When is a jasmine not a jasmine?
By Ralph E. Mitchell
Common plant names once again can be confusing and often relate best to how a plant looks at a glance, or even how the flowers smell. Asiatic jasmine is a good example. Not related to a jasmine, Asiatic jasmine is a common and well-loved groundcover that is versatile and even comes in a few color variations. Let’s call this plant Asiatic jasmine, however, as it is easier to say than Trachelospermum asiaticum, its scientific name!
This groundcover is native to parts of Asia including Japan and Korea. Asiatic jasmine does well throughout Florida and even a little northward. The leaves are leathery , dark green in color, and no longer than two-inches in size. One plant can spread to about three-feet wide, but only gets a little over a foot tall. It is often considered a turf alternative and can be used where a lawn will not grow. Although it may be used as a turf substitute, it does not like being walked on too much, so keep it restricted to low traffic areas with designated pathways. In addition to beds and landscape expanses, Asiatic jasmine also performs nicely on partially-shaded berms. While it can be mowed in the spring to neaten it up a bit, it seldom needs much trimming. It is moderately salt tolerant and can take some coastal conditions, but away from direct beach exposure. Its versatility as a groundcover includes full sun to part-shade conditions, moderate drought tolerance once established, hardiness to cold snaps, and its ability to grow well in containers and even hanging baskets.
Asiatic jasmine thrives on neglect and can in fact get out of control and become a little aggressive with too much sun, water and nutrients, so don’t love it too much! Establish a new bed of Asiatic jasmine by placing transplants one and one-half feet apart on center. Although this groundcover will do well in sun or part-shade, part-shade conditions are preferred in our area. Beyond the dark-green original color, there are many cultivars with variegated white, pink, and orange foliage to choose from.
The “jasmine” part of the Asiatic jasmine is its very fragrant, seldom-seen, pin-wheel-like yellow flower – just don’t count on many! This groundcover is readily available at any garden center , but you may have to search on-line for some of the fancier cultivars. Otherwise, it is a Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ recommended groundcover that will become a relatively sustainable plant in your landscape! For more information on all types of groundcovers suitable for our area, please call our Master Gardener volunteers on the Plant Lifeline on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 1 to 4 pm at 764-4340 for gardening help and insight into their role as an Extension volunteer. Don’t forget to visit our other County Plant Clinics in the area. Please check this link for a complete list of site locations, dates and times – http://blogs.ifas.ufl.edu/charlotteco/files/2018/03/Plant-Clinics-Schedule.pdf. Ralph E. Mitchell is the Director/Horticulture Agent for the Charlotte County Extension Service. He can be reached at 941-764-4344 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Asiatic Jasmine (2018) UF/IFAS Gardening Solutions. The University of Florida Extension Service, IFAS.
Gilman, E. F. (1999) Trachelospermum asiaticum. The University of Florida Extension Service, IFAS.
https://mrec.ifas.ufl.edu/rcb/Jasmine/introduction.htm – The Jasmine Project. The University of Florida Extension Service, IFAS.
Scheper, J. (2011) Trachelospermum asiaticum. Floridat.com, Tallahassee, FL
The Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ Guide to Plant Selection & Landscape Design (2010) The University of Florida Extension Services