Stephanotis floribunda My aunt June was justifiably proud of the huge potted bridal jasmine (Stephanotis or Marsdenia floribunda) vine, which flourished in her east-facing window. Perhaps it especially loved her because June is the bridal month, during which this flower shines in bouquets.

Also called Madagascar jasmine for the land where it originated, it’s not actually a jasmine, but makes similarly fragrant white tubular flowers against its waxy leaves, generally from late spring through autumn. Only hardy in USDA zones 10 and 11, it most be grown indoors for part of the year elsewhere.

Stephanotis floribunda seedpods and seedsAunt June's plant did so well, in fact, that it produced an avocado-like fruit, from which she gave me seeds. I passed my extra seedlings on to other family members at a reunion and probably traded the others away. Then, of course, the one I’d kept for myself promptly expired that winter.

Fortunately, I was able to swap for more seeds, and my second plant has fared somewhat better. It tends to drop most of its leaves during winter and hasn’t bloomed yet, but at least it has survived. Since my aunt is gone now, I’d prefer to have a plant descended from hers as a memento, but can’t recall which relatives got the seedlings. Even if my memory were better, it wouldn’t be tactful of me to inquire whether those plants still live—or to demand one of them back!

IStephanotis floribundaf you want to try starting your own bridal jasmine from seeds, soak them for a day in warm water before sowing them 1/16 of an inch deep in damp seed-starting mix. Keep them at about 75 degrees Fahrenheit until they sprout. Fresh seeds tend to germinate rapidly, in about 5 days, though older ones may take a month or longer.

Judging from the comments on Dave’s Garden, bridal jasmine can be extremely easy to grow if you live in the right climate for it—such as Hawaii and parts of California. There, its vines may climb 20 feet or more. Where it’s forced to live indoors for part of the year, it apparently burgeons for some gardeners (such as Aunt June) and sulks for others (such as me).

Stephanotis floribunda seedlings For the best results, provide fertile, well-drained soil and keep the plant’s roots cool but its head in the sun. Usually, morning sun—as in an east-facing location—is recommended, but the plant reportedly can grow in full sun too. Although it likes heat during summer, it prefers to rest at temperatures between 55 and 65 degrees F. during the winter, when you also should cut back on watering.

Since bridal jasmine blooms on new wood, any pruning should be done in autumn or winter after it has finished flowering and before it begins growing again. Avoid moving the plant after it begins to set buds, or it may toss its bouquet of blooms in protest.

If your bridal jasmine makes seed pods, keep in mind that the pods often take a year to ripen, cracking open when ready, and the seeds won’t be viable until they do. Once you start them, I'd recommend that you keep at least two seedlings for yourself—just in case!


Photos: The cropped and enhanced banner image of a variegated bridal jasmine is by Andrey Korzun, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons and this license. The seeds photo is by blackthumbX2, the seedlings photo by WNYwillieB, and the flowers photo by KatG, all from the Dave's Garden PlantFiles. The antique image is by W. H. Fitch, from an 1844 edition of Curtis's Botanical Magazine, courtesy of plantillustrations.org.