Plant of the Week
Carolina jessamine (Gelsemium sempervirens) is a favorite landscape vine for many gardeners of the south. Belonging to the Loganiaceae family it puts on a spectacular display of masses of fragrant yellow flowers in late winter through early spring. It is also semi-evergreen and it’s a robust grower with no serious diseases or pests. Yet, is not hard to control.
The small, opposite, ovate leaves are widely spaced on wiry reddish stems that climb by twining. It’s native to open woodlands with sandy moist soils in the east and south part of the state, east to Florida and north to Virginia. Although it adapts well to the heavy clays of the rest of the state, it will need some supplemental water the farther west it is grown from its native habitat.
Carolina jessamine flowers most profusely in the full sun, but will also flower in the shade. It will twine on trellises and over supports on fences and walls, and can even be used as a dense groundcover. All parts of the plant are poisonous. Although it is sometimes mistakenly referred to as Carolina “jasmine,” true jasmines belong to the genus Jasminum.
Plant Habit or Use: groundcover vine
Exposure: sun to partial shade
Flower Color: yellow
Blooming Period: spring and fall
Fruit Characteristics: capsule
Height: 10 to 20 feet
Width: 4 to 8 feet
Plant Character: evergreen
Heat Tolerance: high
Water Requirements: low once established
Soil Requirements: adaptable
USDA Hardiness Zone: 6
Other common names: Yellow Jessamine, Jasmine, Carolina Wild Woodbine, Evening Trumpet Flower
David Rodriguez is County Extension Agent-Horticulture, Bexar County. For more information, call the Master Gardener ‘Hotline’ at (210) 467-6575 or visit our County Extension website at http://bexar-tx.tamu.edu, click under Horticulture and Gardening.