Plant of the month: Winter flowering jasmine
It’s flowering season for the winter jasmine, the perfect excuse to don the gardening gloves and welcome some drops of colour into your winter gardens.
A garden that has been well designed and tended to can be a year-round spectacle. A mixture of perennial and evergreen plants will ensure your garden is always a source of excitement and animation.
Winter flowering jasmine is a reliable, perennial shrub and while it may not flower all year-round, the stems of the winter jasmine remain a vibrant green colour, even out of season.
All jasmine species belong to the olive family, however there are over 200 species of jasmine, in a plethora of shapes, sizes colours and growing seasons. The winter flowering jasmine was introduced to the UK in 1844 by Scottish botanist, Robert Fortune, better known for his involvement in introducing tea crops to India. Fortune brought the shrub back from Shanghai, China where it also garnered the name Yingchun, meaning ‘the flower that welcomes Spring’. The new plant gained widespread popularity, and it wasn’t long before winter flowering jasmine began frequently appearing in gardens across Europe and the US.
While it lacks the sweet, delicate scent normally associated with jasmine plants, winter flowering jasmine will bring some welcome bursts of colour into a garden during the winter months until springtime blooms begin to flower.
In early January, eye-popping, yellow flowers will appear along the plant’s stems. Small but perfectly formed, each flower can expect to grow to around 3-5cm wide.
Image by Yeji Lee (CC by NC-ND 2.0)
Winter jasmine flowers over a period of 6 to 8 weeks and the blooms are known to last right through to March, so while there may be fewer individual flowerheads at any one time compared with other winter flowering plants, the displays can be enjoyed for far longer.
Caring for your winter jasmine
As it’s so simple to care for and requires low maintenance, winter jasmine is a hit with lively and lazy gardeners alike! This plant requires very little pruning, will tolerate almost any well-drained soil type and is not susceptible to any serious diseases or pests.
Here are some important tips to remember when looking after winter flowering jasmine in your garden this year:
- Prune after flowering: The best time to prune your plant is early spring. Pruning too late in the year could mean you remove the branches on which next season’s buds are growing and therefore could prevent any would-be flowers from developing.
- Support your plant: Winter jasmine is ideal as a hanging plant and looks particularly striking cascading over a garden wall or by the side of an entrance door. If you prefer to grow your jasmine vertically, you will need to train the growth. One way of achieving this is to tie the plant to a sturdy structure such as bamboo garden canes or a trellis as it grows. Another way to add support is by growing it alongside another sturdier plant variety. Ivy is a good option as it is equally as versatile with regards to soil types as the jasmine plant. Winter flowering jasmine has fairly thin foliage, therefore planting it with a thick-leaved evergreen shrub can also help the arrangement to look less sparse.
- Keep out of the frost: While winter flowering jasmine will survive in the cold and dark winter weather, but too much exposure to frost can stunt the growth of any flowers on your plant. By growing your winter jasmine in sheltered areas or moving potted plants into a greenhouse or outhouse in harsh frosts will help ensure your flowers achieve full bloom.
Image via gardenofeden
Avoiding an invasion
Winter jasmine is incredibly easy to propagate, great news for novice gardeners or those unfamiliar with the species. However, the trailing branches of a mature winter jasmine will soon start to form new plants if they are left to overgrow and come into contact with moist soil, creating large mounds of scraggly foliage that are untidy and hard to control. Making sure your plant is given a healthy trim each year will help avoid any unwanted overgrowth and keep your garden in shape.