In the dregs of winter, early blooming flowers are a welcome harbinger of spring. One of my favorites, winter Jasmine (Jasminum nudiflorum), begins to bloom in January or February with cheery yellow flowers that promise the sun and warmth will return soon. This easy to grow, deer-resistant plant earns its place in any garden for several reasons.
Winter Jasmine Facts
Part of the Olive family, winter Jasmine is a vine-like deciduous shrub that can be trained into various habits depending on need. If you have a steep slope that is hard to mow or need to control erosion, winter Jasmine is an excellent choice for a fast-growing groundcover. Its growth is dense, effectively minimizing and suppressing weeds. The effect of this during bloom is spectacular. Be aware, however, that winter Jasmine roots easily where stems touch the ground. This is excellent if you have a large area to cover, but it may not be the best groundcover for small spaces.
Winter Jasmine also tolerates hard pruning, which keeps the plant in a low, cascading shrub form. Even in the period between leaf drop and blooming, the weeping green stems create striking, architectural interest in the garden. Buds form pink-red and add extra color. When planted in front of rich-colored evergreens, winter Jasmine provides an excellent contrast. As the branches age, they turn brown, so heavy pruning after bloom is recommended to promote dense new growth.
A Winter Flowering Climber
If you don’t have a lot of space, training winter Jasmine onto a trellis is a wonderful way to enjoy the winter blooms. As a climber, winter Jasmine can reach up to 15 feet. Similarly, plant it at the top of a wall and let the vine-like branches cascade down. I have also seen incredible examples of this plant covering a long stretch of fence and cascading over the other side. If you plan to train your jasmine vertically, however, make sure to tie the stems up as it climbs. This is one plant that doesn’t twine.
An Easy to Grow Plant
Another excellent attribute of winter Jasmine is its tolerance of various growing cultures. Though it prefers well-drained soil, it will thrive in a wide range of soil types, including clay. With regards to light, it will take full sun to deep shade. It is also drought-tolerant and deer-resistant. Relatively hardy, winter Jasmine survives down to zone 6. The only thing one might find to complain about it is that the flowers are scentless, but this is a small price to pay for its flowery display during the coldest part of the year.
A few interesting cultivars of winter Jasmine exist, but unfortunately are not widely available in the retail market. ‘Aureum’ has green foliage that turns gold through the summer. ‘Nanum’ is a slow-growing and compact dwarf variety. The leaves of ‘Mystique’ have white margins, while the foliage of ‘Variegatum’ is edged in white, with a gray center.
If you’re looking for more color in your winter garden, give winter Jasmine a try. No matter which growing habit you decide on training, it won’t disappoint.
Val Engel works at Atlantic Gardening Company and can be reached at [email protected]