Stephanotis, a deliciously fragrant vine


Stephanotis, the most famous of which is called Madagascar jasmine, is a magnificent indoor plant that blooms all summer long.

Key facts about Stephanotis

Name – Stephanotis species
Family – Apocynceae or dogbane
Type – vine, indoor plant

Height – 10 to 16 feet (3 to 5 meters)
Exposure – well-lit
Soil – indoor plant soil mix

Foliage – evergreen – Flowering – May to October

Planting stephanotis

In our climates, only potted growing is possible for Stephanotis because it can’t bear the cold. This is true for all the species of Stephanotis.

Growing stephanotis in pots

If potted, it is advised to re-pot every 1 or 2 years, preferably in spring.

Pots provided upon purchase quickly become too small: re-pot your stephanotis as soon as their blooming is over.

  • Once in place, avoid changing its location because it hates being transferred from one spot to the next.
  • Refer to our guidelines on how to repot your stephanotis.

Growing stephanotis outdoors

Stephanotis is native to Madagascar, and therefore requires temperatures of at least 68°F (20°C) all year-round to thrive.

  • It’ll start dying if temperatures drop below 55°F (13°C).

When growing directly in the ground, temperatures must be high in both summer and winter and planting is done in spring.

Growing and caring for potted Stephanotis

Choose a very well-lit space for your stephanotis, but not in direct sunlight behind a window.

  • StephanotisAvoid heat sources such as radiators.
  • Protect the plant from direct sunlight during the hotter hours if placed behind a window.
  • The temperature must never drop below 60°F (15°C).
  • You can bring your potted Stephanotis outside from late spring to early autumn, keeping an eye on the temperature.

Stephanotis in winter

Winter care for Stephanotis in a pot

Best is to bring the pot in from the cold to a lean-in or cool greenhouse.

If your plant customarily lives indoors inside a heated house or apartment, it will appreciate a phase of rest over the winter months in a cooler spot instead of the hot, dry indoor air.

Temperatures shouldn’t drop below 57°F (13°C) for extended periods, and any bout of frost will kill the vine.

Ideally, your Stephanotis will go dormant if you keep it in a 57° to 60°F (13 to 15°C) range. In winter, water your potted Stephanotis only when the soil is dry, without adding any fertilizer.

Caring for outdoor Stephanotis in winter

If ever winter is cold in your area (below 50°F / 10°C), it’ll take a miracle for your Stephanotis to survive.

  • The only options to protect your outdoor Stephanotis from the cold is either to uproot your stephanotis to a pot and bring it indoors as described above,
  • or, if you’ve already got the materials at hand, to set up a temporary heated greenhouse around it!

Transferring to a pot is by far the most economical solution. However,  it’s also more difficult when the shrub has grown to several feet or more in height. You’ll have to bring the trellis or stake along with the plant and root clump. The bigger the plant, the higher the risk of it dying of transplant shock.

  • One solution could be to plant your Stephanotis with a pot-in-pot strategy to make it easier to pull out and protect.

The Stephanotis plant will work on renewing its root system during fall and winter, and it’ll be ready for being replanted out in the open come late spring!

Watering and fertilizing Stephanotis

To flower well and grow, a Stephanotis plant requires a bit of care as regards watering and fertilizer.

Water regularly but not too much, to avoid suffocating roots.

  • Watering 1 time a week should be enough.
  • Adding liquid flower plant fertilizer every fortnight will enhance the blooming and growth.

Your stephanotis will require a lot of moisture because its natural habitat is forest underbrush.

  • Spray soft water on the leaves often.

When potted, stephanotis needs a lot of moisture and likes being placed on a bed of constantly moist gravel or clay marbles, since this recreates its natural environment.

Stephanotis after flowering

The usual blooming season for Stephanotis extends from May to October-November.

After blooming, its is best to give your plant a “rest” for it to go dormant: place it in a cooler but well-lit room.

  • Ideal temperatures are around 68 to 70° F (20 to 21° C) in summer and 57 to 60°F (13 to 15°C) during the rest phase (usually winter).

During the dormancy, all addition of nutrients must be stopped, and you should only water if the soil in the pot is dry.

Pruning stephanotis

Early spring, you can prune the vine without restraint to let it grow back even better and ensure it will bloom again.

Deadheading Stephanotis

If it’s easily accessible, go ahead and remove dead or spent flowers. This will trigger the plant into producing more.

  • Deadheading will extend the blooming by a couple weeks or more.

Fruits on Stephanotis

If you don’t deadhead, you might discover, usually after several years, a plum-shaped pod growing on your vine.

  • This isn’t a plant disease or an insect gall – it’s a fruit!

The pod of the Stephanotis vine is surprising and its seeds are rather exciting…

Learn more about stephanotis

The most common species of Stephanotis is Stephanotis floribunda, or Madagascar jasmine. In that country, it can be found outdoors in the wild among other plants in forest underbrush. It is used in temperate climates as an indoor plant. Other species are native either to the Caribbean or to the Far East (Japan, Malaysia).

All Stephanotis species smell somewhat of jasmine. Generally, they grow as fragrant vines that offer deep dark green leaves, leathery and shiny. They bloom from spring to fall with flowers that appear at the junction of each leaf.

Usually, a stake or arbor is provided to help grow upright, because the vine cannot stand straight on its own.

Stephanotis shares its fragrance with another plant that is related to it: Plumeria. Both boast beautiful white five-petaled flowers. Their fragrance is heavenly when it spreads through the air!

Problems with your Stephanotis

Insects? Yellow leaves? Sticky gobs forming on leaves? Worse yet – no flowers?

Smart tip about Stephanotis

Adding flower plant organic fertilizer will enhance its bloom.

Images: CC BY 2.0: Scott Hecker