There are few scented plants which conjure up romantic, balmy summer evenings in the same way as jasmine. The diminutive, fragile flowers barely seem capable of producing such potent fragrance, and yet the plant is often smelt long before it is seen.
Despite its poetic association, jasmine is a vigorous climbing plant and will out-compete other shrubs and climbers if given free rein.
For this reason, choosing the site and robust plant neighbours – or at least enough space – is essential.
Star jasmine (Trachelospermum) is not a true jasmine, yet it's still a beautifully fragrant evergreen climber for a sheltered, sunny spot.
Some species, such as the winter flowering Jasminum nudiflorum, do not produce scent, so always check before investing in a new plant.
The same applies when it comes to hardiness, with some species having a cast-iron constitution and others shrivelling in heavy frosts. To get the best from your plant give it plenty of sun, particularly in the evening, so that the scent can be appreciated to the best effect.
The blue passion flower and climbing roses will hold their own alongside jasmine.
Common or Poet’s Jasmine
This variety is the most commonly encountered jasmine in UK gardens. It has heavily scented white flowers against dark green pinnate foliage in summer, and is fully hardy, losing its leaves in winter. It is also a very vigorous grower, often needing cutting back in Spring to keep it in check and produce more blooms.
J.officinale var. affine (also ‘Grandiflorum’), with pink buds and a less rampant nature, is often seen as a better choice where space is limited. ‘Fiona Sunrise’ has bright yellow foliage and ‘Clotted Cream’ has deliciously fragrant creamy blooms.
This jasmine is often seen as a houseplant, growing around a wire hoop. The name is a little misleading as it is actually the buds which are pink, opening into little white flowers.
As so many flowers are produced at once, the effect can be intoxicating, even cloying in a small space, so bear that in mind if growing in a conservatory.
Although often treated as a houseplant, in milder areas it can grow outdoors. In London, it’s everywhere, more so than common jasmine. Well worth a try if you have a sheltered corner.
It is unusual to see a red (or should we say deep pink) jasmine. Appealing as it might seem, the red jasmine is a rampant grower, with small and only slightly scented flowers.
Not unattractive, but it certainly lacks the pizazz of its white relatives, and generous pruning is needed to keep it from going berserk.
(J. x stephanense)
A better choice than red jasmine if you want colour, J. x stephanense is a truly pink jasmine and has a stronger scent.
The new shoots are flushed with creamy yellow and like its parents (common and red jasmine) it is a vigorous grower. It also requires shelter from winter frosts, so a south-facing spot is best.