Jessamine and Jasmine — Two Fine Vines

February 28, 2013 | By | Comments (14)
Carolina jessamine

The golden bells of Carolina jessamine herald spring in the South. Photo by Ralph Anderson.

They’re vines, they’re evergreen, they have fragrant and showy flowers, and their names sound alike. If you have something in your garden you want covered fast, they just might be the ticket — Carolina jessamine and Confederate jasmine.

Carolina Jessamine
Native to the South and the state flower of South Carolina, Carolina jessamine (Gelsemium sempervirens) is commonly seen trained over doorways, bay windows, on walls and fences, and up lamp posts and mailboxes. In the wild, we spot its yellow blooms peeking down at us from tree branches. It climbs by twining its thin, pliable stems around something, so it needs a support. Unlike wisteria and some other vines, however, it won’t crush the structure it’s growing on.

Here in north-central Alabama, jessamine’s golden bells usually appear at the very end of winter, borne in such profusion as to completely hide the small, light-green leaves. ‘Pride of Augusta,’ available from Woodlanders, offers double blooms. ‘Pale Yellow’ bears creamy-yellow flowers. Carolina jessamine grows fast, so don’t buy one bigger than a one-gallon size. It likes sun or light shade and well-drained soil. Trim it in late spring after it finishes flowering. Carolina jessamine is winter-hardy to at least USDA Zone 7 (6B?) and deer won’t eat it. You shouldn’t either.

Confederate Jasmine
Like Carolina jessamine, Confederate jasmine (Trachelosperum jasminoides) isn’t a true jasmine. Native to China, it gets its name from the incredible sweet fragrance of its creamy-white blooms. As with winter daphne, winter honeysuckle, and wisteria, this is one plant you often smell before you see.

Confederate jasmine

Trained on wire into a formal pattern, Confederate jasmine softens this stucco wall. Photo by Ralph Anderson.

Confederate jasmine grows just as fast as Carolina jessamine, has all the same uses, and is cared for the same way. There are two major differences besides the flower color, however. First, Confederate jasmine blooms later, usually in May for us. Second, it isn’t quite as cold-hardy. I’d give it a go up to USDA Zone 7B. If you want to try for 7A, plant a hardier selection called ‘Madison.’

COMMENTS

  1. Donna

    Will the Carolina Jessamine grow and thrive in the panhandle of West Virginia, growing in a container on the deck? The pergola I want to cover is very sturdy, so support won’t be a problem.

    February 28, 2013 at 1:19 pm
  2. cati adamson

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    February 28, 2013 at 6:40 pm
  3. Freda Cameron

    I have both, except I pulled out the yellow because it was climbing my hollies. Both cover obelisks and arbors with vigor and when they decide to go beneath the cedar shakes on our house, I tug the tendrils out–they don’t have suction cups!

    February 28, 2013 at 6:47 pm
  4. Arthur in the Garden!

    I love Carolina Jasmine!

    March 3, 2013 at 12:43 pm
  5. Steve Bender

    Donna,
    That’s right on the edge of its winter hardiness, but a one-gallon plant doesn’t cost much, so it’s worth a shot.

    March 3, 2013 at 1:36 pm
  6. Karen

    We live in central VA zone 7b and have an extensive steep slope that borders on the woods. We are looking for something for erosion control. The slope faces south and gets lots of sun in summer and has fairly sandy, acidic soil. Also lots of deer. I planted vinca minor a few years ago and it never really took hold. Would the Carolina jessamine work? Any other suggestions? Thank you in advance.

    March 4, 2013 at 6:44 am
  7. Kim

    I am looking for something to grow along an area of our fence and create a privacy screen, would the Carolina. Jessamine work for that, and yet not ruin our other shrubs?

    March 5, 2013 at 9:28 pm
  8. Steve Bender

    Karen,

    I think Carolina jessamine would work for you, but I always warn that a hungry deer will eat almost anything.

    Kim,
    I don’t think the jessamine will harm your other shrubs, as long as you remove any vines that climb on them from time to time.

    March 7, 2013 at 10:29 am
  9. Karen

    thanks for the info.

    March 7, 2013 at 10:56 am
  10. Kim

    I have Carolina Jasmine. It has done very well except this year some of the leaves on one of the vines turned a orange yellow color with small dark brown spots. Some of the leaves have also curled up. What is the cause of this and can it be treated?

    March 8, 2013 at 6:26 pm
  11. Janelle

    We are looking for something to grow on a wall behind our home in southern Mississippi. Do you think this is an option that will leave the wall unharmed and cover relatively quickly? We don’t want to risk hurting the wall since it is what surrounds the neighborhood and we would be responsible for any damage!

    March 10, 2013 at 2:22 pm
  12. Steve Bender

    Kim,
    You might have some leaf spot on older leaves, but this is nothing to worry about. Those leaves will soon be replaced by new, healthy foliage.

    March 12, 2013 at 1:20 pm
  13. Steve Bender

    Janelle,
    Either vine should work well for you, as they climb by twining around a support, rather than attaching themselves directly to a wall.

    March 12, 2013 at 1:22 pm
  14. Janelle

    Thanks Steve!

    March 12, 2013 at 7:03 pm