Winter Jasmine Vines

A Choice for Color Early in the Spring Season

Winter jasmine flower.
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Taxonomy and Botany of Winter Jasmine Plants

Plant taxonomy classifies winter jasmine plants as Jasminum nudiflorum. For research purposes, note that Jasminum polyanthum also sometimes bears the common name, "winter jasmine." But that is a different plant (and a fragrant one that many gardeners want to grow). This is just one example of why we use scientific plant names to avoid confusion.

In terms of botany, winter jasmine plants are deciduous perennials.

They are considered vines or viny shrubs and belong to the olive family.

Traits, Origin, Planting Zones for Winter Jasmine Plants

Winter jasmine plants are native to China. They are recommended for USDA plant hardiness zones 6-10.

But, by growing the plant in a spot warmer than the rest of your yard (such as the south side of your house), you can often get by with growing the vine in zone 5. If you do live in zone 5 and want to be on the safe side, build a shelter for the plant to help it through its first couple of winters. After the plant has matured, you will probably be able to leave it unsheltered for the winter. Still, it would not hurt to mulch it with a few inches of straw to give its roots a little insulation for the winter.

Winter jasmine plants reach 4 feet in height with a width of 7 feet when unsupported. Supported, they can reach 15 feet in height. The blooms are yellow in color and 1 inch wide.

Blooming time is in late winter or early spring. The flowers appear prior to the leaves, which are quite tiny.

Unlike most jasmines, this type is not fragrant. The plant's stems stay green in winter.

Sun and Soil Requirements for Winter Jasmine Plants, Uses in Landscaping

You can grow this plant in full sun to partial sun, in well-drained soils.

In fact, it is one of the best perennial vines for sun. A winter jasmine plant mounds up around its base to form a shrub, but it sends out long branches from that central clump that grow as creeping vines. So is it a shrub or a vine? To a large degree, you can control what it becomes, yourself. That is, how you care for the plant determines what form it will take.

If you keep it pruned back, it will act as a shrub in your landscape. But if you leave it alone and allow it to grow naturally, it will function as a vine. In the latter capacity, it can be used either as a ground cover or as a climbing vine.

Gardeners who want it to climb should provide a supporting structure, tying the viny branches to this structure. If you do not want to take the time to build a wooden arbor or use a similar structure on which to train the vines, these early bloomers can still be useful as ground covers. In the latter role, use them for landscaping on slopes, for instance, to control erosion.

Plant Care, Warning About Growing Winter Jasmine Plants

If you are going to prune these plants just once over the course of the year, the ideal time to do so is in spring, right after they have bloomed. They flower on old wood, so, by pruning at this time, you will not lose any flowers for next year.

But if you are going to try to control their spreading, you may want to prune multiple times (even though it means fewer flowers for next spring).

The plants do not need to be fertilized very much, but, if you want them to get especially big for any reason, work some compost into the ground around them.

Unsupported winter jasmine plants grow as viny shrubs and can be somewhat invasive. This is because the stems put out roots wherever they touch the soil. Faithful pruning is required to keep such winter jasmine plants from spreading where they are not welcome.

You do not have to worry so much about this requirement if you are training winter jasmine plants to grow up a support, as vines. By tying their stems to arbors or trellises, you avoid ground-contact for the most part. This cuts down on the chances for rooting.

The fact that the stems root so easily is a double-edged sword. You have just heard the bad side: It means extra work for you, to keep them from spreading. On the good side, it makes it easy for gardeners who actually want the plants to spread and multiply.

After the rooting occurs, simply sever the rooted stem from the main plant, and dig your new baby out by the roots. Then either pot it up or plant it somewhere else more suitable in your landscaping. With its ability to multiply, you can see how this plant could be a good idea for a planting bed, where what you need is something that:

  1. Gives you flowers.
  2. Spreads to fill in an area quickly.
  3. Needs little care.