By Julie Christensen
Looking for a fast growing, low-maintenance plant for your southern garden? The star jasmine might be just the thing. Also known as confederate jasmine, star jasmine is hardy in USDA plant hardiness zones 7B through 10.
Actually, star jasmine is not really jasmine at all, but belongs to the Trachelospermum genus. It’s a bit slow to start, but grows vigorously after the first year. Star jasmine has small, glossy green leaves that are evergreen in warm climates. The fragrant white flowers appear in April through June, depending on your climate.
Star jasmine is a versatile plant. It has a twining habit and becomes a strong vine when tied to a support — it can even make an attractive living fence. Grow it on a front porch or allow it to twine up trees. Use it to cover an eyesore, such as an old shed or fence, or let it tumble down walls and terraces. It will not attach to masonry without additional support.
Star jasmine also grows well as a ground cover. Simply pinch it back to control its growth. Treated this way, the plant will remain 12 to 18 inches high. Alternatively, you can grow it as a houseplant or even in hanging outdoor baskets.
Growing Conditions for Star Jasmine
Star jasmine does best in full sun, although it tolerates partial shade, especially in hot, dry weather. Give houseplants filtered sun, such as behind a curtain, during bright summer months. In the winter, move star jasmine to a bright, sunny window.
Star jasmine isn’t picky about soil. It grows in sand, clay or loam and tolerates both alkaline and acidic soils. It grows best in moderately moist soils, though, so it’s a good idea to dig a little compost or leaf mold into the soil prior to planting. Space the plants 4 feet apart. Keep the soil moist throughout the first growing season as the roots become established. After planting, add two inches of mulch to conserve moisture in dry conditions. Once established, star jasmine tolerates some drought.
Fertilize star jasmine in spring as new growth emerges with an all-purpose fertilizer. Follow package directions carefully. Star jasmine generally won’t need additional fertilizer, unless the plant has light green or yellow leaves, which indicates a nutrient deficiency. Avoid over-fertilizing star jasmine, which will result in vigorous leafy growth with few blooms. Another common cause of limited blooming is a lack of sunlight. If plants don’t bloom after the first year, consider moving them to a sunnier location.
Star jasmine can become invasive, especially in warm, moist conditions. Cut vines back to 18 inches after flowering to control its growth. Prune star jasmine grown as a groundcover throughout the year as it becomes unruly. Pinch back houseplants as needed to control growth.
Star jasmine suffers few disease or pest problems. Small, scale-like growths may look like a disease, but are actually scale, tiny insects that form in colonies on many plants. These insects pierce the stems and leaves to suck out the juices of the plant. In small numbers, they won’t cause harm, but large colonies can stunt or even kill star jasmine. Additionally, scale secretes honeydew, a sticky, clear substance which in turn attracts sooty mold, a black or grey fungus. Treat scale with an insecticidal soap or insecticidal oil when new growth emerges. Plant star jasmine so air circulates freely and thin the plants when they become crowded to prevent fungal diseases. Rabbits and deer sometimes feed on star jasmine, although the plant’s fast growth helps it recover quickly from damage caused by animals.
Almost any variety of star jasmine will thrive, but ‘Madison’ is a hardy plant recommended for zones 7 and 8. For fall foliage, plant ‘Japonicum.’ The white-veined leaves turn bronze in the fall. Another one worth trying is ‘Variegatum.’ This hardy plant has green leaves edged with red.
To learn more about how to grow Star Jasmine successfully, visit the following links:
Plant Jasmine to Scent Up Garden Evenings, from Oregon State University Extension
Star Jasmine (Trachelospermum Jasminoides) from Central Texas Gardener
When she’s not writing about gardening, food and canning, Julie Christensen enjoys spending time in her gardens, which includes perennials, vegetables and fruit trees. She’s written hundreds of gardening articles for the Gardening Channel, Garden Guides and San Francisco Gate, as well as several e-books.