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March 10th, 2021

Dress Up Your Arbor or Trellis with Carolina Jessamine

by R.S. Walsh

Carolina Jessamine Gelsemium Semperviren) is a great climber and loves to fill in spaces when planted on trellises and arbors, along fences, or under trees with loose canopies. The glossy leaves stay green all year, providing dense coverage for the supporting structure. Carolina Jessamine vines are covered with clusters of fragrant, yellow flowers in late winter and spring. The flowers are followed by seed capsules that ripen slowly over the remainder of the season. If you want to collect a few seeds to start new plants, pick the capsules in the fall after the seeds inside have turned brown. Air dry them for three or four days and then remove the seeds.

These sprawling vines are native to the Southeastern United States where winters are mild and summers are hot. They tolerate an occasional frost, but persistent freezes kill them. Although they tolerate partial shade, sunny locations are best for growing Carolina Jessamine. In partial shade, the plant grows slowly and may become leggy, as the plant focuses its energy on upward growth in an effort to find more light. Choose a location with fertile, organically rich soil that drains well. If your soil falls short of these requirements, amend it with a generous amount of compost before planting. The plants tolerate drought but look their best when watered regularly in the absence of rain.

Dress up your arbor or trellis with sunny southern beauty.

This column is a joint effort by all at In The Garden, Sanibel’s retail garden center, at 3889 Sanibel Captiva Road, Sanibel Island.

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