While still dawn on one of those warm mornings we sometimes experience in early October, when I opened a window facing our back yard, a cloud of an intoxicating scent caught me off-guard completely: tucked with the other container-grown plants sitting on the patio, the potted night-blooming jasmine was in full bloom. And, since then it has produced flushes of flowers because of the mild days we recently had; though not very commonly seen, this tropical jasmine is indeed my pride and joy.
Noted for the fragrance the flowers emit at night, the night-blooming jasmine, Cestrum nocturnum, has rather unique characteristics: the plants are somewhat weedy-looking, thus might not draw one’s attention at the first sight, and the leaves have an undesirable odor if bruised, in addition to the fact that the greenish-yellow flowers are quite inconspicuous. But on warm nights, waves of a fragrance so intense cover the surrounding areas that the nose can detect the presence of a plant before the eyes can!
Interestingly, the night-blooming jasmine is a member of the nightshade family which includes vegetables such as potato and eggplant, though chances of running across a specimen of the jasmine where vegetable plants are sold is rather small! However, some garden centers do sell potted plants along with the other houseplants; also, it can easily be propagated by rooting cuttings of the stems. So, if someone you know has a mature plant, and if interested, it won’t hurt to ask for a piece of the stem. In all likelihood, the person will gladly give out some.
Like most tropical plants, the night-blooming jasmine doesn’t like to be left in the cold, literally! Therefore, when the night temperature is expected to be below 50 to 55 degrees, the potted plants that have been basking outside during the summer need to be taken indoors. In fact, on a recent cool night when we brought ours loaded with ready-to-open flower buds inside, the perfume that filled our home is indescribable!