Winter Jasmine — Now in Bloom

January 5, 2009 | By | Comments (13)

Winterjasmine People often confuse me with George Clooney, so I know exactly how winter jasmine feels. Just because it’s a shrub with pretty yellow flowers, novice gardeners mistake it for forsythia. Read this absolutely compelling story and you’ll never make that embarrassing mistake again.

How to Distinguish Winter Jasmine from Forsythia

1. Bloom Time — Winter jasmine (Jasminum nudiflorum) blooms earlier. Although unseasonably mild winter weather may coax forsythia (Forsythia x intermedia) into mid-winter bloom, it usually waits until late winter and very early spring — late February through April in most areas. Winter jasmine stays true to its name, blooming in winter. Right now, it’s in full bloom in Alabama, brightening up the fourth straight day of gloomy, rainy weather that makes you wish you were a mushroom.

2. Stem Color — This is the easiest key to recognize. First-year stems of winter jasmine are bright green. They make they shrub appear evergreen in winter, even though it’s leafless then — a nice feature in my view. Forsythia stems are light yellowish brown.

3. Plant Shape — Winter jasmine forms a trailing, cascading mound about 4 feet high and 5 to 7 feet wide. This makes it perfect for spilling over the edge of a wall or covering a bank. The stems root where they touch the ground, so the shrub controls erosion well. Most forsythias, on the other hand, sport upright, arching branches that without some grooming can look like Cher with a super hair-frizz. Forsythias also grow much larger, about 8 to 10 feet high and 10 to 12 feet wide. Weeping forsythia (Forsythia suspensa) resembles winter jasmine in form and is best used the same way, but it gets just as big as other forsythias.

$. Flower Show — Forsythia wins this hands-down. When it’s in full bloom, no shrub on Earth can beat its glorious golden display, which is why every person in America who can grow one has grown one at some point in their life. That doesn’t mean winter jasmine is a slacker, however. It’s just that forsythia blooms all at once and it show lasts about a week. The flowers of winter jasmine open over a period of 6 to 8 weeks, so you get fewer at one time, but a much longer display. The blooms aren’t fragrant, unfortunately, but neither are those of forsythia.

Growing Tips

Winter jasmine is a fast grower that’s easy, easy, easy. It tolerates almost any well-drained soil and suffers no serious disease or insect pests. Cuttings root quickly almost any time of year. It’ll take sun or shade, but flowers more heavily in sun. Like forsythia, it blooms on last year’s growth, so don’t prune it until immediately after it finishes blooming. You can cut it back hard if you need to. Most garden centers in the South sell it (it’s hardy through Zone 6), but if you can’t find it locally, a good mail-order source is Woodlander’s Nursery (www.woodlanders.net).

COMMENTS

  1. Cameron (Defining Your Home Garden)

    Grumpy–
    Great information!
    Another way to tell the difference — deer won’t eat the jasmine flowers, but they may eat the forsythia flowers.
    I wish that I had room for winter jasmine in my fragrance garden. If it’s in bloom in Alabama right now, it will be in bloom up here shortly.
    My winter daphne is blooming now. I have Confederate Jasmine (although we know it’s not really jasmine) in the fragrance garden and Carolina Jasmine on one of corner of my cottage garden fence.
    Thanks,
    Cameron

    January 5, 2009 at 4:42 pm
  2. Helen @ Gardening With Confidence

    I was just noticing ours blooming in Raleigh. I need remember to take my camera to carpool with me and stop on the way back; some great photo ops.

    January 5, 2009 at 8:05 pm
  3. Connie

    I live in Louisville, KY and bought a beautiful jasmine plant last summer. We have had a bad winter and though I planted it near the house as protection, I think it is a goner. Is it possible that it will come back? I have cut it back to about 6 inches from the ground…all was dead wood. Any advice? I really loved this plant.

    March 12, 2009 at 10:03 am
  4. Grumpy Gardener

    Don’t do anything just yet. Give it a chance to sprout some new growth. If you don’t see anything coming up from the base by May, it may be dead, but winter jasmine should be winter hardy in Louisville.

    March 12, 2009 at 3:39 pm
  5. Carrie Bell

    I am looking for a supplier of Winter Jasmine in NE Alabama. Does anyone know one?
    Thanks,
    Carrie Bell

    January 24, 2011 at 7:58 pm
  6. Grumpy Gardener (His Benevolence)

    Carrie,
    You should start seeing it in garden centers when they bring out their spring color.

    January 25, 2011 at 4:23 pm
  7. Dori

    Will winter jasmine survive in central Maryland?

    April 18, 2011 at 4:10 pm
  8. Grumpy Gardener (His Benevolence)

    Dori,
    Yes!

    April 21, 2011 at 2:35 pm
  9. Elsie Juanita Sheffield

    I am going to buy one as soon as Ican. I am planning my winter and early spring garden. I need to know some good winter blubs. thank you juanita Sheffiel. juanita.carter@att.net

    January 21, 2012 at 5:59 pm
  10. G w Allen

    What us gge different e between Italian jasmine and winter jasmine.

    February 12, 2013 at 7:35 am
  11. Steve Bender

    George,

    Italian jasmine (Jasminum humile) is evergreen, blooms in summer, and grows much larger.

    February 18, 2013 at 8:34 am
  12. Jim Davies

    i have a winter jasmine and it flowered last year but this year there apears to be a fruit growing from the old flowers, can they be used?? are they edable??

    March 11, 2013 at 11:19 am
  13. Steve Bender

    Jim,
    I have never seen fruit on a winter jasmine, but if it happened, it would be a small, black berry, not really edible.

    March 14, 2013 at 12:37 pm