A semi-evergreen vine, Carolina jasmine produces fragrant trumpets attractive to a variety of pollinators.
FIRST IMPRESSIONS: Gelsemium sempervirens ‘Margarita’ is a striking native vine. Plants have glossy lance shaped evergreen leaves and an abundance of fragrant yellow trumpet shaped flowers. This vigorous twining vine thrives in moist soils in full sun to part shade.
HABITAT & HARDINESS: Gelsemium sempervirens ranges through the southeastern United States from USDA Zones 7-9. Plants occur from Virginia to Florida and west to east Texas.
The cultivar ‘Margarita’ was selected for its large showy flowers by Don Jacobs of Eco Gardens in Decatur, Georgia. Jacobs named the plant for his wife and introduced it into the nursery trade. It has since proven to have superior cold tolerance and is hardy from USDA Zones 6-9.
This vine is indigenous to woodland edges, thickets, roadsides, pine forests, open woods and roadsides.
PLANT DESCRIPTION: Gelsemium sempervirens ‘Margarita’ is a fast growing vine. Plants are supported by their wiry stems which twist around vertical supports or nearby plants. If no support is available, vines will sprawl on the ground and become a bushy groundcover.
Leaves are opposite and evergreen with a shiny surface. The blades are lance shaped with smooth margins. Foliage is deep green with a bronze or purplish winter color.
In spring waxy funnel shaped blossoms are borne in profusion. The flowers are arranged in showy 2-3” axillary clusters. Their intense vanilla like fragrance attracts a variety of pollinators.
Flowers mature into an inconspicuous flat pod.
Plants grow 10-20’ or taller if suitable vertical support is available.
CULTURAL & MAINTENANCE NEEDS: Gelsemium sempervirens thrives in sun or part shade in rich moist soil or average garden soil. Plants tolerate periods of drought and short periods of seasonal flooding
In garden situations this vigorous vine can be trained onto a sturdy trellis. If a pine tree is available, however, the stems will twine between the flat bark plates and grow toward the top without training.
If pruning is needed, schedule it shortly after flowering.
All parts of the plant contain toxins so plants are unpalatable to deer and other herbivores.
LANDSCAPE USES: This is a good choice for a Trellis, Arbor or Fence in Naturalized Areas or Wildlife Gardens. Gelsemium sempervirens ‘Margarita’ has Fragrance and Showy Blooms and can be used as an Accent, in Deer Resistant Plantings, Cottage Gardens, Shade Gardens or on Roadsides.
COMPANION & UNDERSTUDY PLANTS: The intense yellow flower color pairs well with blue or purple spring flowering plants like Amsonia ‘Blue Ice’, Iris cristata, Phlox divaricata, Sisyrinchium angustifolium 'Suwannee' or Viola walteri ‘Silver Gem’.
Lonicera sempervirens is a native evergreen vine that can be planted in similar cultural situations.
TRIVIA: The flowers, leaves, and roots contain poisonous strychnine-related alkaloids and may be lethal to humans and livestock. The floral nectar may also be toxic to honeybees if too much is consumed.
Gelsemium sempervirens 'Margarita' received a Gold Medal from the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society for its cold hardiness.
Gelsemium sempervirens is the state flower of South Carolina.
The word Gelsemium comes from the Italian word for jasmine - gelsomino. The nomenclature is due to the intense fragrance of the flowers.