I like to think of Cestrum Parqui, night-blooming jasmine, as nature’s own contribution to the air deodorant problem, one that is as effective as any I can purchase in an aerosol can.
Small and insignificant though the individual blooms may be, they will make up for it with a sweet, all-pervading fragrance, so potent that a few blossoms will perfume a whole room.
(Some people, unfortunately, have an allergy to the scent, claiming that it gives them headaches.)
There are innumerable varieties of jasmine throughout the world which are members of the olive family. Many of these are climbers.
Some few jasmines belong to the dogbane family, such as Confederate jasmine (Trachelospermum jasminoides), so popular in our own Southern States, this being a woody evergreen vine.
Castum Parqui: Member of Nightshade Family
Cestrum Parqui, however, is a member of the nightshade family, a willowy shrub that may reach, when fully mature, a height of six feet.
Plants which I have been growing for more than a year, however, have not yet attained more than two-and-a-half feet, chiefly because I keep them severely pruned.
They may well have reached such proportions in that time, for they are rampant growers inclined to become leggy. Constant pruning keeps them within bounds and results in a bushier and more attractive plant.
Night-Blooming Jasmine: Welcome Member of Window Garden
The leaves, lanceolate and about six inches long, are a lovely apple-green that makes this night-blooming jasmine a welcome member of the window garden, particularly on dull winter days when its bright, cheerful foliage lends a spring-like note to the atmosphere.
The flowers are tubular with starlike openings, growing in clusters from the axils of leaf and stem and the terminals of branches. They are white with a slight tinge of green, not more than an inch in length.
There is nothing exotic or startling about the blossoms; they go almost unnoticed in a wealth of willowy leaves. Though not too prominent to the eye, they nevertheless make their presence known very definitely to the nostrilsóthe scent cannot be ignored.
My plants first bloomed in late July, and although they pour out their perfume only at night, the delicious smell, even with the windows open, was still detectable the next morningólike the melody, the fragrance “lingers on.”
The Culture of Cestrum Parqui is Simple Enough
My plants flourish in the corner of a south window, where they enjoy the winter sun: but the hot direct sunlight of summer will wilt and yellow the leaves, causing them to drop.
As no sunlight reaches through my south windows in summer, here the plants remain year-round.
Constant Supply of Water is Essential
A constant supply of water is essential, and you will discover that this night-blooming jasmine consumes large quantities, particularly if grown in small pots.
Mine are given water every day throughout the year, for I find that if this task is neglected even for a single day the leaves wilt rapidly as the soil becomes dry. Fortunately, a good soaking will revive the plants in less than an hour.
Greatest Trouble with House-Grown Jasmine
Perhaps the greatest trouble with house-grown jasmine is the yellowing and dropping of leaves, and if the condition becomes at all chronic, it can result in some shameful specimens.
This situation, however, can be corrected to the point where only an occasional leaf will drop by growing the plants on a rack above a tray of water and syringing the foliage on bright days.
Indoors and Outdoors Plants in Window Gardens
Indoors, my plants have suffered no diseases, and the only pests which have attacked them are aphids.
In the fall of last year, I brought in some outdoor plants to grow in the window garden, and it was evident that the aphids sneaked in with these.
I got rid of them quickly by merely running my thumb and forefinger firmly pressed up the stems and leaves.
Rooted Cuttings in Water
Cuttings will root in water, so whenever I cut back my plants, I place the pruned material in jars of water. They may be inclined to be stubborn about rooting at first, but after several weeks most of the cuttings will show root activity.
I continue growing them in water until there is good root formation. Even when they are transferred to soil, many will drop their leaves and die completely.
For this reason, I plant several rooted cuttings in a pot, and there are always two or three that will survive the ordeal to make new plants to give to friends and relatives. Until the plants become well-established, the soil must be kept wet.
Cestrum Parqui: Hardiest to be Found in Nightshade Family
Cestrum Parqui comes to us from South America – Chile, to be precise – and is thought to be the hardiest of several jasmines found in the nightshade family.
It is interesting to note that this family furnishes us with not only ornamental plants such as petunias, nerembergia, salpiglossis, Brunfelsia, browallia, and streptosolen, but food and drugs as well – potato, tomato, eggplant, pepper, and tobacco.
I am planning to plant a Cestrum Parqui outdoors permanently next summer. Perhaps it will prove hardy enough to survive a Delaware winter.
44659 by Keith S. Phillips