Carolina jessamine – Out of the woods and into the cities
For the past 50 years, Carolina jessamine has been one of our go-to vines for small urban landscapes. More common back in the 80s and 90s, it deserves more widespread planting today.
What you need to know…
• Carolina jessamine (Gelsemium sempervirens) is native to the East Texas Piney Woods eastward clear to the Atlantic Ocean.
• Evergreen, small leaves that are dark, glossy green.
• Flowers in March are bright yellow, tubular (favorite of bees) and extremely fragrant.
• Sun or shade, but grows and blooms better in sun.
• Climbs by twining around its support. On a trellis it remains mannerly, but it can clamber through trees.
• Easily maintained at 10 to 12 ft. tall, making it one of our best small-growing vines for tight urban surroundings.
• Normally winter-hardy north to the Red River and into southern Oklahoma, but it froze this year over much of its adapted zone. That’s the first time most of us have seen that happen in the 50 years that we’ve grown it.
• Most commonly sold in 1-gallon nursery pots and on small wooden stakes.
• When I plant it, I generally leave it on the stake and tilt the plant slightly so that the stake leans against what will become the plant’s support. The vine takes over from there. The stake decays within that first year and can easily be removed.