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What is Madagascar Jasmine?

By R. Britton
Updated May 16, 2024
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Madagascar jasmine, or Stephanotis floribunda, is a climbing vine of the Stephanotis genus. As the name implies, this species is native to Madagascar, as are several other species in this group. Other species are native to China, Japan and Cuba. The vines of this plant tend to twine around one another, creating large tangles, but they can be untangled during winter if so desired.

This species is part of the Apocynacae family. This plant family includes milkweed and butterfly weed, and although Madagascar jasmine climbs and spreads, it is not considered a weed. In fact, it is highly prized by both home growers and commercial growers. Although named "jasmine," Madagascar jasmine is not a member of the jasmine genus.

Madagascar jasmine is a popular houseplant but also grows well outside. Whether growing indoors or outdoors, the vines will need some support, otherwise they might break as they grow. This plant prefers to be positioned in indirect or part sunlight and will not survive temperatures below 44 degrees Fahrenheit (7 degrees Celsius). If Madagascar jasmine is being grown outside in cooler climates, it is possible to keep the plant alive through a cold winter by covering it with fleeces and cloches and applying straw or leaf mulch around the base and the bottom leaves to retain as much warmth as possible.

In optimal conditions, including high to moderate levels of humidity, the vines of the Madagascar jasmine can reach lengths of 20 feet (6 m), but it is easily pruned and controlled for indoor growing or outdoor growing where there is a shortage of space. Pruning should be undertaken in late winter, when the first signs of growth occur. All of the dead or damaged wood should be removed, and at this stage, a grower is free to remove as much vine growth as necessary.

The flowers form in clusters and are a vibrant white with a waxy texture. Tubular and star-shaped, the flowers have a strong, distinctive perfume, and the plant is often known as bridal wreath, because the flowers are very popular in wedding bouquets in many countries.

The leaves of the plant are evergreen. They form in sporadic pairs along the vines. This species grows vigorously but irregularly. Madagascar jasmine should be kept moist but not waterlogged during most of the year, but to increase flower production, the plant should be allowed to dry out a little over the winter months. Fertilizer should not be applied during the winter months if the plant is being given a rest period.

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Discussion Comments
By stoneMason — On Apr 05, 2014

Madagascar jasmine does not look exactly like jasmine. The flowers have what looks like a bulb. So the flowers are longer, but also white. It's also not as fragrant as jasmine.

That being said, I love Madagascar jasmine as a house plant. It's strong and resistant against bugs, etc. It has dark green, glossy leaves that are just beautiful. And I like how the vines quickly wrap around whatever they are directed towards.

If anyone is interested in Madagascar jasmine, I suggest buying the live plant from a nursery or online. Previously, I tried growing it from seeds but I was not successful.

By SarahGen — On Apr 04, 2014

@ysmina-- That's because Madagascar jasmine is very similar to jasmine in appearance. There are other plants that carry the name "jasmine" because of their appearance even though they are not in the same genus. Star jasmine is an example.

I think when a plant is discovered in the wild, the locals are inclined to name it based on what it looks like. So various vines, weeds and plants that resemble true jasmine are named that way. But they are usually given an additional name to differentiate it from regular/true jasmine, such as "Arabian," "star" "Madagascar," etc.

By ysmina — On Apr 04, 2014

Why is this plant called "jasmine" when it does not belong to the jasmine family? It's kind of odd isn't it?

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