Carolina jessamine, Carolina jasmine (Gelsemium sempervirens)
Quick facts and care essentials
• Zones 8-24, 26-33
• Full sun or partial shade
• Regular watering
• Climbs by: twining
In late winter and early spring, when little else is blooming, Carolina jessamine is covered in brilliant yellow, fragrant, tubular flowers 1 to 1 1/2 inches long. It’s good looking out of bloom too, thanks to its cloak of shiny light green, 1- to 4-inch, oval leaves.
Growing to about 20 feet, this vine twines easily up all kinds of supporting structures, including trellises and chain link fences. Individual stems are long streamers; they can be trimmed back, woven into their support, or left to sway in the breeze from the top of an arbor or pergola.
Carolina jessamine is a carefree plant, little bothered by pests and diseases. It performs well in ordinary soil but grows faster and more luxuriantly in rich, well-amended soil. It grows best in full sun but will tolerate some shade. It can be pruned at any time of the year, though the best time for the job is after the bloom period ends. At this time, thin out tangled stems and superfluous growth, if necessary. Vines have a tendency to become topheavy; you can prune them back severely when this happens.
Note: All parts of Carolina jessamine are toxic if ingested.