How To Plant, Prune, Fertilize, Water And Care For Carolina Jasmine (Jessamine) Vines

Gelsemium, commonly called Jasmine or Jessamine, are very easy vines to grow. To distinguish them from other jasmine vines, I'll call them Jessamine in this article. Below you'll find helpful planting, fertilizing , pruning and watering tips to have your growing these magnificent flowering vines like the pros. 

Jessamine vines are ideal for use to climb along the top of fences, on a trellis, on a mailbox, or over an arbor or any other structure that might benefit from or support this magnificent fragrant vine. They can also be useful as a ground cover for slopes or embankments where the plants will naturalize, or to climb into smaller trees where early flowering is especially noticeable. To better and more often enjoy the wonderful fragrance, make sure to plant this one near windows or outdoor living spaces. Needless to say, jessamine vines are a must in fragrance or sensory gardens!

Here's a breakdown of what you need to know for how to plant and grow jessamine vines...

Cultural Preferences


Jessamine vines adapt well to many types of soil. They grow best in a moist, organically rich, well-drained soil but will tolerate periodic wet or dry conditions. Constantly wet conditions, where there is standing water, can be problematic

Testing Soil Drainage 

If you are uncertain about soil drainage in the area you intend to plant, it's well worth taking the time to test the drainage before planting. To test soil drainage, dig a hole 12" wide by 12" deep in the planting area. Fill the hole with water and let it drain. Then, after it drains, fill it with water again, but this time clock how long it takes to drain. In well-drained soil the water level will go down at a rate of about 1 inch an hour. A faster rate, such as in loose, sandy soil, may signal potentially dry site conditions. A slower rate indicates poor draining soil and could be a caution you might need to improve drainage.

Soil Ph

Jessamine vines grows best in an acid to slightly alkaline soil ranging from 5.5 to 8.0 on the pH scale. Most average garden soils fall between a pH range of 6.0 to 7.0, so soil pH shouldn't be a concern.

Testing Soil pH  

Soil pH is a measurement of the alkalinity or acidity of soil and is measured on a scale of 1-14, with 7 as the neutral mark. Any measurement below 7 indicates acid soil conditions, and anything above 7 indicates alkaline. If you're unsure about the pH of your soil, and whether or not it is suitable for growing Jessamine vines, it's a good idea to test the pH in the planting area. You can quickly test soil pH with an inexpensive soil pH tester probe. To raise the pH (make more alkaline) you can add pelletized limestone to the soil. To lower the pH (make more acid) you can apply Soil Sulfur, Aluminum Sulfate, or Chelated Iron. Adding organic compost to the soil or using compost as mulch can also help to increase acidity and maintain acid soil conditions.

Light Preferences

Jessamine vines grow and flower best in full to mostly sun however will tolerate some shade. We recommend at least 5 hours of direct sunlight per day.

Planting A Jessamine Vine In The Ground

Scroll down for container planting instructions

Spacing Recommendations:  3-6' along fences 

Step 1

Start by digging your planting hole at least two to three times as wide and as deep as the height of the rootball of your plant. The wider the hole the better. Place native soil removed from planting hole around the perimeter of the hole, in a wheel barrow, or on a tarp.

Step 2

Depending on the type, fertility and porosity of the soil in the planting area it may be beneficial to add a soil amendment to the native soil removed from the planting hole. When planting a Jessamine vine in dense clay or poor quality soil it is beneficial to thoroughly mix in some good organic matter such as bagged top soil, aged compost, and/or a good planting mix at a 25-50% ratio with the soil removed from the planting hole. When planting in very sandy or quick-draining soil mixing in some top soil, peat moss and/or compost will help to retain moisture in the soil. When planting in average, well-drained moist soil there is no need for adding a soil amendment.

Step 3

To remove your plant from the container it was growing in, it's best to cut the container away. After having removed the plant from the container, gently loosen some feeder roots around the surface of the rootball.

Step 4

Set your plant in the planting hole so that the top edge of the rootball is at or slightly above ground level to allow for settling. It may be necessary to place some of your backfill soil mixture in the bottom of the hole to achieve proper planting height.

NOTE:  If the soil is poorly drained (stays constantly wet) take measures to improve drainage. 

Step 5

After setting your plant in the planting hole, use one hand to hold the plant straight while using your other hand to begin backfilling the soil mixture around the root ball, tamping as you go to remove air pockets. When you have filled the hole to the halfway point you can soak the soil. Then continue backfilling to the top edge of the root ball. To avoid suffocating your plant, do not put any soil on top of the root ball.

Step 6 (Optional)

When planting your jessamine vine in a site far away from a water source, you can use remaining soil mixture to build a water retaining berm (catch basin / doughnut) that is 2 to 3 inches high or so around the outside perimeter of the planting hole. This basin will help to collect water from rainfall and irrigation, which can reduce the need for hand-watering. The berm can be removed after a growing season or two.

Step 7

After planting, deeply water the planting area and the rootball. For an extra boost, you can also water your jessamine vine with a solution of Root Stimulator, which stimulates early root formation and stronger root development, promoting greener, more vigorous plants.

Step 8

Apply a 1- to 2-inch layer of cured, shredded wood mulch or bark or a 1-2" layer of pine straw around your newly planted plants. Avoid using freshly chipped or shredded wood for mulch until it has cured in a pile for at least 6 months, a year is better. 

Planting A Jessamine Vine In A Container

When growing in pots jessamine vines appreciate a moist but well-drained soil. Constantly wet soil can be problematic. Therefore, plant in a container or pot that has a drainage hole(s) and use a quality potting soil or potting mix, or a 50/50 combination thereof for planting.

Make sure to choose a container with a drainage hole(s) at the bottom and one that is large enough to allow for many years of growth before shifting up to a larger size container. This might mean your planting pot would be 6 inches or more in width than the root ball of your plant. 

Container color will matter as well. Not only will you want to pick a color of container that goes well with the foliage and flower color of your Jessamine vine, you'll also want to pick a container that matches the style of your home or other structures and other plants in the surrounding environment. 

Many nursery & garden centers offer a wide variety of containers to choose from. Before heading out to buy a container take pictures of your home and the surrounding environment. Doing so will help you to choose just the right color and style.

Container Planting Instructions

Step 1

Before filling your container with the soil mix, we recommend lining the bottom with shade cloth or a porous landscape fabric. This will keep the drain holes from becoming stopped up with soil. If you use, stone or other materials in the bottom of the pot lay the fabric over it. 

Step 2

To remove your vine from the container it was growing in, it's best to cut the container away. After having removed the plant from the container, gently loosen some feeder roots around the surface of the root ball.

Step 3

Pour a small amount of your soil mixture in the bottom of the container. Set your plant in the container and make necessary adjustments by adding or removing some soil so that the top edge of the root ball will sit 1/2 to 1" below the rim of the container.

Step 4

Backfill with your potting soil around root ball, tamping as you go, until the level of potting soil is even with the top edge of root ball.

Step 5

Water thoroughly until water starts to drain from the holes in the bottom of the container. Add more potting mix if settling occurs during watering.

Step 6 (Optional)

Apply a 1/2" layer of wood chips or sphagnum moss to soil surface to help conserve moisture.

How To Care For Jessamine Vines 

Feeding - Watering - Pruning

How To Fertilize A Jessamine Vine

Jessamine vines aren't heavy feeders however will benefit from a feeding in early spring with a slow-release shrub & tree fertilizer or an organic plant food. Additional Iron and/or soil sulfur can be applied for deep greening of foliage.

How To Water A Jessamine Vine

Jessamine vines prefer a moist but well-drained soil. When established they are tolerant of periodic wet or dry periods. Constantly wet soil or standing water can be problematic. 

After Planting

Immediately after planting deep soak the soil in the planting area to a depth of at least 6 inches. For an extra boost, you can also water your newly planted Jessamine vine with a solution of Root Stimulator, which stimulates early root formation and stronger root development, promoting greener, more vigorous plants.

During First Growing Season

In average garden soil you should not have to water your newly planted Jasmine every day. In the absence of sufficient rainfall, water only as needed to keep the root ball and surrounding soil damp to moist. Keep in mind that deep soaking less frequently is much better than splashing just a little water on the plants every day. Plants planted during the winter dormant season, when not actively growing and evaporation is much slower, will require much less water.


When established they are tolerant of periodic wet or dry periods. That said if during a drought you see new leaves wilting or dropping from the vine this could be an indicator your plants could use a good, deep soaking.

Note: When watering with an automated irrigation system it's best to set your timer to water during the early morning hours and not in the late evening or at night, which can lead to the onset of fungus and other foliage diseases. Check soil moisture within a few days after planting and adjust your irrigation system accordingly to provide only enough water to keep soil moist, but not constantly soggy.

How To Prune A Jessamine Vine

Jessamine vines does not require pruning, however can be pruned by any amount as needed with bypass hand pruners or sheared with hedge trimmers to keep the vine tidy and/or in bounds. 

When to Prune

I recommend waiting to prune Jessamine vines until after they have finished blooming late winter or spring. Doing so often encourages repeat bloom. That said, stray vines that are spoiling look of the plant can be pruned almost any time of year. Cease pruning about two months prior to the average first-frost date in your area. 

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