529 Tabernaemontana divaricataCommon Names: crepe jasmine Family: Apocynaceae (dogbane Family)
Crepe jasmine is a beautifully shaped evergreen shrub which forms symmetrical 6 ft (2 m) high mounds of glossy foliage. The many branches tend to grow almost parallel to the ground giving the shrub an attractive horizontal aspect (the species name, divaricata, means "at an obtuse angle"). Like many members of the Apocynaceae family, the stems of crepe jasmine exude a milky latex when broken. The large shiny leaves are deep green and are 6 or more inches (15 cm) in length and about 2 in (5 cm) in width. Crepe jasmine blooms in spring but flowers may appear sporadically all year. The waxy blossoms are white five-petaled pinwheels that are borne in small clusters on the stem tips. A frequently encountered cultivar is 'Flore Pleno', which has double flowers. The reference Hortus Third also lists another cultivar 'Grandifolia' with double petaled flowers and larger leaves.
Tabermontana divaricata is native to tropical areas of India and is widely grown for its ornamental value in frost free areas around the world.
CultureCrepe jasmine is not particular about soil. It responds to fertilizer by looking its best. Prune lightly as required to maintain a nice form. Light: Crepe jasmine grows in sun or partial shade - plants tend to be more compact in sun. Moisture: Crepe jasmine needs water during dry periods, but still requires good drainage. Hardiness: USDA Zones 9 - 11. This tropical shrub will stand brief periods of freezing. I grow crepe jasmine in Tallahassee and it has endured temperatures in the high 20's F (-2° C)without sustaining damage. It freezes back every year but returns in the spring. In my Zone 8 garden crepe jasmine grows to only about 3 ft (1 m) in a season, but it does bloom and I enjoy it very much. Propagation: Propagate by seed or by cuttings from new springtime growth.
The thick foliage and shapely form of crepe jasmine makes it ideal for creating screens and enclosures. At Lew Gardens in Orlando, Florida, this shrub is used to create the "walls" for the white garden. Its low profile makes it perfect for shrub borders or use one as a specimen alone to enjoy its horizontal sculptural form.
This beautiful tropical shrub's rather fast rate of growth makes it a good plant for new gardens - especially shady ones where it provides structure and form. This plant's best feature is its delightful fragrance which earned it the common name of crepe jasmine, even though it is not related to the true jasmines. Plant one near the porch or patio to enjoy the lovely perfume which is most intense in the evening - the scent is vaporized from the flowers by the heat of day.