Murraya paniculata, or orange jasmine, is a pleasant tropical plant with a sweet smell and flowers that bloom year-round. Though the plant is often grown as a small ornamental tree or a hedge, it also will flourish in pots and containers if well-shaped and cared for.
The orange jasmine derives its name from the fragrance of its small flowers; they give off a sweet smell that resembles orange blossoms and will waft through your house quite nicely. These waxy flowers will show throughout the entire year and are very attractive to bees. They also begin to bloom quite early in the plant’s life.
Though M. paniculata is not actually a citrus plant, it superficially resembles one: its flowers give off a citrus-like smell, and its small red fruits—which attract birds—look like kumquats. These tropical plants need lots of sun to thrive and should be pruned, but they respond well to container gardening and are perfect for any sunny area in your house as long as you give them the proper care. You may also find orange jasmine listed as orange jessamine or chalcas, and it’s one of many jasmine plants that make good houseplants. If you’re looking to cultivate it, make sure the specimen you’re examining is actually M. paniculata.
- Light: This tropical plant loves full sun, though it can tolerate some shade. It's perfect for a sunny windowsill.
- Water: It should be kept moist, but make sure not to saturate its soil. Regular watering is necessary.
- Temperature: High, tropical temperatures. Orange jasmine is not frost-tolerant.
- Soil: Weakly acidic soil is good: for best results, plant in clay soil. Also, make sure the soil drains well. It should be moist, but not damp or soggy.
- Fertilizer: Feed it periodically from the beginning of spring through fall. You can use any fertilizer designed for evergreen shrubs.
M. paniculata can propagate by cuttings or by seed, but it will be easier to plant by stem-tip cuttings. Take a cutting, ideally from part of the jasmine without any flowers, then remove the leaves and place it in a sterile, well-drained, warm rooting medium such as peat or sand. Consider using a rooting hormone to increase the jasmine’s chances of success. The cuttings can be transplanted into a container once rooted where the young plants will begin to grow very quickly.
This fairly vigorous plant will benefit from repotting once it’s begun to outgrow its container, but make sure not to damage its fragile root system in the transplant process. Water the root ball before you repot it, then pull it out with the soil in one piece. Trim away dead material and cut it back, then replant and backfill with soil.
Orange jasmine is just one of lots of varieties of jasmine that can make great houseplants. The most popular is probably J. polyanthum, which is a fragrant vining species that sprouts pink blossoms. However, many other jasmines are widely cultivated, including primrose jasmine (J. primulinum) and common jasmine (J. officinale).
Orange jasmine should definitely be pruned, especially when it’s still young and growing quickly. It can be cut into many shapes, including a small tree or a hedge, but pruning it somehow is crucial to help the plant achieve its best form. Though the jasmine doesn’t have any major disease problems, it is susceptible to several pests, including scale and soil nematodes: keep an eye out and use a good pesticide if necessary. This makes a great decorative container plant if trimmed right and can even be used as a bonsai plant or in a topiary because it responds so well to pruning. As long as you give it the proper care, your jasmine should reward you well. It even has medicinal qualities: the Native Americans traditionally used its leaves to treat illness.