Plant of the Month – October, 2007
At a Glance:
Latin Name: Cestrum parqui
Common Name: Willow-leafed jessamine
Flowers: Soft yellow
Foliage: Large, medium-green
Mature height: 3-5 ft.
Hardiness: Zone 7 south perennial
Exposure: Full sun to light afternoon shade
Water usage: Medium
Sources: Mail order or internet
I received this plant four years ago as a gift from another “plant geek” like myself. The first year, I was amazed by the constant flush of flowers and fast growth rate but, honestly, I didn’t think it had a chance at surviving the year in North Texas.
I was wrong! For the last three years, this plant has reliably sprouted and quickly grown to 4 feet tall. Not only that, other friends are telling me that have had similar luck in their Zone 7 gardens.
Cestrum parqui, commonly called willow-leafed jessamine, is native to Chile. Plants from this part of the world usually can’t handle our heat or cold, but this one does both with ease. And most importantly, it’s beautiful! In spring, this plant emerges with the first warm days and quickly reaches 3 to 4 feet tall. From May through October, large clusters of the five-pointed, golden-yellow flowers are produced along the stems and at their tips. Amazingly, they just seem to keep appearing all summer long. Butterflies flock to this plant, and it makes a wonderful cut flower.
Did I mention it was easy to grow? I’ve had great luck with it in afternoon shade and in full sun. Regular watering and fertilization keep it growing and blooming throughout the season. I have not yet found any pest or disease problems. Cut plants back to 6 to 10 inches after the first hard frost.
The glowing yellow flowers mix equally well with cool blue flowered salvias, or with hotter red and orange flowered perennials.
I have not seen any local nurseries selling this plant, but it is readily available on the internet and through mail-order companies.
To see this plant and many others, visit the Dallas Arboretum at 8525 Garland Rd., Dallas. For more information visit www.dallasarbroetum.org or call (214) 515-6500.
About the author: Jimmy Turner is the Director of Horticulture Research at the Dallas Arboretum. For more plant profiles by Jimmy, subscribe to Neil Sperry’s GARDENS Magazine.