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Ziva’s Flora Favs: Swamp Jasmine

“Swamp Jasmine? What’s that?” Yeah, I get that statement a lot when talking about this cool plant. Most of us have heard about the beautiful Carolina Jasmine vine, well, Swamp Jasmine is a relative of it. As a matter of fact, the two look almost exactly alike with their beautiful yellow funnel-shaped flowers. The differences in them are Swamp Jasmine has no fragrance and it has a much longer bloom time than Carolina does.

With a name like Swamp Jasmine, I’m thinking you can pretty much guess where it likes to grow: yep, it does great in swampy areas. Got a wet area in your garden, perhaps by the downspout or in a low spot, well, this could be the perfect vine for you. But it also adapts well to regular garden watering, which is good.

The botanical name is Gelsemium rankinii, with common names being: Swamp Jessamine, Swamp Yellow Jessamine, Rankin’s Trumpetflower, and Yellow Jessamine. It’s native to the Southeast from Louisiana over and up to North Carolina, and is hardy in zones 7a to 9b. It’s pretty versatile in that it can take full sun down to part shade. The twining vine growth can reach about 20′, but it’s nowhere near as aggressive as some other twining vines are. It’ll quickly scramble over fences, arbors, pergolas, walls, and up trees, or it can be used as a ground cover. If you want to grow it as a ground cover, use landscape fabric pins to hold the stems down as it gets established. The 1″ to 1-1/2″ golden-yellow blooms start showing up fall into spring, and since they’re full of nectar they give the birds, butterflies, bees, and all other pollinators good food when not a lot is available. It prefers acidic soil, so it grows fine in East Texas but would have issues trying to grow in the alkaline soil of West Texas. The leaves are usually evergreen except during unusually cold winters in which they go dormant for a short time. Berries are produced on it around late summer/early fall. If all of the above isn’t enough to make you want one of these beauties in your garden, then this tidbit might do the trick: neither deer nor rabbits munch on it.

One issue that needs to be talked about is all parts of this plant are toxic to humans and livestock if eaten. So don’t plant it around your horse or cow pastures. I’ve had this in my gardens before and have had no skin problems with it, but I’ve made sure to wash my hands after pruning or transplanting it. The sap can irritate the skin of some folks, so be sure to wear gloves when handling it.

So if you’re looking for a well-behaved, semi-evergreen to evergreen, yellow flowering vine that attracts pollinators, and can survive very moist areas, then Swamp Jasmine should be on your wish list! Just look how beautiful those flowers are!

Happy digging in the dirt!

Jeanni and Ziva
Beautiful Gardens Begin Here

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