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How to grow jasmine

Val Bourne / 18 April 2016

Read our tips for growing jasmine, a fragrant climber that can be grown in pots or against sunny walls. Plus, tips for choosing the best jasmine variety for your garden.

Common white jasmine
Common white jasmine

Jasmine is a member of the Olive family and there are two hundred species found in tropical and temperate parts of Eurasia, Australasia and Oceana. 

Some jasmines are self-supporting climbers and some, usually the less-hardy species from the tropics, are highly fragrant. These need a warm position in order to survive British winters, so those in colder districts may have to grow them in pots or use a conservatory. Some varieties are hardier.

Find out what scented plants to grow in a sunny garden

Where to plant

Jasmines need a fertile, well-drained soil in full or partial sun. They will tolerate some shade.

Find summer-flowering jasmines, which tend to slightly tender, a sheltered spot on a south or south west-facing wall. Water them well in their first growing season.

Winter jasmine is more tolerant of partial shade and will tolerate a south east or north west aspect. However, if you want early winter flowers find it a warmer spot with afternoon sun.

Frost hardy species are fine in an unheated conservatory or a cold greenhouse as long as it’s kept frost-free by a small heater.

Tender species may require a minimum night temperature of 13-15ºC (55-59ºF).

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Growing jasmine in pots

Many jasmines from China and the Himalayas get plenty of summer rainfall so, if you containerise them, you must water them well in summer. However, they also need good winter drainage, so move your pot into a drier position in winter and stand it on pot feet so the water drains away.

Always use John Innes 3 because this is a loam-based compost that holds water and nutrients.

Feed containerised jasmine plants monthly with a high potassium liquid feed (such as tomato fertiliser) during the growing season.

Taking jasmine cuttings

If you have a less than bone-hardy jasmine on a warm wall, do take insurance cuttings because a savage winter may kill it.

Look for new growth that is springy, rather than soft to the touch.

Take a cutting measuring 4- 6 inches and make a cut below one pair of leaves. Remove any flower buds at this stage too.

Strip away the lower leaves and dip into hormone rooting powder, submerging two-thirds of the cutting.

Place several in a small round pot filled with a 50% mixture of coarse sand (or grit) and compost.

Cover with a polythene bag and leave in the shade in a cool position, somewhere frost free. Remove the bag after four weeks or so.

I prefer to pot up in the following spring.

Winter jasmine

Winter jasmine

Jasmine varieties

Truly hardy jasmines

Jasminum nudiflorum - Winter Jasmine
Truly hardy jasmines are not heavily scented, but they often produce their flowers early in the year and Jasminum nudiflorum, commonly known as the Winter jasmine, is an iconic garden plant with bright-yellow flowers held on new olive-green stems. It can flower in midwinter and, if kept clipped and trimmed straight after flowering, it can be used on a bank, or round a door, or it can be trained up an arch using one plant on either side. It won’t climb, but this Chinese plant, introduced in 1844 by Robert Fortune, is one of the best for winter flower and its twiggy presence is highly appreciated by overwintering birds. It picks really well too, lasting for several days in water.

Jasmines for a sheltered, warm position or a cool conservatory

Jasminum officinale f. affine - Common White Jasmine
Known as Poet’s Jasmine too, this strong climber found from the Caucasus to China has been grown in British gardens since the 1500s. The white flowers are deliciously fragrant and it will flower in a west-facing or north-facing conservatory or on a warm wall. Thin out the shoots after flowering and trim lightly to keep this climber in shape. The form affine has larger, white flowers and it used to be sold as ‘Grandiflorum’. Hardy down to -10°C (14°F) 1.5m (5ft) x 1.5m (5ft) Summer flowering.

Jasminum officinale f. affine 'Aureum'
You’ll either love this yellow-leaved form, or hate it. It isn’t as elegant as the green-leaved jasmine. Hardy down to -10°C (14°F) 1.5m (5ft) x 1.5m (5ft) Summer flowering.

Jasminum officinale f. affine 'Clotted Cream’ (syn ‘Devon Cream’)
These cream-coloured jasmine flowers are easier to place than white and the the flowers of ‘Clotted Cream’ are larger too. Hardy down to -10°C (14°F) 1.5m (5ft) x 1.5m (5ft) Summer flowering.

Jasminum officinale f. affine 'Fiona Sunrise’
Arose in Hampshire in 1989, as a sport or side shoot, and it’s the only yellow-leaved jasmine with white flowers.

Jasminum officinale f. affine ’Inverleith’
This is a pink-flowered jasmine with dusky bronzed foliage in spring that fades to green. Named by the Edinburgh Botanic Garden, but this smaller jasmine was discovered in southwestern China.

Jasminum x stephanense
A naturally occurring hybrid between J. beesianum x J. officinale, it was found in China in 1887. The green foliage has a golden tint when young and the fragrant cool-pink flowers emerge from pointed dark-pink buds in midsummer. A vigorous climber, this jasmine needs lots of space to shine. Hardy down to -10°C (14°F) 1.5m (5ft) x 1.5m (5ft) Summer flowering.

Jasminum humile ‘Revolutum' (Himalayan jasmine)
A bushy jasmine shrub, rather than the a climber, with deep-green leaves and slightly fragrant deep-yellow flowers held in clusters of ten or twelve. These flowers are larger too, about an inch in diameter ( 2.5cm). However ‘Revolutum’ is only hardy to -15°C (5°F), so it’s a conservatory plant for most unless you have a really sheltered position. 2m (4-6 ft) Summer flowering.

Jasminum mesneyi (Primrose jasmine)
Most jasmines drop some foliage in winter and they can look a little thin and scruffy, but J. mesneyi is a true evergreen with semi-double bright-yellow flowers. in spring. It can survive on a warm wall in mild districts, but for most this is conservatory plant because it’s only hardy down to - 5°C (23°F).

Jasminium beesianum
A semi-evergreen with delicate pink flowers. Frost hardy, best planted against a sheltered, sunny wall.

Greenhouse only

Jasminum polyanthum
Normally sold as a house plant, so definitely not for garden use, this heavily scented jasmine has white flowers in late spring and early summer. Thin out the shoots of this Chinese climber, introduced in 1891, after it flowers - but don’t shorten them.

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The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated. The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.