How to espalier Chinese Star Jasmines

Best climber | right plant

Chinese Star Jasmines (Trachelospermum jasminoides) are the best climber to train along wires because you can keep them bushy along the entire length of the wire. Other climbers tend to climb towards the sunshine and bush out unevenly, and on top. Chinese Star Jasmines are also evergreen, so they hold their structure year round, and have fragrant white flowers in summer.

Wirework specifications

First install your wires against a fence or wall in the pattern you want to achieve.

I always recommend to customers to use all stainless steel wires and fittings, which are more expensive but last longer and don’t kink, rust or break. Remember, this is a long term project!

You can pick up DIY wirework kits online or ask a local landscaper, builder or steel engineer to supply and install them for you. They have the right tools to complete the job to a high standard. You don’t want the wires to pull out from the fence, and you want them to be tight and strong. You will need to add tighteners to the wires, so you can tighten them over time.

Install double wires ie 2 wires running in parallel, 150mm apart, 100mm out from the fence. Design big shapes and allow for the vine to grow approx. 400mm wide, allowing for negative space to see the pattern.

You need to set them approx. 100mm off from the fence or wall, to allow enough air space for the vines to freely twine around the wires. If they are too close to the fence, the vines become bruised, collect leaf litter, and become insect prone.

Double wires create a more uniform, better defined line, for larger patterns. You could do single wires for smaller, tighter patterns but the line will be thinner and more sketchy.

 

Situation | sun or shade

Chinese Star Jasmines suit a wide range of conditions in temperate climates. They are equally happy planted in sun or shade.

Top tips for getting off to a good start

When you plant your jasmines, I always recommend to clients to use larger, older plants. Younger plants (in Wellington) can be very slow growing and, for some reason, they stand still and don't want to grow for several years. For this reason, I supply larger, older, stronger plants approx. 1m tall which should put on 0.5m growth a year. They should get your espalier off to a good start and save several years of waiting. Plant one jasmine at every base point of your pattern, where the pattern is closest to the soil. You can split the jasmine vines across the different wires.

Different climbers, climb in different ways and directions. Chinese Star Jasmines climb by twining. They prefer to twine around wires, rather than trellis which is too wide. And they twine in an anti-clockwise direction. So if you train them the wrong way around a wire, they will resist, and not grow as well or as fast. If you train them in the right direction, they should grow, sometimes by themselves, along the wire very happily.

 

The best time to prune

 

I hard prune mine in late winter, before they put on their spring growth, and back to double leaf joints, one or 2 joints from the main stem. Enjoy the flowers over summer; and then I hard prune them again about a month after flowering has finished, being careful to select the long tendrils that I want to grow along the wires and form the core structure; and trimming the other shoots back to double leaf joints to keep the pattern uniform (approx 400mm wide), neat and tidy. I use snips, not hedge trimmers, and I avoid cutting through the leaves. It's more time consuming, but it gives a better, lusher finish.

Trouble shooting:

If you use larger plants, and they are twining in the right direction, set off the fence 100mm, then they should be fine.

  • Note, their leaves can turn red in cooler weather and winter. They will green up again when the weather warms up.

  • They are susceptible to an insect called scale, particularly when they are under stress. Scale looks like little black limpets on leaves and stems, and they leave a black sooty mold on the leaves. You can scrape off individual scales with your finger nail when you spot them; or spray bad infestations with a systemic insecticide and conqueror oil. Contact spray won’t work.

 

 

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