The sweetly scented, golden yellow, trumpet-shaped flowers on the cascading, fine textured foliage of Carolina jessamine (Gelsemium sempervirens) covering fences and trees in open woodlands and along roadsides from late January to early April makes it one of the most beautiful vines throughout the Southeast.
Carolina jessamine’s growth rate is moderate, reaching 20 feet or more when maintained as a vine. It can also be grown as a ground cover by cutting yearly in the late spring after flowering.
This vine is very adaptable and will grow in a variety of conditions. Carolina jessamine tolerates either full sun or partial shade.
Flowering is more prolific and foliage growth is denser in full sun. For best results, plant it in rich, well-drained soil. Over-fertilization can reduce flowering, so fertilize only while the plant is actively growing with moderate amounts of a balanced fertilizer.
Insects or diseases rarely trouble Carolina jessamine. Deer will not eat it.
However, all parts of this plant are toxic. The sap may cause skin irritation in sensitive individuals. People, especially children, can be poisoned by sucking the nectar from the flowers. This should be considered when choosing a location for installing Carolina jessamine.
Sheila Dunning is an agent at the University of Florida's Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Extension office in Crestview.