The Q&A Archives: Caring for Lei Pikake

Question: How to take care of the lei pikake I got at your store in Hawaii?

Answer: Called pikake in Hawaii, Jasminum sambac Grand Duke Of Tuscany (Nyctanthes sambac) is the plant used to flavor the jasmine tea and making perfumes. Jasminum Sambac can be grown both in full sun (forms a nice bushy shrub when pruned) or in shade (tends to grow more like a vine, leaves get bigger and darker). It's also a perfect container plant. Use great amount of organic matter when planting (leaf mold, peat moss, humus, compost), but soil must be well-drained and evenly moist at the same time. Jasmines do not like soggy conditions.

From spring through fall, fertilize monthly with a balanced fertilizer such as 10-10-10. Tie the stems to supports and keep the soil evenly moist through the growing season. Prune after flowering to keep the plants thinned and shaped. Some branches may reach 6 to 8 ft long. Pruning also helps keep an abundance of flowers, since flowers are produce on new wood.

"Grand Duke" is a slow growing Jasmine but grandest of them all, with the largest flowers. Up to 1.5" double flowers look like miniature roses. This tall growing shrub has Gardenia type flowers. The older plants seem to be more fascinating in providing flowers of different shapes and sizes on the same plant at the same time. A flower stays for a long time (few days) and doesn't drop off and in most cases will dry right on the plant. Same sweet fragrance of Maid of Orleans but stronger. This bushy compact plant needs a little more special attention than other Jasmines. Flower is used for tea and religious ceremonies. Requires frequent pruning for denser shape, otherwise becomes leggy. Everbloomer.

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