Starry Wild Jasmine rivals the exotic species with its showy blooms and sweet fragrance

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Jasminum multipartitumJasminum multipartitumThe hardy starry wild jasmine is grown by gardeners all over the world because it is a very rewarding and easy to grow evergreen which is loved for its sweetly scented white flowers and beautiful foliage. Read all about growing it below

The olive or jasmine family (Oleaceae), is represented by about 20 genera and about 448 species of trees, shrubs and climbers from the tropical and temperate regions of the world. The genus name Jasminum comes from the Latinised form of the Persian name "yasmin" and has 200 species of trailing, climbing or erect shrubs, which may be evergreen or deciduous, and which occur mainly in eastern and southern Asia, Malaysia, Australia, Africa and southern Europe. Flower colours range from white to pink and yellow, and although their scent is their biggest attraction, not all jasmines are scented.

There are 10 jasmines indigenous to South Africa, many of which rival the exotic species for showiness and ease of cultivation, but sadly most of our native species have been neglected horticulturally. However, many like the beautiful starry wild jasmine are gaining popularity with gardeners in South Africa, and around the world. Others worthy of garden cultivation include:  Jasminum angulare, J. glaucum, J. breviflorum and J. streptopus.

Jasminum multipartitum has a wide distribution, occurring from the Eastern Cape, through the drier parts of KwaZulu-Natal, Swaziland, and into the Northern provinces, northern Mpumalanga and Gauteng; where it can be found scrambling over other shrubs in bushy scrubland, woodlands, and on rocky slopes.

The hardy starry wild jasmine is a very rewarding evergreen plant which can scramble quickly up to 3m, and occasionally up to 7m. It is a popular climber but is often clipped into a shrub and kept about 1.5m in height. It has very attractive, glossy, dark green foliage which looks good even when the plant is not in bloom, and when it is in bloom this jasmine rivals the exotic species with its showy blooms and sweet fragrance which is especially heady at night.

Anytime from late spring to summer (August to January) pinkish-red buds unfurl into pure white, sweetly-scented, star-shaped flowers with a waxy texture, showing up beautifully against the dark green leaves. The cultivar J. multipartitum ‘Evening Star’ has larger porcelain-white flowers with a rich pink reverse. The flowers are followed by edible, shiny green berries that mature to bluish-black.

The dark, plum-coloured flesh of the fruits is sometimes eaten by humans, but is relished by birds, and the protective screen of leaves and the many intertwined branches and stems provide good platforms for nests. The flowers will also attract various insects to your garden, which in turn will attract many insectivorous birds. Starry wild jasmine is especially attractive to moths and butterflies and is pollinated by Hawk moths. The larvae of the Cambridge Vagrant Butterfly, the Variable Prince Moth, Oleander Hawk Moth, Death's Head Hawk Moth and King Monkey Moth all feed on Jasminum species, and in the wild the plant is often browsed by game.

Uses:

Traditionally this jasmine is used to make herbal tea, something Margaret Roberts recommended. It is also used in pot-pourri, and mystically the dried flowers are placed in sachets as love charms, and also to attract wealth and encourage prophetic dreams.

In the Garden:

This plant is essential for game farms and suburban wildlife gardens. It is also invaluable in scented and cutting gardens. The flowers last well in a vase, and just a few sprigs will infuse an entire room with their sweet fragrance, and any unopened buds will still open after they are picked.

This plant can be clipped into a small shrub or it can be trained to climb up any support like a wooden trellis, and if grown along a fence will make a fine dense hedge. If clipped regularly it makes a great informal hedge or screening plant, and can even be used as a groundcover in large expanses under trees. And, if space is limited it does extremely well as a pot plant.

Cultivation/Propagation:

Although this plant thrives in the warmer regions of South Africa it is remarkably hardy to frost, and once it is established can tolerate temperatures down to -1°C. In frosty regions, plant it in a protected part of the garden, cover for the first couple of years with a frost cloth, and mulch the roots well in winter to prevent them from freezing.

Once established it will withstand drought, but responds well to moderate watering when it is in bloom, and during prolonged dry spells. Do not overwater, as this can cause the death of the plant.

Starry wild jasmine will grow in full sun but does extremely well in semi-shade, and in hot inland gardens try to plant it where the roots are shaded by other shrubs or trees. Also, try to choose a wind protected site or the flowers won't last well.

This jasmine will grow in a variety of soils but likes a well-drained soil that has been enriched with compost. Feed annually in spring with a balanced fertiliser for flowering plants. This plant is quick and easy-to-grow, taking about 3 years to reach maturity.

Pruning is best done after flowering.

It is easy to propagate by seed, layering, runners or suckers, or from semi-hardwood cuttings taken in spring or summer. Cuttings root quickly if a rooting hormone is used, and if the cuttings are placed under mist with bottom heat.

To collect seed, allow fruit to ripen and turn black before removing the fleshy coat. Sow immediately, as the seeds do not store well.  Sowing time is best during spring and summer. 

Problems, Pests & Diseases:

Jasminum multipartitum is not affected by any serious plant diseases if it is planted in well-drained soil. Aphid infestations can result in the formation of plant galls and distorted leaves, but these can easily be spritzed off with soapy water, together with any mealybugs which may be present. Try not to spray this plant as this may kill of moth and butterfly caterpillars feeding on the foliage.

Warning:

Non-poisonous