Madagascar Jasmine – Stephanotis floribunda

Few can resist the lovely flowers and heady perfume of Madagascar Jasmine. Although it is not one of the easiest house plants to grow and bring regularly into flower, its delightful waxy flowers will be your reward for the care and attention you give it.

The botanical name, Stephanotis, is Greek; stephanos means crown, and otis, ear. These two words refer to the shape of the flowers — which are tubular with five petals—and the fact that they grow in clusters, or panicles.

Of the five varieties in the genus Stephanotis, the most popular is S. floribunda. The plant has dark green shiny leaves; the flowers are carried close to the leaves and appear from May until October. They are frequently used by florists for buttonholes and bridal wreaths and bouquets.

Madagascar Jasmine will reach a height of 3m (10ft) or more, and shoots may grow about 60cm (24in) in one season. The flowers, about 38cm (1½in) in length, grow in clusters of eight.

Display ideasMadagascar Jasmine - Stephanotis floribunda

Grow this plant on its own, in a position where it will get all the available light, and, if in a greenhouse or conservatory, make sure it has sufficient room to climb and spread. Plants grown in pots indoors should be trained around a wire or cane hoop, otherwise, train the stems along wires or trellising. Mature plants appear at their best when they are allowed to grow along the ridges of the greenhouse — in summer they create a bower of beautiful, scented blossom.

Looking after your plant

Repot young plants annually in April until the plant is in a 20cm (8in) pot. After that, repot every 3 years. Always repot carefully so the roots are not damaged. Remove old compost from around the roots before placing in the new pot.

The vigorous growth of plants grown in the home should be trained around a cane or wire ,hoop, using the same method as that described for Common White Jasmine.

Propagation

Madagascar Jasmine can be propagated from cuttings at any time between April and June.

1 Take cuttings from side shoots that made new growth in the previous year. Cuttings should have at least 2 pairs of leaves and a growing tip and be 10cm (4in) in length.

2 Remove the lowest pair of leaves and dip the cuttings’ ends in some hormone rooting powder. Insert several cuttings in a pot of equal parts peat and sand. Cover with a polythene bag in which you have made a few small holes and keep at a temperature of 18°– 21°C (68°-70°F).

3 After three weeks remove the polythene bag. As soon as the new plants are well-established, repot them in the soil-based growing medium.

Pests And Diseases

New and old leaves turn yellow if the water is too alkaline.

Prevention: Always water the plant with rainwater or distilled water.

The flower buds dry out or drop if the plant is not watered enough or is moved about.

Prevention: Once you have found a bright warm spot for your plant, leave it undisturbed, otherwise the buds will fall off. Dry buds are caused by dry compost; water the plant more often to keep the compost moist.

Mealy bugs sometimes attack the leaves. Treatment: Remove them with a cotton bud dipped in diluted methylated spirit.

PLANT CARE

  • This plant will not tolerate neglect, although it is not a very difficult plant if it can be provided with a light position and correct temperatures.
  • Potting: Use a compost made from equal parts soil-based compost, coarse sand and peat and pot young plants in a 13cm (Sin) pot.
  • Water generously in the summer and mist spray daily with soft water during warm weather, but do not spray the flowers. Water sparingly from November—March.
  • Never allow the compost to dry out.
  • Feeding: Feed every 14 days from May—September with a standard liquid fertilizer.

BEST GROWTH ENVIRONMENT

  • Light: The plant likes bright but filtered light in summer. It can be stood in full sun for the rest of the year.
  • Temperature: It likes a minimum temperature of 18°C (64°F) from spring until autumn and will tolerate slightly higher temperatures during the summer. In winter, keep at a minimum of 10°C (50°F); 13°C (55°F) is ideal.

Buying Tips

  • Buy Madagascar Jasmine in spring when it first comes into flower. It is available from florists, garden centres and nurseries.
  • Choose a plant with at least one cluster of flowers about to bloom. Avoid any plants with damaged leaves and those that have dropped their flowers.
  • Properly cared for, and kept in a suitable position, Madagascar Jasmine will live for mariy years.
  • An evergreen with shiny leathery leaves and heavily-scented flowers, Madagascar Jasmine is a very ornamental plant that is best grown in a greenhouse or conservatory.

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