This underused vine is one hardy species

David C. Becker,  – October 5, 2004

Highly fragrant and surprisingly frost-tolerant, Chilean jasmine (Mandevilla laxa) must be one of the most underused vines in Northern California. Its cousins M. ‘Alice du Pont’ and M. splendens ‘Red Riding Hood’ have long been popular, but they’re unreliably hardy here. Chilean jasmine grows in Sunset climate zones 7-9 and 14-17 (all but the mountain areas of Northern California), and although it prefers full sun near the coast (light shade inland), it requires less heat to bloom than other mandevillas.

But what really sets Chilean jasmine apart is the gardenia-like fragrance of its snowy white 2-inch-wide flowers, which appear in summer. Plant a vine near a patio where you can enjoy its perfume on balmy summer evenings.

Chilean jasmine likes well-amended, evenly moist soil. It can reach 15 feet tall; provide a trellis or similar support for it to climb on. Thin or cut back if growth becomes tangled.