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5 September 2014

Trachelospermum Jasminoides - for a Sunny, Sheltered Wall

A lovely climber for a sheltered, sunny position is the evergreen shrub Trachelospermum Jasminoides, which is also known as Chinese Ivy, Confederate Jasmine and Traders Compass. Clusters of striking, scented white flowers are produced throughout the summer, set off beautifully against the dark green foliage, which turns bronze in winter. It has a height and spread of 6-9m (20-28ft) height and spread in 10 - 20 years.

It looks stunning growing over an arch, pergola, or sheltered trellis, though to make the most of the scent it should be planted near doorways or entrances. Although classed as frost-hardy, it is best grown in the milder parts of the country, though in cooler areas it can be grown under cover of a greenhouse or conservatory.

Trachelospermum does best in very free draining soils of moderate to high fertility which are neutral to alkaline, though it will grow in slightly acid soils. It can be grown in a container in John Innes No 3 potting compost, or in a good quality multipurpose or peat-free compost. It should be planted in either spring or autumn.

It needs full sun or dappled shade along with shelter from cold, drying winds. The ideal position is against a south, south-west or west-facing wall. If you are growing trachelospermum in a south-facing conservatory or glasshouse, you will need to shade the plant from direct sunlight to prevent the leaves being sun scorched.

Plants need plenty of water during the growing season (especially container grown specimens) to ensure that they don’t dry out, but only water sparingly during the winter, allowing the surface of the compost to dry out between waterings.

Top dress garden specimens annually with a general fertiliser such as Vitax Q4, Growmore or blood fish and bone at 50-70g per sq m (1˝-2oz per sq yd).

Young plants will need some support and training initially, but Trachelospermum is a self-clinging, twining climber so will cover the space available on its own once it gets established. It can be left to scramble upwards, mound up and then arch downwards with a cascade of flowering shoots.

General pruning is done is spring, and just consists of thinning out congested, weak or badly placed shoots. Wandering branches can be tied back to their supports to improve the shape of the plant. If required, the plant can be renovated by cutting all shoots back by two thirds, to a side shoot or flowering spur. This should encourage new shoots to emerge from the remaining branches and from the base,though some of these new shoots may need thinning.

Trachelospermum can be propagated by layering in spring, and also from semi-ripe cuttings in summer and autumn. Giving your cuttings bottom heat of 15-20°C (59-68°F) in a heated propogator will increase your chance of success.

Fruit and seed are rarely produced in the UK, as our summers are shorter and cooler than in the plant’s native regions of Asia, so propagation from seed is unlikely.

Some cultivars you might see for sale include:-

T. jasminoides ‘Variegatum’: Leaves with a creamy-white margin.

T. jasminoides ‘Wilsonii’: White veined leaves that turn crimson in autumn.

T. asiaticum ‘Goshiki’: Green, white and pink mottled leaves.
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