Growing Jasmine

In A Cold Climate

There are many types of jasmine and most of them prefer warm weather.  I love jasmine and refuse to be deterred by cold weather.  When I lived in an apartment I grew a couple of Arabian jasmine (Jasminum sambac) on the windowsill as there was plenty of sun on that side.  Now I’ve moved further north and have a garden, I grow more of them and more varieties too.  But they live outside only in late spring until early autumn, then back down in the basement during winter.

In winter all my tropical plants stay under plant lights, with the timer set from 8 am to 7 pm.  That includes the jasmines.  There is no extra heat provided aside from a furnace that heats the house.  The flower buds that developed while they were outside will still bloom under the lights.  I stop feeding them when they are in the basement to prevent them from growing too lanky.  Plant light isn’t the same as the sun, of course, so they still try to reach up to the lights, but still grow more slowly than they will outside under the summer sun.

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Arabian jasmine in bloom in summer

Two problems with growing jasmine inside are spider mites and root rot.  To get rid of the tiny spider mites requires monitoring, checking the leaves for them before there are too many of them.  When my jasmine were small, I gave them a shower once a month.  Put them in the bathtub and spray them with water both top and bottom of the leaves.  This will provide them with moisture in a dry winter house as well as washing off the mites, if any.  Once the plants get bigger, if I find mites, I spray them with insecticide soap (approved by OMRI for organic gardening use) and mist them with water once in a while.  Too much water will make their roots rot.  I will let the soil dry a little before I water them again.

When spring arrives and nighttime temperatures will stay above 50ºF, I take them outside, let them enjoy real sunlight.  I start feeding them a month before I take them out.  I also prune them at this time; cut out dry, weak, crossed branches or branches that are too long for my liking.  I also remove most of the leaves from the plants, my grandmother’s method.  Jasmine leaves grow in pairs, remove them alternately.  This will encourage them to grow new leaves and flower buds.  Then I feed them monthly while they are outside.

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New leaves sprouted after most of the old leaves were removed
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Plenty of lovely flowers and a sweet fragrance in summer

I let the flowers bloom on the plants if we plan to sit outside in the evening so we can enjoy their fragrance. I pick the flowers and keep them in the house, especially in the bedroom since the fragrance has a calming effect.  I also put them in water to infuse their scent into it.  Cold jasmine water is very soothing for a hot summer day.

With attention and care a jasmine plant will last for a long time.  Some of mine are over 15 years old and still bloom profusely every summer.

 

Maid of Orleans Jasmine

Not Just Fragrant

It’s that time of year again, when our Jasmine blooms profusely.  They perfume the garden in the evening and early morning.  I line them up on the pool deck where they can get full sun and are easy for me to collect the flowers.  The Jasmine “Maid of Orleans” (Jasminum sambac) are the ones that bloom before any other jasmines I grow.  They bloom throughout the year but only sporadically when we keep them inside.  I don’t blame them since they only get to enjoy outside sunshine and heat for a few months out of the year.  But they are nice enough to produce flowers even when they are cooped up in our basement under artificial sunlight.

It’s a Zen moment when picking jasmine flowers.  The fragrance calms your nerves; take a full breath of jasmine and let it out slowly while picking them.  Enlightenment is within reach.  On working days, I’m ready to face a crowded commute to the city again thanks in part to Jasmine and its wonderful effects on me.

Anyway, jasmine is not just good for it’s fragrance.  You can use the flowers as an air freshener, offered as a garland, used in cooking or infused in drinking water and tea.  I float fresh jasmine flowers in water to give the water a wonderful scent that is very soothing and cooling in summer.  I mix the dry ones in tea to make jasmine tea from the mix.

Just keep in mind that you should use only the Maid of Orleans (Jasminum sambac) which may be sold in other names, like Arabian Tea Jasmine, for instance.  This is the only one I know of that can be used in food.  You should also make sure that the flowers weren’t sprayed with pesticide.  You don’t want that in your tea.  Growing jasmine is easy and you’re better off growing your own if you want to consume it too.

They flower profusely in summer.
Beauty up close
A full bowl of fresh picked jasmine
Giving a lift to water in a glass our friend Kim gave us

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