The term "winter jasmine" refers to several species of the jasmine family that bloom during the winter months, when color from other plants is often particularly scarce. There are several species of winter-blooming jasmine, the most common being Jasminum nudiflorum and Jasminum polyanthum. Most winter jasmine species are tolerant of both partial shade and full sun.
Both nudiflorum and polyanthum are native to China and have been naturalized throughout much of the world. Winter jasmine is widely cultivated and is very popular with gardeners as a bright, vibrant splash of color in an otherwise barren winter landscape. Both nudiflorum and polyanthum bloom on bare branches before leaves form.
Many winter-blooming jasmines are able to withstand nutrient-poor soils and still grow vigorously. Many varieties need to be vigorously pruned once the plant matures because the plants often become large and sprawling. Some winter jasmine species have long, trailing limbs that will root to form a new plant when they reach soil, much like a bramble. This allows them to spread quickly and become difficult to manage.
Jasminum nudiflorum is a shrub that produces long, trailing branches and masses of bright yellow flowers. Jasminum nudiflorum blooms throughout the winter months and early spring. Although jasmines are renowned for their powerful and distinctive scent, the blossoms of this species have no fragrance.
Jasminum polyanthum is a vine variety of winter jasmine that has exceedingly rapid growth. The vines of this winter jasmine can reach lengths of 20 feet (6 m). Like Jasminum nudiflorum, this winter jasmine flowers from early winter but flowers for a slightly longer period, into late spring. Jasminum polyanthum produces pastel pink buds that develop into heavily scented white, star-shaped flowers. Winter jasmine of this species manages to retain its foliage throughout winter in regions not at risk from frosts, becoming a beautiful evergreen.
Jasminum polyanthum is commonly trained to grow around fences and balconies and can be trained to grow up trellises. It can also be trained to grow into fanciful shapes and designs if supported by a strong framework and secured against it. Winter jasmine of this species is a very versatile plant and can be used in many ways.
Jasminum nudiflorum can be trained, but to a lesser degree, because the plant is a shrub and forms a large mound at the base before producing long trailers. The trailers can be secured against a trellis or other supporting frame. This winter jasmine can thrive in nutrient-poor soils, so it can be left to sprawl and be used as ground cover.