Think of fragrant plants, and jasmine is one of the first to come to mind. Yet not all jasmines are fragrant; and despite its common name, the intensely sweet Confederate jasmine is not a true jasmine at all, but a member of the genus Trachelospermum.
Growth habits of jasmines range from vining to vining-shrubby to decidedly shrubby. True vining types climb by twining stems. Vining shrubs do not twine, but rather put out long, slender, lax stems that must be tied into place if the plants are to function as vines. Otherwise, they'll flop over to make green haystacks of foliage. To grow these plants as shrubs, shorten any shoots that become too long. Only one of the species listed here, J. parkeri, is a true shrub; its dwarf size suits it to rock gardens. Most resist deer.
J. angulare. SOUTH AFRICAN JASMINE. Evergreen vining shrub. Zones CS, TS; USDA 9-11. From South Africa. Vigorous grower with stems 1020 ft. long. Rich green leaves are divided into three leaflets. White summer flowers over 1 in. wide are borne in groups of three; some folks detect a subtly sweet scent, others no fragrance at all.
J. floridum. SHOWY JASMINE. Evergreen or semievergreen vining shrub. Zones LS, CS, TS; USDA 8-11. From China. To 5 ft. high. Dark green leaves divided into three (rarely five) small (- to 1-in.-long) leaflets. Clusters of golden yellow, - to -in., scentless flowers bloom primarily from spring into fall.
J. gracillimum. PINWHEEL JASMINE. Evergreen vining shrub. Zones TS; USDA 10-11. From Borneo. Similar to J. multiflorum but with darker green leaves.
J. humile. ITALIAN JASMINE. Evergreen vining shrub. Zones LS, CS, TS; USDA 8-11. From the Mideast, Myanmar, and China. Erect, willowy shoots reach 20 ft., arch to make 10-ft. mound. Light green leaves with three to seven 2-in.-long leaflets. Clusters of -in., fragrant bright yellow flowers all summer. Can be clipped into a hedge. 'Revolutum' has larger flowers (to 1 in. wide) and larger, darker green leaves than the species.
J. laurifolium nitidum (J. nitidum). SHINING JASMINE, ANGELWING JASMINE. Evergreen or semievergreen vine. Zones TS; USDA 10-11. From Admiralty Islands in the southwest Pacific. Requires long, warm growing season to bloom satisfactorily. Not reliably hardy below 25F. Moderate growth to 1020 ft. Undivided, glossy, green leaves to 2 in. long. Very fragrant flowers shaped like 1-in. pinwheels open from purplish buds in late spring and summer. Flowers are white inside, purplish outside, borne in clusters of three. Can be used as ground cover or container plant. Often sold as J. magnificum.
J. leratii. PRIVET-LEAFED JASMINE. Evergreen vine. Zones TS; USDA 10-11. From New Caledonia. To 15 ft., with glossy, dark green leaves to 2 in. long that resemble those of privet (Ligustrum). Slightly fragrant white flowers in spring.
J. magnificum. See J. laurifolium nitidum
J. mesnyi. PRIMROSE JASMINE. Evergreen vining shrub. Zones LS, CS, TS; USDA 8-11. From China. Willowy, arching branches 610 ft. long. Dark green leaves with three lance-shaped, 2- to 3-in. leaflets. Bright lemon-yellow, unscented flowers to 2 in. across are semidouble or double, produced singly rather than in clusters. Main bloom in winter or spring; may flower sporadically at other times. Needs space. Best tied up at desired height and permitted to spill down in waterfall fashion. Use to cover pergola, bank, or large wall; or clip as 3-ft.-high hedge. In any form, may need occasional severe pruning to avoid brush-pile look.
J. multiflorum. DOWNY JASMINE. Evergreen vining shrub. Zones CS, TS; USDA 9-11. From India. Leaves (to 2 in. long) and stems have a downy coating, producing an overall gray-green effect. Clustered white flowers in early spring; not strongly scented.
J. nudiflorum. WINTER JASMINE. Deciduous vining shrub. Zones US, MS, LS, CS; USDA 6-9. From China. If unsupported, reaches 4 ft. or higher and 7 ft. wide; if trained on a trellis or wall, can grow to 15 ft. Slender, willowy green stems stand out in winter landscape. Unscented, bright yellow, 1-in. flowers appear in winter or early spring, before handsome, glossy green, three-leafleted leaves unfurl. Good bank cover; spreads by rooting where stems touch soil. Attractive planted at the top of retaining walls, with branches cascading over side. Can also be trained like J. mesnyi (tie plant at desired height and let branches spill down like a waterfall).
J. officinale. COMMON WHITE JASMINE, POET'S JASMINE. Semievergreen or deciduous vine. Zones LS, CS, TS; USDA 8-11. From Himalayas, Caucasus. To 30 ft. Very fragrant white flowers to 1 in. across; blooms throughout summer and into fall. Rich green leaves have five to nine leaflets, each to 2 in. long.
J. o. affine (J. grandiflorum). SPANISH JASMINE. Zones CS, TS; USDA 9-11. Main difference from basic species is sizethis form climbs only to 15 ft. but bears larger (1-in.) blooms.
J. parkeri. DWARF JASMINE. Evergreen shrub. Zones LS, CS, TS; USDA 8-11. From India. Dwarf, twiggy, tufted shrub to 1 ft. high, 12 ft. wide. Bright green, - to 1-in.-long leaves with three to five tiny leaflets. Small, scentless, yellow flowers borne profusely in spring. Good choice in rock garden or as container plant.
J. polyanthum. PINK JASMINE. Evergreen vine. Zones LS, CS, TS; USDA 8-11. From China. Fast-climbing, strong-growing vine to 20 ft. Bright to dark green leaves are slightly paler on undersides, have five to seven 1- to 3-in.-long leaflets. Highly fragrant, -in. blossoms are white inside, rose colored outside, borne in dense clusters. Blooms in late winter and spring; sporadic flowers rest of year. Can be used as ground cover; sometimes grown in large containers or hanging baskets. 'Variegatum' has leaves with pale yellow margins.
J. primulinum. See J. mesnyi
J. sambac. ARABIAN JASMINE. Evergreen vining shrub. Zones CS, TS; USDA 9-11. Thought to be native to tropical Asia. To 610 ft. Undivided glossy green leaves to 3 in. long. Blooms in summer, bearing clusters of powerfully fragrant, - to 1-in., white flowers. 'Grand Duke of Tuscany' has double blooms. 'Maid of Orleans' has single blossoms and a compact, shrubby form; it is well suited to containers. In Asia, leaves of this species are used in jasmine tea.
J. simplicifolium australiense (J. volubile). WAX JASMINE. Evergreen shrub or vine. Zones LS, CS, TS; USDA 8-11. Native to Australia. To 1015 ft., with glossy, undivided, dark green leaves about 2 in. long. Small, fragrant, white flowers appear intermittently throughout the year. Adapted to sandy and salty soil.
J. x stephanense. Evergreen to deciduous vine. Zones MS, LS, CS, TS; USDA 7-11. To 1520 ft., with dull green foliage. Evergreen in Tropical South, semievergreen to deciduous elsewhere. Leaves may be undivided and about 2 in. long or divided into five 2-in.-long leaflets. Pale pink, -in., fragrant flowers, carried in clusters of five or more, appear in late spring and summer.
Jasmines grow more rapidly in fertile, well-drained soil and bloom more profusely in sunny sites, but all adapt quite well to less-than-perfect conditions. When plants become tangled or untidy, cut them back heavily just before spring growth begins. Pinch and prune as needed throughout the year to control growth.