Winter Jasmine – A Welcoming Spring Flower in the Dead of Winter

winter jasmine - welcoming spring flowerWhile everything in the February garden is still looking rather brown, Winter Jasmine (Jasminum nudiflorum) is punctuating the winter landscape with a mound of eye-popping, yellow blossoms. Although not widely known, this Chinese native is usually the first shrub to bloom in early spring. A member of the olive family, it is also known by its Chinese name, Yingchunhua, which means, “Welcoming Spring Flower”.

Easy to grow and trouble-free, this deciduous perennial climber is hardy in USDA Hardiness Zones 6-9 (Washington, DC is 7a). Its arching bright green stems need some support, so they are well-suited to growing up a fence or tumbling down a retaining wall. Winter jasmine can mound to 4 feet, and spread to 7 feet unsupported.

The plant has small leaves and vibrant yellow tubular flowers, but alas, no fragrance like its jasmine relatives. It blooms best in full sun, but will tolerate part shade.

Although more of a vine, not a shrub, winter jasmine can be a vigorous and competitive grower. It may need to be untangled and tied in order to keep it tidy and it can be easily trained as an espalier.

Because it is relatively rugged, hard pruning the winter jasmine right after flowering is recommended. You should thin out older, woodier shoots, or shorten them to encourage growth. Winter jasmine can withstand being cut right to the ground and newer growth over the summer guarantees a substantial display during the winter.

The sprawling stems of the winter jasmine send out roots wherever they touch the ground, making propagation very easy. This makes it perfect for mass plantings on steep slopes.

This jasmine prefers well-drained, ordinary soil, and objects to being waterlogged. In poorer soil, it may need extra water to become established.

Although it could be easily confused with forsythia, winter jasmine blooms much earlier, flowering in waves throughout winter and early spring. Plant this gem to guarantee some flowered twigs for the vase on the winter breakfast table!

Some other plants offering early spring flowers you may wish to consider include:

  • Slender Deutzia (Deutzia gracilis)
  • Lenten Rose (Helleborus orientalis)
  • Chinese Fringe Flower (Loropetalum)
    lorapetelum winter bloomer
  • Star Magnolia (Magnolia stellata)
  • Japanese Witch Hazel (Hamamelis japonica)
  • Chinese Witch Hazel (Hamamelis mollis)
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