Jasmine conjures up images of long summer nights heavy with the scent of these vines. Not all plants called jasmine are true jasmines (Jasminum spp.). This is one time where it really pays to know the botanical name of the plant you want.
Several species of true jasmine have white flowers, including the common or poet's jasmine (J. officinale), which grows as a vine or a shrub. It's covered in fragrant white flowers all summer and fall. South African jasmine (J. angulare) is an evergreen vine with white, scentless flowers in summer. Spanish jasmine (J. grandiflorum) has fragrant white flowers and is semievergreen. The downy jasmine (J. multiflorum) gets its name from the soft coating on the stems and leaves that gives the plant a greenish-grey cast. Its flowers are lightly scented.
There is a red jasmine, although it's not often available. Beesianum jasmine (J. beesianum) is a semievergreen vine that reaches 10 to 16 feet. The fragrant, spring flowers are pink to rose red and are followed by black berries in fall and winter. Beesianum jasmine grows best in full sun.
The evergreen shrub red cestrum (Cestrum fasciculatum Newellii) is sometimes referred to as red jasmine but is a different plant altogether. This Mexican plant has tubular red flowers in clusters at the end of the branches and flowers in continuous cycles in frost-free areas. It's a good plant for drawing butterflies into your garden and prefers partially shaded locations.
A tropical plant commonly referred to as a red jasmine is the red frangipani (Plumeria rubra). Frangipanis develop into small trees covered in colourful, fragrant flowers.
The Chilean jasmine is a type of mandevilla (Mandevilla laxa), vining plants that bloom profusely throughout the summer. The white variety has 2-inch, trumpet-shaped flowers with a strong gardenia fragrance. Some retailers label the red Chilean mandevilla "Red Jasmine."
Bleeding Heart Vine
Sometimes called a red and white jasmine, the bleeding heart vine (Clerodendrum thomsoniae) grows to 15 feet tall and is loaded with red and white flowers from spring to fall. It grows best in partial shade. This evergreen vine has a loose, sprawling habit.
Common throughout the South, Confederate or star jasmine (Trachelospermum jasminoides) bears strongly-scented clusters of white flowers throughout spring and summer. This twining vine can reach up to 20 feet high or can be used as a sprawling ground cover. Confederate jasmine makes a good indoor plant for sunny windows.
The Asian star jasmine (Trachelospermum asiaticum) is a fast-growing groundcover. The small, yellowish-white flowers are not showy. Asian jasmine is drought and cold tolerant and grows into a thick, weed-free mat even in the shade. Mow it once in early spring to keep it a uniform height; set the mower's blade height to 3 or 4 inches.