The Q&A Archives: Jasmine

Question: Hello, I just recieved a Jasmine from a family friend. It is extremely fragrant with white flowers and wraps around like a topiary. I dont know how to take care of it, and would like any help I can get. I live in Zone 5 Colorado and have it in doors. Please help if you can. Also any extra info on this plant would help, I.E., family, ETC.

Answer: There are many, many cultivars in the Jasmine group. (Family: Oleaceae. (Division: Magnoliophyta) Origin: India, Iran, widely cultivated in South China.) Most make good houseplants.

This plant is easy to grow in general. Many people from Northern States grow Sambacs successfully and enjoy the fragrance almost year 'round. The good thing for indoor culture is that Jasminum Sambac tolerates both shade and full sun and will bloom most of the year with a proper care. Of course the plant that was exposed to certain conditions for a long time gets used to them, and may get stressed after you change them significantly. For example, the plant that you kept in a shade, may get leaves burnt if you place it directly in full sun. The full-sun plant that was moved in a shade might drop some leaves. However, gradual change should be fine. Also keep in mind that the smaller the plant, the easier it gets adjusted to new conditions. On the other hand, if you are anxious about getting a developed blooming jasmine, it's probably a good idea to purchase a bigget size plant. Of course, in this case you should provide it with lots of light - as close as possible to how it was grown in our natural tropical conditions. If you cant't provide enough light and warm temperatures, the plant might stay in the same size for a very long period, and further flowering may be problematic.

Potting mix. Use only potting soil (not garden soil). Potting mix must be well-drained (you may add perlite to improve drainage characteristics). Never use top soil or garden soil for potting - the roots will rot in it.

Light. All plants need lots of light for blooming, and Sambac is no exception. If you grow it indoors at all times, keep in in a well-lit spot by the window with southern exposure. During warm summer period when temperature is above 50F, it will be a good idea to take your plant outdoors to enjoy sun and fresh air on your balcony or patio. Bright light along with regular fertilization will encourage blooming.

Fertilizer. Be carefull not to over-fertilize - it might kill the plant. It's safe to use lower concentration of fertilizer more frequently, than rare application with a strong solution. Granulated slow-release fertilizer is better for pots than water-soluable. The cooler the temperature - the less fertilizer should be applied.

Watering. Jasminum Sambac requires average watering. That means - do not water if the soil is moist. Maid of Orleans prefers to be more on a dry side. During winter months, reduce watering to once a week or even less frequent.

Humidity. Sambacs are tropical plants and they enjoy high humidity (50-80%). However, if growing them in a greenhouse, don't make it too wet for the plant, and make sure to provide a good air circulation at all times.

Re-potting. Move your plant into a new home (pot) every spring or when plant overgrows the pot. The new pot should be at least 2-3" wider than the old one. If the plant got root-bounded (too dense root ball at the bottom), make a few 1/2" deep cuts accross the sides of the rootball (4-5 cuts from top to bottom) to encourage new root growth, using a sharp knife. Add more fresh potting mix around the rootball and water well. Place the plant in filtered light for 2-3 days after re-potting.

Leaves yellowing = over-watering or over-fertilizing
Leaves' green color pales = under-watering
Leaves dry on edges = under-watering
Buds drop before opening = over-watering
Buds open prematurely = over-watering
Flowers darken = too much heat
No flowers for the whole year = lack of light and/or fertilizer
No new growth for a long time = lack of light and/or fertilizer
Branches become leggy = prune regularly to keep bushy shape or let go to form a vine, providing support
Leaves are too small = lack of food (fertilizer), too much sun
White mold on stems = indicates that you keep plant in dangerously moist conditions, move it in a well-ventilated bright spot to dry.

Best wishes with your jasmine!

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