A self-climbing or sprawling woody vine that works beautifully as a groundcover, the Tricolor Asiatic jasmine (Trachelospermum asiaticum 'Tricolor') is also called the variegated jasmine. Lacking visually stunning flowers, its pink-and white-blushed foliage draws all the attention. Grow it outdoors successfully in USDA Hardiness Zones 7b through 11a.
This member of the dogbane family, Apocynaceae, hails from the open woodlands of Korea and Japan where it twines upon trees or sprawls across the ground. 'Tricolor' is a mutation of the wild form that was selected and propagated by gardeners for ornamental use.
Selection 'Tricolor' bears small oval leaves with a glossy finish. Leaves range in color from white to pink, maturing with more deep green coloration, especially those shaded from light or on older parts of the vines. New foliage emerges nearly pure white with pink blush and occasional green speckles. In the chill of fall and winter the pink tones deepen to rosy red and burgundy. Vining stems that grow upright may produce tiny light yellow flowers in summer that release a delicious fragrance. Horizontally growing vines typically fail to flower.
Its stems reach a length of 6 to 10 feet, and if grown prostrate as a groundcover, the billowing foliage rarely gets taller than 6 to 10 inches.
Grow the Tricolor Asiatic jasmine in a fertile, well-draining soil that is not alkaline in pH. Soils rich in organic matter promote best growth of leaves and stem lengths. If soil remains evenly moist across the growing season, this plant tolerates about six to 10 hours of daily direct sun. If less-than-optimal irrigation or soil conditions reign, planting it in partial sun to partial shade is best. A shifting shade or sun exposure that provides between four and eight hours suffices. During the summer, water freely, providing 1 to 2 inches of irrigation if rainfall is lacking. Liquid fertilizer or granular slow-release fertilizers work best in spring and summer. Avoid over-watering and fertilizing in winter, when the plant becomes nearly dormant and halts growth.
After planting, Asiatic jasmine vines focus resources on developing strong root systems for the first year. Subsequent years find more leaf and stem growth, filling in naked areas of stems and becoming densely foliated. Once established, it demonstrates good tolerance to drought.
'Tricolor' makes an exceptionally ornamental ground cover in mild winter regions, as the blushing white, pink, rose and green foliage adds visual interest year round. Although the vines do not flower if growing prostrate, training the vine upwards onto a post, gate or fence allows a perfume to grace the landscape in summer, especially nice on patios or home entrances. It may also be grown in large hanging baskets.
Pruned stems or plucked leaves exude a milky white sap that may cause a rash or dermatitis on the skin of sensitive individuals.