Common jasmine (Jasminum officinale) has graced northern Virginia gardens for more than two centuries. As early as 1794, Founding Father Thomas Jefferson noted this vine among the plants in his gardens at Monticello, Virginia. Also known as poet's jasmine or white jasmine, the vine grows in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 7 through 10. Gardens in portions of northern Virginia can successfully overwinter common jasmine outdoors.
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Common jasmine overwinters well as a fragrant houseplant, but winter temperatures limit its use when grown outdoors year-round. Planted in the garden, the vine withstands winter lows in the central and eastern sections of northern Virginia that lie in USDA zone 7. As elevations rise in the western part of the state, winter temperature extremes drop to levels where common jasmine cannot survive outdoors. If you live in those colder areas and you're determined, you might possibly overwinter the plant with heavy winter protection, the plant would not reliably survive the cold.
In summer, common jasmine grows vigorously to fill the garden with intensely fragrant blossoms of white or palest pink. On warm summer evenings, the scent hangs heavy in the air. In mild climates, the evergreen vine can reach up to 30 feet long. Virginia winters are not so kind. In northern Virginia gardens, expect common jasmine to die back significantly each year. Depending on the severity of winter weather, it may be killed back to the ground. As a result, even with its heavy flush of spring growth, it remains shrubby -- although a fragrant, twining srhub.
Clearing Summer's Way
In anticipation of common jasmine's aromatic blossoms, plan a thorough pruning to clear away winter damage and prepare for lush growth. Common jasmine blooms on new wood produced during the current growing season. Heavy pruning in early spring, just as the plant comes out of dormancy, prepares the vine for vigorous new growth and enhances the quantity of blooms. Handheld pruning shears easily handle the job in northern Virginia gardens. Protect yourself with gloves and long sleeves. Sterilize your shears with household disinfectant before and after each cut to protect your jasmine from the spread of disease.
In northern Virginia gardens, give common jasmine a warm, protected, sunny site. The vine tolerates partial shade, but full sun promotes maximum flowering. Common jasmine appreciates high humidity, too. A hospitable site must include excellent drainage. Common jasmine adapts easily, but good drainage is required. Provide generous moisture to well-drained soils throughout the growing season. Disease-resistant, common jasmine has few insect pests. Be ready, though. Its delicate flowers and powerful perfume will generate traffic from Virginia butterflies and hummingbirds.