Try this easy-growing shrub to savor sunny yellow blooms in the heart of winter.
2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited
Want a winter plant that bursts into bloom on frosty January days? Winter jasmine is the shrub you need. This Chinese native boasts more than eye-catching flowers during the garden’s down time. It also offers a low-maintenance nature that thrives in even difficult conditions. If you garden in Zones 6 to 9, set your sights on winter jasmine (Jasminum nudiflorum).
A native of China, winter jasmine first appeared on the English garden scene in 1844, thanks to a British plant collector who spotted the plant in a Shanghai nursery. The plant’s popularity spread quickly, thanks to its carefree nature and outstanding winter show. Today winter jasmine is a staple landscape plant in Southern gardens, brightening dreary January days with yellow blooms.
Winter jasmine starts flowering in January, opening waxy yellow blooms in response to a sunny afternoon. Frosty nights zap flowers, but more open as winter rolls on, culminating in a blizzard of bloom in February. The flower show is not as intense as forsythia, where bare stems magically transform into yellow wands of bloom. With winter jasmine, a sprinkling of blossoms opens steadily through winter, creating a long, lingering display. (Forsythia, on the other hand, typically displays its peak color for 7 to 14 days.) Winter jasmine’s flowers lack fragrance.
First-year stems of winter jasmine are bright green, splashing another daub of color onto winter’s subdued palette. Stems arch and cascade, forming a mound that’s typically 4 feet high and 5 to 7 feet wide. Stems root where they touch soil, which makes winter jasmine an excellent planting choice for a slope or erosion control. Left unchecked, winter jasmine can easily gobble real estate, slowly engulfing soil in amoeba-like fashion.
Winter jasmine is stunning planted atop a wall so stems can dangle. It’s also an ideal choice for creating a barrier hedge. Plants aren’t picky about soil and grow in any light, from full sun to deep shade. But you’ll get best bloom from plants in full sun. Winter jasmine doesn’t have any real enemies—pests and diseases leave it alone, as do deer.
Plants flower on new growth, so tackle pruning in spring after blooms fade. Remove stems as needed to curtail growth or shape the plant. Keep pruning chores to a minimum by placing this beauty where it can sprawl and spread. Avoid planting it in a confined area unless you’re a dedicated pruner. Fertilize winter jasmine after pruning.
Indoors, there’s a white-flowered jasmine that’s frequently sold budded and in bloom during winter months. It’s referred to by different folks as either white, pink or winter jasmine (Jasminum polyanthum). This pretty plant grows outdoors as a landscape plant in Zones 8 to 10, but in frigid areas, you’ll most often see it grown as a houseplant that’s set outside for summer.
Unlike winter jasmine, this pretty winter flower opens blossoms that ooze intense floral perfume. But, like many potted flowers that bloom in winter, this jasmine needs cool temperatures (nights below 60° F) to stage a strong floral show.