Stephanotis, solve its problems to get those flowers back!

Symptoms and treatments for common madagascar jasmine problems: pests, insects, yellow leaves, no blooming

Stephanotis often falls sick because of diseases and pests. This mostly happens at the beginning: in time, you’ll strike the perfect balance between water, sun and fertilizer and your plant willresist all these problems! This beautiful and deliciously fragrant vine is a little more difficult to care for than other houseplants. But keeping it pest and disease free is well worth the effort with its beautiful fragrant blooms!

Pests attacking Stephanotis

Scale insects and mealybugs

If a cottony white substance starts covering your stephanotis leaves, a scale insect colony has appeared. Occasionally, “armored scale” appears: these have a shell which they glue to the leaves (example of armored scale on this ZZ plant).

White dots on stems and leaf joints, silvery patches on leaves

Symptoms of thrips on stephanotis include silver patchesThrips are colonizing your stephanotis.

Small webs form with tiny red spiders

Stephanotis can also be colonized by mites and ticks such as red spider mites, especially when the surrounding air is too dry.

Flower and leaf buds covered with bugs

Aphids invade stephanotis flower budsAphids is most certainly what you’re dealing with.

Several aphid varieties have Madagascar jasmine as one of their host plants.

Yellow leaves on Madagascar jasmine

Leaves turn yellow on a stephanotis plant for either of three reasons: overwatering, the water used for watering is too hard, or the plant lacks light.

Overwatering

Yellow leaves are very often a symptom of overwateringToo much water leads to plant root rot. Fungus such as phytophthora infect the plant and kill it. Symptoms? Leaves turn soft and floppy, then start turning yellow, usually from the stem outwards.

You can try to recover the plant by

  • not watering anymore until the soil is dry
  • changing the soil and/or repotting the plant to give it fresh, non-contaminated soil to use
  • ensure excellent drainage. No stagnant water!

These tips will help surviving portions of the plant get healthier. From there, train the growth again to replace what has died off.

Water is too hard

If you use tapwater to water, perhaps it’s too hard.

If you only have tap water, then prepare it with the following steps:

  • Boil the water in a kettle. Deposits usually form in the kettle, which is the hardness being removed. Transfer the water to a bottle, sieving deposits away with a tissue or coffee filter. Let it cool down for a day before use.
  • In a gallon jug of hard water, add half a teaspoon of vinegar or citric acid. Shake well, let sit for a day, and use for watering.

Lack of light

Light must be plentiful but not direct. Indeed, in the wild, Stephanotis is a vine that climbs up trees and such. It rarely gets direct light, at most for a half-hour or so as the sun shines through the shade.

  • Give it a bit more light.
  • Try not to place it in direct sunlight. Either add a thin curtain, or place it where light reflects off a white wall.

Madagascar jasmine not flowering

Is your Stephanotis not flowering? This happens when the plant isn’t yet in an ideal growing environment. It’s a very picky plant.

Try the following:

  • Mist the leaves or rest the pot atop a tray with clay pebbles doused in water. Consider other ways to increase air moisture.
  • Bring it outside in spring through summer, but shelter it from wind. A marked difference between warm days and cool nights helps trigger blooming.
  • Try planting it outside for the warm season. Extra root space combined with day/night cycles have a positive impact. This has worked before! You’ll have to uproot it for winter, though.
  • It might take a couple years – young, newly propagated plants commonly only bloom in their second, third or even fourth year.

When bought from a nursery, blooming Stephanotis will often drop their flowers in a matter of weeks. They then need a long time to recover and adjust to their new growing environment. This is normal, and you’ll have to be patient! Don’t lose hope, however. As long as the plant looks healthy and is producing new growth, then it’ll come around and flower again.


Credits for images shared to Nature & Garden (all edits by Gaspard Lorthiois):
Symptoms of stephanotis problems by Jane Dickson,
Nature & Garden contributor
Stephanotis leaf with spots by Jane Dickson,
Nature & Garden contributor
Aphids on buds by Scot Nelson under Public Domain
Yellowing leaves by Katy Maloney,
Nature & Garden contributor