First impression: What a fabulous plant for an evening stroll. Clusters of white flowers draped with bright red berries. Small, glossy, dark green leaves surround this colorful combo. The small berries and clusters of flowers cover the shrub. I detect a strong orange blossom fragrance. Jasmine combined with orange blossom scented flowers aptly named Orange Jasmine. Wow-what an olfactory stopper! Just follow your nose to this aromatic display in citrofastic bloom at the Botanical Gardens of the Sanibel Moorings.
Upon further investigation: Years ago, Orange Jasmine used to be planted all over SWFL in every garden. Sadly, canker and a psyllid greening have ravaged the citrus varieties (it is in the Rue family). Before all our numerous citrus diseases became a reality, we could ship, buy and sell citrus plants from all over the world easily. Today, Citrus varieties are subject to many well-needed restrictions and inspections when being shipped. We as gardeners can help by being cognizant of not bringing any food or plant materials with us in our travels. Unknowingly, we could be bringing in the next highly invasive pest or disease. Orange Jasmine has never recovered from its association with citrus diseases and cannot be easily purchased any more. Our jasmine through out our garden has been here many decades. It remains healthy, but every now and then it gets whiteflies, which I can detect when I see sooty mold. Sooty mold is the residue from the flies, which is sticky and black and can be removed by hosing the leaves with a strong water spray. I combat chewing insects with a systemic product when applied to the roots of the plant is absorbed by the plants roots. Once the plant has absorbed the systemic the plant becomes deadly to the targeted chewing insect, and only kills the chewing insect and no other beneficial insects. Our star can be planted alone or grouped together, mature height is 12-15 feet. I have some that are hedged low (3-4 ft), high (6-7 ft), or groomed into a tall shrub/specimen. Its compact leaves let you get creative and trim this plant in all kinds of shapes. It is naturally multi-trunked, but can be pruned to one main trunk. Over the years gardeners before me have shaped several tall tree-like specimens that become scented parasols in bloom. Does well with our sandy soil, is salt tolerant, partial shade to full sun, and is drought tolerant. Pollinators flock to the blooms! It is a non-native, who hails from East Asia and India. Bonsai artisans adored its ilex-like leaves, twisting and turning limbs, and dimensional berries and flowers. Interesting trivia: In days past Orange Jasmine was used for treating wounds as an anti coagulant. Today the twigs are still being used as a natural toothbrush and mouth freshener.
Pros: Ever blooming most of the year Drought tolerant - Very attractive to wildlife - Fast growing - Minimal insect damage - Blooming brings in the pollinators Great for a privacy hedge/barrier Bring out your inner sculpture desires with artistic pruning - Evening strolls are ahhh!
Cons: Can get twiggy over time needs pruning - Blooming brings in the bees Be savvy about where you purchase from Neighbors will wonder were the oranges are Non native-can be aggressive with seedlings.
Conclusion: Put down your fruit picker, aren't no oranges here. You won't need a ladder to take in a bushel of aromatic sunshine in our sweet smelling garden. So many blossoms, so little time in a tropical eye catching garden.
Don't wanna miss this bloomer!
NOTE: I am beginning my gardening vacation, my column will return rested and refreshed in October. Cheers!