Gardening: Jasmine: an ideal tropical plant

Jasmine is a vine that grows outside in warmer climates and inside in colder ones. It is easy to propagate and quick growing which makes it an ideal plant for the tropical plant market. The Jasmine that is commonly sold for the home, Jasmine sambac have small white flowers are very fragrant. Given enough light, proper watering and fertilizer and this plant will produce flowers for most of the year.

Other varieties of Jasmine that are not so readily available, may have larger fuller flowers with the color ranging from white to pink. The plentiful flowers of the Jasmine sambac originate between the leaves.

Large outlets tend to stock Jasmine in a 4 inch (10 cm) pot with a few larger specimuns also available. Larger containers often contain a trellis or a type of support that encourages the vine to twine around it making it into a compact plant that is easy to manage. If left on its own, Jasmine will grow into an unruly vine that will intertwine with other plants and objects.

It is best to train the vines onto a support as they grow or place it in a hanging basket where it can climb the basket and cascade over it. If necessary prune back the plant in the spring encouraging it to produce new growth. This plant will also make a good hanging basket.

Repot in the spring when needed. House plants need to be repotted when the rootball starts to push to the top of the pot making watering difficult or the plant needs watered more than once a week. Choose a pot one size larger than the existing one. Placing the plant in a pot larger than necessary will encourage the plant to grow more roots and foliage and less flowers.

Basic potting soil, peatmoss and perlite or vermiculite will suffice if it supplies good drainage. Jasmine like to have moist soil but will not thrive if they sit in cold soil.

If the potting mixture does not contain mineral soil, the plant will be only able to access the nutrients supplied in the form of fertilizer. Jasmine are grown for their flowers so choose a fertilizer that is high in phosphorous, the second number in the three number ratio. Follow the instructions on the package as using too much fertilizer will burn the foliage and kill the plant.

Jasmine plants need bright light, direct or indirect. In most homes it means a south or west window. If possible, place the plant outside on a sunny deck during the summer months when there isn’t a danger of frost.

Plants, like Jasmine that thrive in the buildings are ones that do well in average house temperatures but will keep its flowers for a longer period of time if it is placed in a cooler location.

Jasmine roots easily from cuttings taken from new growth. Remove a section of new growth that contains about 6 leaves. Take off the bottom three leaves and then dip the bottom of the stem in a rooting hormone. Place the stem in a pot of moist, sterilized potting soil. Press the soil down around the stem then cover the top of the pot with a clear plastic bag. Remove the bag or open it to allow excess moisture to evaporate.

Jasmine plants are susceptible to spider mites. Check the underside of the leaves before making a purchase. Always keep new plants away for existing ones for at least a month to avoid the spread of insects.

Linda Tomlinson is a horticulturalist that lives near Rocky Mountain House. She can be reached at your_garden@hotmail.com

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