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What is a Water Jasmine?

By O. Parker
Updated May 16, 2024
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Water jasmine is a tropical, flowering shrub or small tree from South East Asia, where it is commonly found near Buddhist temples. This small, fast-growing shrub is easily manipulated by pruning, making it suitable as a bonsai tree. An alternate, frequently used common name is wild water plum. Water jasmine is in the Apocynaceae, or dogbane, family. The scientific name is Wrightia religiosa.

Water jasmine grows up to 10 feet (3 m) tall with laterally spreading, silver-gray branches covered by delicate green leaves. In the spring and summer, small, white, highly scented flowers bloom at the ends of the branches. In tropical climates, water jasmine grows fast and is in leaf all year. In cooler sub-tropical climates, where winter temperatures drop below 65 degrees Fahrenheit (18 C), the tree will lose its leaves in the winter, becoming deciduous. Water jasmine can survive outdoors in areas where the minimum winter temperature does not drop below 30 degrees Fahrenheit (-1 C).

In tropical and sub-tropical climates, water jasmine can be planted outdoors. A versatile landscape plant, this tropical is suitable as a hedge, planted in a shrub bed, trained against a trellis, or planted alone as a focal point in the landscape. Grown next to a patio or outdoor living area, the highly fragrant flowers fill the air in summer.

This tropical enjoys full sun or light shade. Like many tropicals, water jasmine thrives in sandy, well-draining soil that is kept damp with frequent irrigation. Wet, cold, and waterlogged soils are likely to cause root rot. It thrives in a range of soil pH from a slightly acidic 5.6 to an alkaline 7.5.

In cool, temperate climates, water jasmine is grown as a potted houseplant. With moderate pruning, this plant can be kept as a medium or large houseplant on a heated porch or in a bay window. As a fast-growing, easily manipulated plant, water jasmine is frequently created into a bonsai tree. A pot with several drainage holes in the bottom will allow water to drain through and prevent water from building up around the roots. A well-draining potting soil mix should be used.

Water jasmine should be pruned in the fall after the flowers die. The flowers bloom at the tip of the branches; if heavy pruning is performed early in the season, flowering will be limited. The plant responds well to pruning any time of year, as long as flowers are not desired.

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Discussion Comments

By stoneMason — On Apr 05, 2014

As far as I know, the latin term for vines in the jasmine family start out with "jasminum." True jasmine belongs to the olive family. But the latin term for water jasmine is wrightia religiosa, so it's not really jasmine.

By literally45 — On Apr 04, 2014

@burcinc-- We have a dwarf water jasmine and we live in California. Water jasmine is beautiful and is great for landscaping. Once it starts blooming, it blooms throughout summer, and it does smell lovely. If your neighbor is willing to divide the root and give you a piece, you can grow it from the root. I've even grown it from a cut stem. You could also ask for some seeds when the pods dry out in autumn, but it can be difficult to grow water jasmine from seeds.

You don't have to do much for water jasmine. It's a fairly hardy plant and as long as the temperatures are warm, it will be just fine. Just don't over water it as it hates excessive water.

By burcinc — On Apr 04, 2014

I live in Florida and my neighbor planted water jasmine recently. It's quite an impressive plant. It has only been a few weeks but it has grown considerably. It looks like it will bloom late spring or early summer. Apparently the flowers have a very sweet fragrance. I can't wait to experience that. I'm interested in purchasing one as well but I want to see my neighbor's plant bloom first. I want to make sure that the plant likes the type of soil.

Does anyone else here have water jasmine?

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