Carolina jessamine is a fascinating plant with its long, twisted vines adorned with beautiful bell-shaped yellow flowers. However, this stunning plant has a dark secret – it is deadly poisonous. But fret not, as long as you refrain from consuming it, you’ll be perfectly safe to admire its springtime display. In fact, you’ll be amazed by the splendid show this plant offers every year.
To assist you in finding relevant products, we provide links to vendors. If you decide to make a purchase through one of our links, we may receive a commission. However, don’t let any drama about it put you off. The G. sempervirens vine is a delightful and colorful plant that grows naturally in the southeastern and south-central United States, as well as Honduras, Guatemala, Belize, and Mexico. This vine is not known for any violent crimes, and even deer tend to leave it alone. This evergreen vine can climb up to 20 feet, making its way over fences, walls, trellises, and anything else it encounters. It’s hardy in USDA Hardiness Zones 7 to 9 and is cherished for its inch-long flowers with a sweet aroma, which bloom on reddish-brown stems.
When you spot the bright flowers of this plant, it’s a sure sign that winter is on its way out. But don’t let its charming appearance deceive you. This beauty has a dark side. Are you looking to add some excitement to your garden? Then read on to discover more about this fascinating plant. Like any notorious criminal, this plant goes by many names. It’s also known as the yellow jessamine, Carolina wild woodbine, evening trumpet flower, poor man’s rope, and Carolina jasmine.
From a scientific standpoint, the Carolina jessamine can be referred to as either Bignonia sempervirens or Bigonia sempervirens, which is a misspelling. Carl Linnaeus, a botanist from Sweden and considered the “father of modern taxonomy,” first classified this flower as Bignonia sempervirens back in 1753. However, in 1789, French botanist Antoine Laurent de Jussieu caused some controversy when he published “General Plantarum,” wherein he defined different plant groups than Linnaeus had. This included reclassifying the Carolina jessamine into his newly created genus called Gelsemium, which includes two other poisonous plants: G. rankinii and G. elegans. Gelsemium was previously classified in the family Loganiaceae but was later reclassified into Gelsemiaceae in 1994. The Gelsemiaceae family also includes two other genera: Mostuea and Pteleocarpa. Mostuea has nine small flowering shrubs, with two native to Brazil and the others native to tropical Africa. Pteleocarpa only has one plant, which is a medium-sized tree known as P. lamponga that grows in southern Thailand, parts of Malaysia, Sumatra, Singapore, Borneo, and Bangka. In 1924, the Carolina jessamine was declared the state flower of South Carolina through Joint Resolution No. 534.
The General Assembly of the state described Carolina jessamine as a flower that can be found all over the state, and its arrival is a sign of the upcoming spring. Its sweet fragrance is the first thing that welcomes us, and its delicate flowers resemble the pureness of gold. It represents the loyalty and patriotism of the state by returning every year out of the dead winter, symbolizing constancy. A scientific paper from 2013 by William King, Dr. Leo Pezzementi, and Dr. H. Wayne Shew stated that the alkaloid chemicals present in Carolina jessamine may have pain-relieving, anxiety-reducing, and anti-cancer properties. However, further research is necessary to confirm its effectiveness. This plant quickly reproduces and can be propagated through various methods, including seed collection in the fall. The seeds need to be refrigerated until ready for use to maintain their viability and freshness.
To avoid plagiarism, here’s a rephrased version: A photo credited to Jim Evans is available on Wikimedia Commons, licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0. To start growing the plant, use a growing medium that drains well and place the pots or trays in a well-lit indoor area. Keep the soil damp until the seeds sprout in about a week or ten days, then water them twice weekly. If you began planting in autumn, wait for spring to transplant the seedlings when it’s still cool outside. But if you started late, it’s best to let them grow in their containers until the next autumn before planting outdoors. This particular plant can take root from semi-hardwood cuttings. Cut a four- to six-inch piece of stem with a clean and sharp tool late in the growing season, typically in mid- to late summer when the current year’s growth has matured.
To propagate jessamine, prepare a pot with good drainage and fill it with high-quality growing medium. Create a hole in the soil by inserting a pencil and removing it. Remove leaves from the bottom third of the cutting, dip it into rooting hormone powder, and place it into the hole in the container. Ensure that the growing medium is equally moist and kept in a warm area with indirect light until rooting occurs, which should take 10-12 weeks. Once growth is visible, decrease watering frequency. Monthly, feed the plants during autumn with one teaspoon of NPK 10-10-10 fertilizer for every quart of potting mix. During winter, reduce the fertilizer quantity to half a teaspoon. Keep the new plants protected until early spring and transplant them outside while it’s still chilly. Keep in mind that newly rooted jessamine cuttings may not bloom for up to three years. Another propagation method is dividing rhizomes, which starts with digging up jessamine in September or October, removing excess soil, and cutting rhizomes into pieces with at least one bud on each.
To propagate jessamine, bury the rhizomes in the ground at the same depth they were planted when dug up and water regularly twice a week during winters, with above-ground activity expected in spring. If you’re transplanting seedlings, dig a hole of the same size as the container and place the new plant in it. It’s best to plant jessamine in early spring or fall because of cooler weather. Mulch around the planting area and water well. The plant can also be propagated by layering its vine along the ground in summer, burying five-inch segments at regular intervals with a small cut on portions of the stem intended for burial. Water twice a week and separate the rooted portions once they’ve grown before replanting. Jessamine can be planted along a fence or wall, but grows much more densely and blooms prolifically in full sun. It usually grows three to five feet every year.
This plant is somewhat drought-resistant, but it will thrive much better if given regular watering. Similarly, the quality of soil it grows in also affects its growth. While it can survive in poor soil, it prefers organically rich soil with a pH between 6.0 to 7.5. If you’re unsure about your soil type, consider conducting a soil test to determine if these plants will grow well in your soil or if you need to improve it. Based on my personal experience, I planted two jessamines years ago in subpar soil, and while one plant lived for a few years, the other struggled to produce lush foliage or impressive flowers.
In August, my second Carolina jessamine plant died due to my negligence in watering it regularly. If you want to avoid the same outcome as me, follow these tips for better results. Fertilize your Carolina jessamine with a slow-release, balanced fertilizer after it flowers in late spring, but be careful not to over-fertilize as this can decrease flowering. Depending on your desired outcome, space your plants three feet apart for ground cover or four to eight feet apart for vertical coverage with rich, organic soil and full sun. To prevent leggy and top-heavy vines, prune your plant once a year after it blooms in the spring by removing old, dead stems and performing general cleanup. Cut it a bit smaller than your desired size for optimal growth. Lastly, remember to water your Carolina jessamine regularly to maintain even moisture.
Don’t forget to wear gloves and long sleeves when trimming the jessamine plant as it can cause contact dermatitis. Despite its charming appearance, it can be a bit evil. If you’re using it as a ground cover, keep the vines trimmed to three feet and wait until after the bloom period to trim in the spring. The species plant commonly seen in the southeastern region is G. sempervirens.
In case the jessamine leaves remain damp for a prolonged period, it is possible that fungal leaf spotting may occur. This can be observed through the presence of brown, tan, or black spots, and can be remedied by using a fungicide. Additionally, aphids may sometimes be noticed on jessamine plants.
Aphids, which come in different colors, are minuscule insects that can harm plants by sucking fluids from their leaves and other parts. To remove minor infestations of these pests, use insecticidal soap or spray them off with a garden hose. In case you need more information on how to control aphids in your garden, check out our guide. Carolina jessamine can add beauty to your garden when grown on an arbor or trellis. It can also serve as an attractive ground cover in areas with minimal foot traffic. This perennial evergreen vine has yellow flowers and dark green foliage. It is native to southeastern and south-central United States, Honduras, Guatemala, Belize, and Mexico. Carolina jessamine requires moderate maintenance and its USDA Zone hardiness ranges from 7-9. It can tolerate drought but will not flower or fill out as much. Bloom time occurs in early to mid-spring, and the vine needs moderate and consistent moisture. It requires full sun exposure or partial shade and thrives in organically rich soil with a pH of 6.0-7.5. The climbing vine can be spaced 4-8 feet apart while the ground cover needs 3 feet of spacing. Be sure to plant it in well-draining soil at the same depth as the transplant container. Swamp jessamine makes for a great companion plant. Growing these twining vines is simple; just don’t eat them and caution children against mistaking the beautiful blooms for honeysuckle. The risks associated with Carolina jessamine are easily avoidable, and its breathtaking allure makes it worth growing.