Sensational Plants: Part 1: Jasmine

BY DREW BENNIE

A well thought out landscape can be a delight to our senses. Interesting growth patterns, different leaf shapes and colorful flowers draw our eyes to them as do the butterflies they attract. Native plants can be added to provide food for birds whose songs catch our ears. Plants can also provide beautiful scents to delight our noses and perfume our gardens. The next series of articles will discuss my favorite plants that provide scent to our landscapes.

The first featured plant is Jasmine.

Many types of Jasmine plants do well in our South Texas gardens. A recent trip to nurseries in the area revealed various types available, many of which were blooming at the time. Confederate Jasmine, also known as Star Jasmine, is a popular variety. It is a vine with small dark green leaves that grows up to about 20’. It requires a trellis, arbor or fence to grow on but will cling to itself once the plant is established. Six hours of sun with some shade is best. It is generally hardy to cold weather, at least the kind we usually have here in South Texas.

In the early springtime, the vine will burst into small, star shaped white flowers that have a wonderful sweet smell. The flowers only last a few weeks and then one has to wait a whole year for it to be repeated. I recommend planting this vine near a door or patio area where you can enjoy it more. You will also want to plant it in more than one location once you catch its beautiful aroma. Several local nurseries had Pink Jasmine, which grows similar to Star Jasmine but is a light pink color. Carolina Jasmine was also available with its yellow flowers.

Night Blooming Jasmine is a bush type of plant that gives off a very strong odor that will perfume the whole neighborhood at night when it blooms. For that reason, it is recommended to plant it at the back of your lot and not near the house. Its scent is best from afar and is almost too strong for some people when close up. The plant grows to about 10 ’ tall with several small trunks that branch and are covered with green foliage. The clusters of small ivory colored flowers look like so many tiny toothpicks in the day and give off no scent. However, at night the tiny flower ends open to release their scent trying to attract a pollinator. Maid of Orleans is one variety that is available locally.

Check with your local nurseryman to see what other varieties of Jasmine are available and suitable for this area.