Tuesday, June 30, 2015

PLANT OF THE WEEK: Vietnamese Water Jasmine

Native to the tropical regions of Africa, Asia and Australia, Wrightia religiosa can also be grown successfully in the southern US, It is most often seen in bonsai form. Though not related to jasmine, the flowers produce a sweet honey scent that can easily fill a room. Clusters of white flowers hang beneath the leaves of the tree and can last for weeks at a time.
Sweetly scented flowers
While the name suggests that this plant would love water, it is very easy to over-water. If you cannot keep the soil evenly moist, I recommend letting the plant dry out. My personal Wrightia goes into full wilt before I water. Full to part sun and regular fertilizing during the growing season are essential.

Vietnamese Water Jasmine trained as bonsai

Though I love this plant for its graceful structure and the fragrance, the stories that I have heard, and the little hint of mystery surrounding it, make it my favorite. Also known as Sacred Buddhist, throughout my research, I never found the reason it was given this name. Instead I was told that the name, water jasmine, came from the plant’s natural habit of growing out over water. When the plant bloomed, the flowers would reflect from the surface of the water into the sky. During my research I also found a quick note about this plant flowering when it rained. Yet another reason it is called water jasmine? I’m not entirely sure, but after all the rain we had in June, my bonsai is blooming.

Wrightia religiosa is available as a starter plant in our greenhouse
Guest blogger Jen Kostick is a Maryland Master Gardener and bonsai enthusiast. She has worked at Valley View Farms for about 5 years, in our greenhouse in the spring and our International Christmas Shop in the fall. Jen has been assisting our bonsai grower, Martha Meehan, with our monthly meetings and workshops for the last few years.

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