Tabernaemontana divaricata – Crape Jasmine – Ajaytao
Common name: Crape jasmine, Moonbeam, Carnation of India
Botanical name: Tabernaemontana divaricata
Hindi: Chandni चांदनी , Tagar तगर, Tagari तगरी
Gujarati: Sagar • Marathi: Ananta, Tagar
Family: Apocynaceae (Oleander family)
Synonyms: Tabernaemontana citrifolia, Tabernaemontana coronaria,
Crape jasmine, a shrub very common in India, generally grows to a height of 6 ft. However, it can also grow into a small tree with a thin, crooked stem. Like many members of the Oleander family, stems exude a milky latex when broken. The large shiny leaves are deep green and are 6 or more inches in length and about 2 inches in width. Crape jasmine blooms in spring but flowers appear sporadically all year. The waxy blossoms are white five-petaled pinwheels that are borne in small clusters on the stem tips. This plant is a moderate grower for full to part sun, though it actually prefers partial shade and will flower there. Its ultimate height is about 8 feet tall with a 6 foot wide top.
The crape jasmine tree – with its pretty form and exquisite, sweetly-scented flowers – makes a wonderful accent anywhere in the landscape…even in part shade. Sometimes spelled “crepe jasmine” – or called “cape jasmine” – these are actually shrubs that can be used as hedges or specimen plants in bush form, but as a small ornamental tree of 8 feet or less they’re at their best.
With its ruffled-edge, white double flowers, this plant creates a big show of blossoms in spring and then blooms on and off through summer. Their fragrance is stronger by evening, making this a desirable small tree near a patio, screened lanai or pool cage.
Similar in looks (though the fragrance is different) to gardenias, crapes can be somewhat easier care – more cold-tolerant and less prone to insect invasions.
Evergreen with large, shiny, deep green leaves, this jasmine (though not a “true” jasmine – at one time everything with a sweet-smelling flower was called jasmine) is moderately cold hardy, doing best in Zone 10A and warmer areas of Zone 9B.
Plant with either top soil or organic peat moss in combination with composted cow manure as soil amendments. The crape jasmine tree needs regular waterings. Trim occasionally to shape.
Flowers are commonly used in pooja (Religious ceremony) in north and south India. A jasmine tree can be placed close to the house – as near as 3 or 4 feet away. If you’re planting a row or grouping, place them 3 to 5 feet apart. Give it a spot sheltered from winter winds. Though a colder winter may defoliate the plant, it should flush back out in spring.
Blooms: Mid Spring, Late Spring, Early Summer. Blooms repeatedly.
Crapes will grow in large containers as long as watering is regular and sufficient.