By Laurelynn Martin and Byron Martin
|Jasmine 'Flore Plena'
|Jasmine 'Maid of Orleans'
|Jasmine 'Grand Duke of Tuscany'
Jasmines are highly regarded for their lovely, sweet fragrance. Some Jasmines offer showy flowers and have a prolific blooming habit. They are often considered a flower of love and romance. The genus Jasminum is a group of shrubs and vining plants native to the old world mostly in tropical and mild temperate regions. They bloom freely, and generally, the flowers are either white or yellow with a few cultivars in pink tones. Some make great container plants and bring their sweet fragrance to your home, garden or conservatory. Over the years, we have grown more than a dozen different species and cultivars some of which have made their mark on ornamental horticulture.
The Jasmine Sambac Cultivars
Grown throughout Asia as a major ornamental plant, 'Maid of Orleans' and 'Grand Duke of Tuscany' top the list for being the most sought after jasmines. They make excellent potted plants and carry a sweet fragrance that intensifies at night as well as being prolific in their bloom habit, especially during the warm days of summer.
'Maid of Orleans' also has religious and cultural significance throughout Asia and is one of the best jasmines for a container plant or windowsill growing. It blooms continuously and the more you prune it, the more it flowers. Jasmine water is made from the flowers of 'Maid of Orleans.' Pick the blooms at night and place them in a covered jar of water. By the next morning, the sweetly infused water is waiting for you to start the day.
'Grand Duke of Tuscany' has large double flowers that resemble small carnations, and carry a rich fragrance. It has an upright growth habit and it thrives in the heat of the summer months. One needs to be attentive when watering 'Grand Duke' and 'Maid of Orleans'. Be sure that the potting mix is well drained and that the soil has a dry period between waterings as they do have some susceptibility to root diseases. Clay pots will also help since they provide better soil aeration.
Many vining species of Jasmines are used for color and fragrance. Depending on the variety, the fragrance differs in intensity and duration. One of our favorite varieties that carries a rich, floral sweetness is Azores Jasmine (Jasminum azoricum). It is a strong, vigorous grower that resists root disease and flowers profusely during the long days of the summer and intermittently in the winter.
The Jasminum grandiflora cultivars are also great plants where a fragrant vine is desired. Poet's Jasmine (Jasminum grandiflorum) blooms on an off throughout the year and it grows quickly and has a strong root system - an added benefit for container gardeners.
For those that live in the north, zone 6 and higher, there is Hardy Jasmine (Jasminum officinale). This species, from Asia, needs cold temperatures to induce flowering. Small, white flowers form in clusters during the late spring, summer and fall. It blooms off the previous season's wood. Generally, nighttime temperatures need to be at 40˙F, or lower, for an extended period of time. We grow Hardy Jasmine in Connecticut up against the wall of a building and it has survived with temperatures down to zero. However, it would not survive a Connecticut winter if it were planted out in the open without any protection. The roots would freeze.
One of the most delightful jasmines with intense fragrance, Winter Jasmine (Jasminum polyanthum) blooms profusely during the winter months at a time of year when it is needed most. The flowering cycle begins in the dead of winter and continues into March depending on the nighttime temperatures. Winter Jasmine is another variety that needs a cool period to initiate flowering. Once the blooms of Winter Jasmine appear we can rest assured that spring is right around the corner.