By Gary L. Wade
University of Georgia
Now, however, gardeners in the northern parts of the state can enjoy this gorgeous plant, too, thanks to Madison (Trachelospermum jasminoides 'Madison'). This cold-hardy cultivar is the 2007 Georgia Gold Medal winner for ornamental vines.
Madison is hardy throughout the U.S. Department of Agriculture hardiness zone 7. It may survive even in the zone 6 pocket of higher elevations in northeast Georgia.
Madison Confederate jasmine was introduced by Cedar Lane Farms in Madison, Ga. It has all the outstanding merits of the species with an added shot of antifreeze.
Michael Dirr, a University of Georgia horticulture professor and one of the nation's foremost authorities on ornamental plants, thinks Madison is actually a variety called "pubescens" because of the fuzzy pubescence under its leaves. The species leaves have smooth undersides.
Fast-growingMadison Confederate jasmine is a fast-growing, twining, evergreen vine reaching 20 to 40 feet at maturity. It needs help climbing, because it lacks the clinging aerial roots of some other vines. In time, it can cover a lattice screen, canopy or arbor with dense foliage and blooms.
It can be used as a groundcover, too. In fact, it requires less maintenance when it's allowed to trail along the ground instead of on an arbor. Just plant it where you can mow the edges to keep it contained.
Like clockwork each year (late April in Athens, Ga.), creamy-white, phlox-like flowers emerge and overshadow the foliage. The five-pointed, star-shaped flowers are borne on short stalks and in clusters at the leaf axils of the previous season's growth.
Soon after flowering, the plant will enter a vigorous growth phase. You'll have to prune and train it regularly during the summer to keep it in bounds. Low rates of fertilizer and conservative watering will help minimize this growth spurt.
Plant Madison Confederate jasmine in full sun or partial shade. It adapts readily to moist or dry soils but doesn't like wet sites. Pests aren't a problem.
(Gary Wade is a Cooperative Extension horticulturist with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.)