Last week at Sprout Home we received a shipment of Stephanotis floribunda, or Madagascar jasmine, and since that delivery the sweet heavy perfume of its flowers have been omnipresent in the air. It has reminded us all that spring is not that far away (at least we hope). Also known as 'bridal veil', the Madagascar jasmine is cultivated as a tropical ornamental prized for its fragrant, waxy, tubular white flowers. Its dark green leaves are ovate and leathery making this woody stemmed climber somewhat 'neat' in appearance while creating a simple backdrop to spotlight its bloom. This wiry twiner can sometimes be found during these winter months trained around a wire hoop and flowering, the bloom being forced by the grower. In nature the star-shaped flowers appear in mid Summer. Even when I can not find the Madagascar jasmine in bloom I will pick it up at the flower markets on occasion to use in arrangements or weddings just to get a whiff of the sweet scent.
Flickr photo by scott.zona
Native to tropical Madagascar, they enjoy average warmth in summer and cooler temperatures in the winter (minimum of 55 degrees). Madagascar jasmine likes bright indirect light, away from intense direct sun especially during midsummer heat. They enjoy humidity -- occasional misting is encouraged or place your plant in an area that normally has a higher humidity concentration such as a bathroom. During the growing season keep your plant evenly moist, but not waterlogged, letting the soil to go dry to the touch. Keep it drier during the cooler winter period. It is best to keep it on the dry side than it is to over water it. Make sure your soil is well drained and fertile. Fertilize spring through fall to encourage and maintain bloom. Watch for scale or mealy on this sweet-smelling plant.
Since they naturally grow well over 10' they make a great trellised vine in the South and in colder climates as a potted specimen that can be moved inside to home or to a greenhouse. The Stephanotis can be slightly delicate in regards to excepting change in both moving location and drastic temperature fluctuation. Keep it away from heavy drafts and once in bloom do not try to move your plant -- it could lead to having it drop its fragrant blooms which no one wants to have happen. It is recommended to prune your plant regularly in the spring to keep it compact. It is rare that you run across a plant that rewards you with such a sweet-smelling bloom without having to provide it with direct sunrays all day, but here it is and it's ready for summer.