jasmine is not a vine, but a cute rock garden plant. Small tubular yellow flowers in summer and bright evergreen leaves on a little shrub perfectly suited to a rock garden or container planting. Grows 12” x 18”. Best planted in sun with protection from cold winter winds. Z8
These Jasmines are sadly not hardy enough to live outside year round in Portland. They are hardy to around 20-30f, but don’t look good unless they’re kept above 40f. They are easy to grow in containers though, living outdoors in summer and indoors as house plants in the winter. Check them thoroughly for insects, harmful or otherwise before bringing them indoors in October and treat if necessary. Place them in the brightest spot you have and be careful to keep soil evenly moist – not too much water – over winter.
Jasminum angulare – South African Jasmine
Native to coastal South Africa from Eastern Cape to Natal – One of the few good reasons to leave Portland for warmer climates. White 1 ¼” flowers are sweetly scented, face up so they are not hidden by leaves & bloom in clusters of 3-7 all summer. Leaves are dark and glossy and evergreen. Vining stems twine around supports, eventually reaching 15-18’ x 8’. Plant in sun or part shade and water regularly. Z10
Jasminum nitidum – Angelwing Jasmine
Native to the Admiralty Islands near New Guinea – Flower buds are dark pink, opening to fragrant white flowers in a star shape with very slender petals. Dark green evergreen leaves on a twining vine. Grows 10-15’ x 3-4’, needs sun, neutral to alkaline soil & regular water during summer. Z10
Jasminum polyanthum - Pink Jasmine
Native to China – This is the Jasmine that has both delighted and disappointed so many people. It’s powerfully fragrant pink flowers fill nurseries and Fred Meyers alike in early spring, luring unwitting garden dreamers to make the purchase and pop it in the ground. Disappointment comes when the plant does not survive winter, or when having survived winter and having lost most leaves and many branches, flowers appear sporadically or not at all.
This is not a bad plant. It just should be treated like other tender Jasmines; kept in a pot and wintered indoors, or planted every spring for benefit of glorious flowers. While it is more cold tolerant than other tropical Jasmines (Z9, 20-30f) and may survive a ‘warm’ Portland winter, it is not reliable if left outdoors.
Flowers form on old wood (last year’s growth) so prune after bloom, and expect flowers to appear late in spring.
Grows fast to 12-15’, sun, Z9.
Jasminum sambac – Arabian Jasmine
Native to India – Jasmine tea comes from these flowers as does the oil used in perfumes. White star shape flowers emit amazing fragrance in summer. Leaves are larger and rounder than other Jasmine leaves, but are dark, glossy and evergreen. Grows 6-8’, attaches by twining, Z9.
Asian Star Jasmine
Native to Japan & Korea – Small, creamy yellow star flowers appear in spring and sporadically thru summer. Leaves are dark, glossy and evergreen. Growth is slow and works better as a ground cover than a vine. Grows to 12” tall, 3-4’ wide if allowed to trail along the ground. Sun, Z7
We are fortunate to have access to several cultivars with really interesting and different characteristics.
‘Red Top’ has red new leaves.
‘Shirofu Chirimin’ has tiny leaves that are marbled with pink, white & green and grows to only 3’.
‘Theta’ has small narrow leaves that hang down and make a lovely bamboo-like texture if trained onto a trellis.
Trachelospermum jasminoides Star or Confederate Jasmine
Native to Japan & China – Sweetly fragrant white star flowers cover the plant in June and appear sporadically thru summer into fall. Leaves are glossy dark and evergreen and sometimes turn dark red in winter. Twining growth attaches to trellises and arbors to form a very nice evergreen screen. If allowed to lie on the ground instead of climbing, the plant forms a dense ground cover.
Star Jasmine grows at a moderate pace, 12-18”/year which makes it easy to care for once it has filled the required space. Grown as a vine it can reach 10-12’ tall x 4’ wide. Treated as a ground cover it will grow 18” tall x 5’ wide.
Full sun to bright shade (the north side of a house for example is ok, but not stuck under a dark tunnel of holly trees). Looks fine when exposed to temperatures of 20-25f, may lose leaves at 15f and die if exposed to cooler temperatures. It is usually just fine in Portland.
Cestrum nocturnum – Night blooming Jasmine or Jessamine
Native to the West Indies, from the Solanaceae/Nightshade family. Long narrow tubular yellow-green flowers have a sweet scent that is most powerful on warm summer evenings. This is a tropical evergreen shrub, so keep it in a container and move it indoors in winter. Grown in a pot it will reach 3-4’ tall. Sun, Z10
Gelsemium rankinii – Swamp Jasmine or Jessamine
Native to wet habitats of SE United States, from the Lonaniaceae/Pinkroot family. Bright yellow flowers in April-May and again in fall have no scent, but attract hummingbirds. Plants are usually marked as evergreen, but in Portland winters that is not always the case, and if leaves stay on the plant the may look a tad unsightly in winter. Fast-growing vine to 10-20’ x 8’, sun, Z7 0-10f.
Mandevilla laxa – Chilean Jasmine
Native to Argentina, Apocynaceae/Dogbane family. White 2” trumpet shape flowers with lovely fragrance bloom all summer. Leaves are 2-6” long and deciduous (fall off in winter). Fast-growing vine to 15’. Best in full sun & well-drained soil with neutral pH. Hardy Z7. Temperatures down to 10f will likely kill the woody stems above ground, but roots will survive and the plant will grow back from there.
Murraya paniculata – Orange Jasmine or Jessamine, Satinwood
Native to India & Malaysia, Rutaceae/Citrus family. Waxy white flowers smell like orange blossoms and bloom in summer and dark orange to red berries follow. Leaves are evergreen. This is a shrub that in warm climates grows to 5-10’, but grows in pots in the NW it will stay much smaller. Expect 2-3’ instead. Sun, Z9.
Stephanotis floribunda – Madagascar Jasmine, Bridal Wreath
Native to Madagascar, Asclepiadaceae/Milkweed family. Stephanotis flowers are often part of bridal bouquets, chosen for their tropical trumpet shape waxy flowers that smell delicious and hold up well in arrangements. They grow on an evergreen vine with thick leathery leaves that reaches up to 6’ if kept in a container. Sun, Z10
FACTS: TRUE JASMINE
Family: Oleaceae – Olive Family
Genus: Jasminum (jazz-MIN-um), the Latinized form of Yasmin, the Persian name for the plant.
Origin: 200 species from India, Ethiopia, China, Afghanistan and one from the US. Just a handful are grown for gardens.
Characteristics: Shrubs and vines with white, yellow or pink tubular or trumpet shape, scented or unscented flowers. Leaves are sometimes evergreen, but varieties that are cold tolerant enough to live outdoors in Portland are deciduous.
Foliage is usually green but is sometimes gold or variegated. Some species are cold tolerant enough to survive Portland winters outdoors, others are not. Their individual hardiness is addressed in the main body of the article.
Size: Size varies from 18" shrubs to 25' vines.
Culture: Sun to part shade. Cold tolerant varieties appreciate good soil drainage and vining types need something solid to grow on like a fence, arbor or trellis.
Problems: We wish they were all hardy. Several types of Jasmine are not cold tolerant enough to survive winter in Portland and should be brought indoors from mid-October to mid-May. All Jasminum are prone to aphids & whitefly.
FACTS: STAR JASMINE
Family: Apocynaceae – Milkweed Family
Genus: Trachelospermum (trake-el-oh-SPUR-mum)
Common: Star Jasmine, Confederate Jasmine
Origin: Japan & China
Characteristics: Sweetly fragrant white flowers look like little stars or pinwheels. Leaves are evergreen, usually dark glossy green & sometimes turning maroon during winter.
There are several cultivars with different leaves, some with white and shrimp pink variegation, others with red tips or with a very narrow shape. It seems like the more interesting the leaf, the fewer the flowers since most of the cultivated varieties don't bloom as well as species types. Vines attach by twining.
Size: T. jasminoides can be grown as a vine reaching up to 20', or allowed to stay on the ground making a dense groundcover to 18" tall x 5' wide.
T. asiaticum is better used as a groundcover to 12" tall x 3-4' wide.
The plant can be easily pruned to stay in place, but don't be alarmed when cut stems ooze white sap. This is natural, but could cause skin irritation, so wear gloves if it is a concern.
Culture: Full sun to full shade and moist soil. Plants in sunnier sites will produce more flowers, have denser foliage and more compact branching. They will also require more water to stay moist. Plants growing in shade will have fewer flowers and open growth, but need less water. Hardy Z7, 0-10f.
Problems: No serious pests are typically seen on the plant.