Not everything that is called jasmine is botanically a true jasmine. The name jasmine is commonly used for flowering plants that have a scent like jasmine but don’t necessarily belong to the genus Jasminum. Asiatic jasmine (Trachelospermum asiaticum) with its fragrant pale yellow flowers is one of them.
Unlike jasmine shrubs and vines, Asiatic jasmine is a sprawling ground cover—it does not climb much, unlike its close cousin, star jasmine (Trachelospermum jasminoides). The dense evergreen foliage that grows close to the ground makes Asiatic jasmine an ideal cover for bare spots around and underneath shrubs and trees, or for cascading down a wall. That it is also fast-growing adds to its appeal as a ground cover. The only caveat is that Asiatic jasmine is an introduced plant, and because it spreads so vigorously and aggressively, it has the potential to become invasive.
While the original species has small, star-shaped flowers in the spring and summer, not all varieties have fragrant flowers but are instead grown for their stunning foliage.
There are also cultivars that don't spread quite as much, which makes them suitable for growing in hanging baskets or planters.
|Common Name||Asiatic jasmine, Asian star jasmine, dwarf jasmine, small-leaf confederate jasmine|
|Botanical Name||Trachelospermum asiaticum|
|Plant Type||Perennial vine|
|Mature Size||6-10 ft. spread|
|Sun Exposure||Full, partial|
|Soil pH||Acidic to neutral (5.5 to 7.0)|
|Bloom Time||Spring, summer|
|Hardiness Zones||7-9 (USDA)|
|Native Area||Japan, Korea|
Asiatic Jasmine Care
In the American South, you don’t need to look far to find Asiatic jasmine, for good reasons. It requires little maintenance other than an annual pruning. It is drought-tolerant, has no serious pests or diseases, and is salt-tolerant.
If you live in a hot climate, plant Asiatic jasmine in the fall; in moderately warm climates, you can also plant it in the spring.
Planting density depends on your timeline and budget. When planted on 10-inch centers, you’ll have a thick carpet within a year; on 18-inch centers, you might have to wait another year for the plants to fill in. Either way, when grown in suitable conditions, Asiatic jasmine should fill a spot within about two years after planting.
Asiatic jasmine can be grown in full sun and partial shade. In southern or western exposures with hot midday or afternoon sun, it does best in partial shade.
This plant is not finicky about soil conditions and can grow in a wide range of soils as long as there is good drainage. However, it does best in moist soil with a high percentage of organic matter. Alkaline soil above a pH of 8.0 is not suitable as it slows down plant growth and is detrimental to plant health.
Until newly planted Asiatic jasmine are established, the soil needs to be kept consistently moist so they can grow strong roots. Water every three or four days for the first month, and about once a week for another couple of months.
Once the plants are established, they have moderate drought tolerance. Unless there is a dry spell without rain or extreme heat, or if the leaves are wilting, they don’t need watering, which adds to their appeal as a turfgrass alternative.
If you grow Asiatic jasmine for its flowers, regular watering is more important because dry conditions lead to reduced bloom.
Asiatic jasmine in containers needs to be watered at least daily.
Temperature and Humidity
Asiatic jasmine is a tropical plant that thrives in humid conditions and does not like extreme heat or dry desert heat. It is not winter-hardy below USDA zone 7 although it is cold tolerant and remains green even after a hard freeze, which is why it is valued as a turfgrass alternative in warm climates.
Asiatic jasmine isn’t a heavy feeder. Fertilizing it once a year with a complete balanced fertilizer at the beginning of the growing season in the spring is generally sufficient.
Types of Asiatic Jasmine
Plant breeders have developed several varieties of Asiatic jasmine:
- Trachelospermum asiaticum ‘HOSNS’ ‘Snow-N-Summer’ has leaves that start out pink, then gradually turn white and eventually become variegated white and emerald green as they mature. It has fragrant white flowers in the summer. When grown as a ground cover, the plant reaches a height of 18 inches and spreads 3 feet wide. Note that this is a trademarked cultivar and propagation is prohibited.
- Trachelospermum asiaticum ‘Minima’ is a woody, sturdy, drought-tolerant ground cover that forms dense mats of foliage in which weeds don’t have much of a chance, that’s why it is often used as an alternative to turfgrass. It does not require frequent mowing, only once a year. This variety rarely flowers.
- Trachelospermum asiaticum ‘Ogon Nishiki’ is known under several names, including ‘Gold Brocade’, ‘Salsa’, ‘Torafu’, ‘Orido Nishiki’, and multicolor star jasmine. New leaves emerge bright orange and then slowly develop into a kaleidoscope of colors, ranging from dark green to variegated leaves in gold, green, yellow, and white. It has fragrant white flowers in the summer.
- Trachelospermum asiaticum ‘Summer Sunset’ is another variety without flowers but with spectacular foliage in orange, red, yellow, and white that makes it an eye-catching ground cover. With only 6 to 12 inches in height and a 3-foot spread, it is also suitable for container growing.
- Trachelospermum asiaticum ‘Variegatum’ has gray-green variegated foliage and twining vines. It has fragrant ivory-colored flowers in the summer and blooms for an extended period of time.
Asiatic jasmine is a fast and vigorous grower that needs regular pruning, especially to keep it under control when planted along a sidewalk or patio.
Individual plants can be trimmed with sharp pruners and even sheared, which encourages the plant to develop more branches and grow denser foliage. However, if you are growing Asiatic jasmine for its flowers, delay pruning until after the bloom to avoid removing any flower buds. In the spring, before the bloom, only remove diseased or dead branches.
If you are growing Asiatic jasmine as a ground over or as a turf grass alternative, mow it once a year at maximum mower setting, preferably 3 to 4 inches. Freshly sharpened mower blades are essential, otherwise you end up with unattractive jagged vine ends.
Propagating Asiatic Jasmine
With the exception of the trademarked variety ‘Snow-N-Summer’, Asiatic jasmine can be propagated from cuttings.
- Using sharp pruners or a knife, take a 5- to 6-inch cutting from the tip of a green and healthy shoot. Strip the leaves from the bottom half of the cutting and trim the bottom end of the cutting until you see fresh white tissue then dip the end in rooting hormone.
- Fill a 4-inch pot with large drain holes with potting mix. Use a pencil or stick to poke a deep hole in the soil and insert the cutting in the hole. Water it well until the soil is saturated and water comes out of the drain holes.
- Water daily and never let the soil dry out. Indoors, place the pot in a warm location with bright, indirect light. Or, outdoors, keep the pot in a shaded area.
- In about a month, you should see some new growth. Wait another month or so until the new plant has visibly increased in size and has developed several new leaves before transplanting it to a larger container or in garden soil.
If you have a dense carpet of Asiatic jasmine that you want to propagate, you can cut it like sod. Use a shovel to cut a small area, or use a mechanical sod cutter to dig out a larger area. Lay it down in a well-prepared new area free of weeds and water it in well. Keep it well watered for at least a couple of weeks until you see new growth.
Potting and Repotting
Smaller varieties of Asiatic jasmine are suitable for growing in hanging containers, which are usually made of plastic or another lightweight material. Choose a container at least 14 inches wide and make sure it has large drain holes. Hanging baskets lined with coir aren’t a good choice because Asiatic jasmine likes moist soil and coir dries out quickly so it can be difficult to keep up with the watering. Fill the container with potting mix and slowly water it until water comes out of the drain holes.
Asiatic jasmine will fill any container sooner or later so repotting will be necessary when roots emerge from the drain holes, or the plant becomes root-bound. Before the new growing season starts in the spring, check your container plant for these signs and repot it in a larger container, or divide it into smaller sections with pruning shears or a soil knife and plant it in two or more containers of the same size. Water it well after repotting.
Below zone USDA zone 7, Asiatic jasmine can only be grown in containers and must be brought indoors during winter. Providing the right conditions for the plant to survive the winter indoors can be challenging—not only do you need a bright, ideally south-facing window, but the plants also need high humidity, which they’ll have in the bathroom, kitchen, and laundry room. In other rooms with dry heating air, a humidifier or a tray of pebbles with water near the plant is needed. If there is not sufficient natural light, you might have to add fluorescent lighting. Also, Asiatic jasmine likes cooler temperatures at night.
In the fall, before the first frost, bring the plant inside for a few hours every day. Once the temperatures drop below freezing, leave it indoors permanently.
In the spring, after all danger of frost has passed, reverse the process and slowly acclimate the plant to the stronger outdoor light for a few hours every day before moving it to your patio or balcony for the summer.
Common Pests & Plant Diseases
Asiatic jasmine is rarely bothered by serious pests and diseases.
The only disease that you might encounter is leaf spot caused by the fungus Cercospora. It is usually not severe and does not warrant the use of a fungicide. Signs are individual tan or light brown spots with a red-purplish borders on the leaves.
Sooty mold on the plant is a sign that scales or whiteflies have been feeding on the leaves and excreting honeydew, on which sooty mold develops. The treatment consists of controlling these pests by applying horticultural oil.
Is Asiatic jasmine the same as Confederate jasmine?
These are two different plant species that look similar when small. Once they grow, they are quite different though. Confederate jasmine has larger leaves, it grows upright as a vine and a major selling point are its fragrant flowers. Asiatic jasmine is primarily a ground cover that spreads vertically; the flowers are secondary or non-existent.
Does Asiatic jasmine attract snakes?
The plant itself does not attract snakes but because it has such a dense thick growth habit close to the ground, it provides shelter for rodents, birds, lizards, or other foods that snakes like to go after.
Can you walk on Asiatic jasmine?
Although it is a tough ground cover, it is not suitable for high-traffic areas.
Woody Ornamental Production: Jasmine. University of Florida, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.
Gilman, Edward F. Trachelospermum asiaticum. University of Florida, Cooperative Extension Service.