A tropical vine bearing tubular clusters of fragrant white flowers from spring to autumn, the Madagascar jasmine (Stephanotis floribunda) potentially reaches heights of 10 to 20 feet. Alternative names include stephanotis vine, Hawaiian bridal wreath and floradora. The leathery green leaves are held in opposite pairs on the vining stems. Because it does not tolerate chilly temperatures well, grow stephanotis vine outdoors in frost-free regions, such as those in USDA winter hardiness zones 11 and warmer.
In the tropical garden, the stephanotis vine should be grown in full sun exposures on a sturdy trellis or twining up a tree or palm trunk. It needs at least six to eight hours of direct sunlight daily year-round, although in the heat of midsummer, shade from noon to about 5 p.m. will be beneficial since it will decrease the watering needs. Insufficient light will cause very dark-colored leaves, premature dropping of leaves, or poor production of flowers.
Grow stephanotis in a garden soil that has average fertility but certainly is moist and well-draining. A slightly acidic soil (pH 6.0 to 7.0) prevents nutrient deficiencies. Incorporate a lot of organic matter like leaf compost or well-rotted manure into the soil to improve its texture and nutrition. A sandy or loamy soil is better than a heavy or compacted clay soil type.
In the heat of the growing season when flowers can be produced, water freely to maintain a moist soil and support the new growth of vines and leaves. In the fall and winter months, allow only natural rainfall to sustain the plant as over-watering (especially in cool weather) can lead to root rot or other fungal problems). Soils can become slightly dry to the touch in winter without concern.
Providing a soil that is crumbly and rich in organic matter at the time the stephanotis vine is first planted helps reduce the need for fertilizers. Mulch the soil under the vine with organic matter so trace nutrients are slowly replenished in the soil. To boost growth rate, applying a well-balanced, slow-release granular fertilizer in spring and summer is acceptable as long as dosages are followed as recommended on the product label. Occasional soluble-fertilizer waterings are OK in summer, too. Do not fertilizer the vine in fall and winter months.
Indoor Houseplant Care
Stephanotis vine can be grown as a houseplant where winters outside are too cold. Make sure the vine grows in a potting mix (not topsoil) that is well-drained. Place the plant in very bright light, avoiding hot/intense sunlight in a large window in the afternoon. Morning sunlight until noon is ideal in a home. In spring and summer, water freely to keep the soil moist and fertilize with a balanced liquid (water-soluble) fertilizer as a part of watering every two to three weeks. Do not fertilize the houseplant in fall or winter.
To scale back the long vines or to encourage more branching and a fuller plant, the stephanotis can be pruned back in very late winter or early spring just before temperatures warm and days lengthen. Make the pruning cut 1/2 inch above a pair of leaves. One or more buds will sprout from that area to become new vine tips. Keep in mind greatly reducing the length of the vines can delay the flowering period until later into summer and fall.