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So beloved around the world is the richly scented flowering jasmine that people of many cultures name their daughters after it. Most jasmines prefer warmer, more tropical climes, and their dark, glossy leaves are the perfect visual foil for their white or light yellow petals. Choosing the best flowering jasmine depends upon the gardener’s needs and desires. For example, some jasmines are used to make teas, while others are poisonous; some offer an intense fragrance that might overwhelm other scented flowers. Landscape plays a part in choosing the best jasmine because different varieties offer different shrub sizes, while others are vining.
The gardener interested in jasmine’s fragrance should know that, while the five- or six-petalled tubular flowers exude sweet aromas, it’s the buds that are the true sources of fragrance. Their perfume wafts most strongly through the twilight after sunset. In fact, flowering jasmine loves moonlight, and many gardeners have noted that it sings its fragrant song best on nights lit by the full moon. These gardeners should avoid jasmine angular from South Africa as well as jasmine mesnyi or primrose jasmine; these flowers are without scent.
Some flowering jasmines are deciduous, and others retain their glossy leaves year round. Both types are common. Other landscaping considerations include whether a climbing, vine-type jasmine is best for the gardener’s available space or if a shrub type would work better. Shrubs can grow to 15 feet (4.5 m) or more, and grow rapidly, adding as much as two feet (0.6 m) in a season.
Safety is another concern. Many types of flowering jasmine make tea or scented oil and present no toxic dangers. The very popular southern Carolina jasmine, a vining type, has a toxic nectar that could sicken a nibbling child. Better choices in this case might include jasminum officinale or grandiflorum, if available.
Although it isn’t available everywhere, gardeners who have jasmine humile, or Italian jasmine, are lucky indeed. This evergreen sports shoots 20 feet (6 m) or more in length that arch midway through their length and lean back toward the ground to create a flower-bedecked canopy. As a plus, not only is this jasmine very fragrant, but it is a repeat bloomer, offering lovely flowers and fragrant buds throughout the summer.
Producing the happiest plants is a matter of tending to their needs and preferences. Jasmine shrubs and vines can handle full sun but will tolerate partial shade as long as they are offered at least four hours of sunlight and the site is warm; however, fewer flowers will be the result. They need well-drained, moist soil. They don’t mind some clay in the soil as long as there’s also sand or loam to help with drainage. Above all, jasmines should not be allowed to dry out for long periods of time.
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