How to Care for a Star Jasmine Vine

The care a star jasmine vine (Trachelospermum jasminoides) requires pales in comparison to the appeal it brings to a garden. From spring through summer, its fragrant blooms glow like stars against its twining stems of glossy, deep-green leaves. Plant the woody vine, also known as Confederate jasmine and perennial in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 8 through 11, as a ground cover, or weave it over an arbor or trellis. Given consistently moist, humus-rich, well-drained soil and four to six hours of daily sun, it needs little extra maintenance.

Tip

  • Gardeners in cold-winter climates can grow star jasmine as an annual or in a container brought indoors for the winter.

Warning

  • Star jasmine leaves are toxic if eaten. Plant the vine where it won't endanger small children or plant-nibbling pets.

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Fertilize Sparingly

Fertilize star jasmine only if its leaves turn yellow, and then only in spring. Select a formula intended for trees and shrubs, such as a granulated, 19-8-10 fertilizer with micronutrients. Sprinkle about 1/2 cup of the granules evenly over each 1 square yard of soil around the base of the vine and water well. Fertilizers of different strengths require different application rates; always follow the application instructions of the brand you choose.

Water Less Over Time

The goal in watering star jasmine is to keep the soil evenly moist without being waterlogged. As the roots are getting established, water it two to three times each week. You'll know they're established when the vine begins putting out vigorous new growth. At that point, reduce the water until the plant is managing on rainfall. Overwatering exposes the plant to fungal root rot.

Prune After Flowering

Occasional heavy pruning keeps star jasmine within bounds, when necessary. After the plant finishes flowering in spring, cut all its stems back by two-thirds to side shoots. Heavy pruning stimulates new growth at the base of the vine and along its woody branches.

Do an annual light spring pruning to remove dead, crowded or out-of-control shoots. Spring is also a good time to refasten escaped branches to their supports.

Tip

  • Always prune star jasmine with clean, sharp pruning shears disinfected with rubbing alcohol before and after each cut.

Potential Disease

Star jasmine is not prone to any serious disease problems other than root rot from overwatering or poor drainage. Root rot surfaces as brittle, brown leaves and general weakening. It occurs when a soil-borne fungus kills enough of its roots that the plant can't get enough water to survive. Root rot is incurable; lift and dispose of an infected plant.

Insects Issues

Watch for Japanese beetles, sap-draining scales and nearly invisible, web-spinning spider mites.

  • Japanese beetles arrive in early summer to devour the leaves down to their veins. 
  • Scale insects resemble colonies of tiny barnacles on the stems and leaves. They drain sap and excrete large amounts of clear, sticky waste called honeydew.
  • Spider mites look like tiny, scurrying dots as they ingest the leaves' cellular fluids.

Cultural Insect Controls

Use cultural controls to manage light insect infestations:

  • Early in the morning, when Japanese beetles are lethargic, handpick them from the vine and drown them in a bucket of soapy water.
  • Prune branches with large scale colonies and dispose of them in sealed plastic bags. Disinfect the pruners in rubbing alcohol between cuts so they don't spread eggs or nymphs to other parts of the vine.
  • Spray the jasmine thoroughly every two or three days with a strong blast of hose water to dislodge spider mites; make sure the water hits the undersides of the leaves.

Neem Oil

When cultural controls aren't enough, consider spraying with ready-to-use, organic plant-based neem oil.

Things You'll Need

  • Ready-to-use neem oil spray
  • Protective clothing, including a long-sleeved shirt, long pants, waterproof gloves, safety goggles and a respiratory mask

Step 1

On a clear day when the temperature is expected to remain below 90 degrees Fahrenheit and the humidity below 90 percent, water the jasmine well.

Step 2

Put on the protective clothing, safety goggles and respiratory mask and spray the vine until the oil runs from all its surfaces, including the backs of the leaves.

Step 3

Repeat the treatment every week, or at the label's recommended frequency, until the insects are gone.

Tip

  • To protect bees, spray the vine very early in the morning or after dark, when they aren't pollinating.

Preventing Frost Damage

If a mild frost -- temperatures between 27 and 34 degrees Fahrenheit -- is expected, cover the star jasmine with a bed sheet or other light fabric. Remove the protection before temperatures rise significantly in the morning. Frost damage may result in twig dieback, sparse future flowering or death.

References

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