Valued for the heady fragrance of their 1/2- to 2-inch white, yellow or pink flowers, jasmines (Jasminum spp.) usually are vining plants. Some can climb to 30 feet when planted in the ground, but most don't surpass 3 feet in a container. However, a container jasmine can be moved indoors over the winter in zones where it isn't perennial. Jasmines vary in hardiness from U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 6 through 12, with winter jasmine (Jasminum nudiflorum) and common jasmine (Jasminum officinale) being among the most robust, both perennial in USDA zones 6 through 9.
Choose the Right Jasmine
One of the most popular types for containers is Chinese jasmine (Jasminum polyanthum, USDA zones 8 through 11), because its prolific pink buds burst into white blooms around about Valentine's Day. The more shrubby star jasmine (Jasminum laurifolium var. laurifolium or nitidum, USDA zones 10 through 11) also shines for its easy tolerance of household conditions and ability to sparkle with white "stars" year-round.
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Grow Jasmine Outdoors
- Plant a young jasmine in a 6-inch pot with drainage holes and a trellis or hoop on which the vine can climb.
- Fill that container with rich, slightly acidic and well-drained organic potting soil that contains compost.
- Be careful not to set the plant any deeper than it grew in its previous container.
- During the summer, keep the pot in a sunny and protected site outdoors.
- Water it whenever its soil feels dry 1/2 inch beneath the surface.
- Feed the jasmine every two weeks until the end of autumn with a bloom-booster plant food. For a 1-9-2 organic type, add 4 tablespoons of the concentrate to 1 gallon of water. For a chemical 15-30-15 variety, make that 1 tablespoon of crystals per 1 gallon of water.
Leave Chinese jasmine outdoors as late as possible in the fall -- it requires at least six weeks of 40- to 60-degree Fahrenheit nighttime temperatures to set buds for its late winter flowers. Bring other non-hardy jasmines indoors when temperatures threaten to drop below 45 degrees Fahrenheit.
Move Jasmine Indoors
Once inside, jasmine needs a position in either full or partial sun, preferably on a south-facing windowsill where it receives at least four hours of direct sunlight a day. If none of your windowsills offers that much illumination, place the plant under the center of a grow-light, keeping the bulbs lit for 14 to 16 hours a day. A normal household temperature around 70 degrees suits most jasmines, though they prefer a drop of 15 degrees at night.
Common jasmine is an exception to the rule and should be kept cool -- at 40 to 50 degrees -- all winter to ensure its bloom the next summer.
Feed winter-flowering jasmines or ever-bloomers only once a month during winter, using about 1/6 the amount of plant food they received while outdoors. Don't fertilize summer-blooming types at all during winter but resume feeding them in early spring, using the amount for indoor plants until you move them outside.
A former master gardener with a Bachelor of Arts in writing from Houghton College, Audrey Stallsmith has had three gardening-related mysteries published by WaterBrook Press, a division of Random House. Her articles or photos have also appeared in such publications as Birds & Blooms, Horticulture and Backwoods Home.