Jasmine vs. Turf

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Asiatic jasmine, also called "Dwarf Confederate jasmine" or "small leaf Confederate jasmine," has been grown as a ground cover in Florida landscapes for decades. Its not a grass, but a multi-stem, vine-like woody plant. Unlike other plants which also have "jasmine" as part of their common names, such as Confederate and Star jasmine, Asiatic jasmine is a true ground cover; its numerous prostrate stems and leaves eventually blanket the ground, forming a thick mat. Asiatic jasmine does not produce a noticeable flower, and cannot be grown from seed. Like many landscape plants, it is propagated by rooting stem cuttings.

Asiatic jasmine is much more drought-tolerant than most turfgrasses, and is cold tolerant, remaining green even after hard freezes. Asiatic jasmine is also very shade-tolerant, growing in deep shade where grass will not grow. It grows in full sun as well, but prefers some shade, especially in South Florida. Asiatic jasmines are reported to grow on most soils; however, growth is slow and plant health declines in soil pHs above 8.0.

Asiatic jasmine forms a thick mat that blankets the ground. The ground cover is more tolerant of drought than most turfgrasses, and resists weeds and pests.

Asiatic jasmine has few pest or disease problems, and rarely, if ever, requires pesticides. Occassional leaf spots caused by Cercospora have been observed, but the level of damage is rarely signficant. When used as a turf replacement, Asiatic jasmine will perform best with minimal water and fertilization inputs. Once established, Asiatic jasmine requires no irrigation with normal rainfall. In extreme droughts, once monthly irrigation is suggested if no rainfall occurs. It is not picky about the type of fertilizer, but responds to fertilization with vigorous growth. To help plants become established, "Your Florida Landscape" by R. Black and K. Ruppert recommends fertilizer be applied 3 or 4 times during the year at a rate of 1 pound nitrogen per 1000 ft2. After establishment, plants should be fertilized only once a year, when bud break occurs in early spring, with 1 pound of nitrogen per 1000 ft2.

Due to its prostrate growth form, Asiatic jasmine does not have to be mowed, although it is highly recommended that it be mowed once a year as new growth begins to occur in late winter. It should be mowed at the highest mower setting, preferably 3 to 4 inches. Mowing limits the height of the ground cover and promotes a more uniform appearance. It also allows more air movement within the ground cover canopy, reducing the risk of disease development during extended rainy periods. Asiatic jasmines are somewhat susceptible to Rhizoctonia if the canopy is dense, shaded, and kept wet through extended rain periods or frequent supplemental irrigation. Mowing will destroy most of the green foliage, but it will quickly return in a couple of weeks as buds break dormancy and grow. When NOT actively growing, Asiatic jasmine is  quite tolerant of "Roundup Original" (no surfactant added)  herbicide applications. It can be sprayed with a low rate (1 oz per gallon) to kill any weeds and not be damaged although once plants are established, weeds are rarely a problem.



Asiatic jasmine can grow in full sun or in deep shade, where turfgrass will not grow. In South Florida, it prefers partial to full shade.