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Carolina jessamine produces lovely yellow flowers and will attract bees, hummingbirds and butterflies to your garden.

Right now, you're probably seeing lots of leafless trees and shrubs, freeze-damaged tropicals and dormant lawns.

But if you look closer, you will begin to see pops of color in the landscape as camellia Japonica, Japanese magnolias and many cool-season annuals begin to grow.

One plant that tends to take a back seat to these all stars is Carolina jessamine (Gelsemium sempervirens).

Carolina jessamine is a semi-evergreen, late-winter blooming vine with fragrant yellow flowers. It has a vast habitat, stretching as far north as Virginia, down to south Florida and as far west as Texas.

The natural habitat of Carolina jessamine is on the woodland edges and in semi-open fields. In your landscape, Carolina jessamine can be grown on trellises or along picket or chain-link fences to add a unique element.

When choosing where to plant Carolina jessamine, pick an area that gets full to partial sunlight and also has well-drained soil. Because of its pretty yellow flower, plant it where you can enjoy looking at it.

Individual vines can reach up to 20 feet if the plant is left to grow naturally. To control the growth of Carolina jessamine, prune in March or early spring to help maintain the shape and size of the plant. After pruning in early spring, be sure to fertilize with a general-purpose fertilizer.

Aside from being an attractive plant, Carolina jessamine is beneficial to encouraging wildlife to come into the garden. Its flowers attract native bees, hummingbirds and spicebush swallowtail butterflies.

This plant typically has very little disease and insect problems. If the vine is not pruned and becomes dense, wasps may become a problem.

All parts of the plants are poisonous if swallowed. Leaves, flowers and roots contain a poison that protects this native vine from forging animals, says Neil Odenwald, a professor emeritus of landscape architecture at LSU. But the plant is safe to touch, so performing maintenance should not be an issue.


Email gardennews@agcenter.lsu.edu. Follow Lee Rouse on Instagram, @rouses_horticulture.