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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
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  • Susan wrote on 13 February 2022 at 10 h 31 min

    Can you email me directly. I am 72 and getting info via web is a major challenge. I live in Hawaii. I bought potted stephanotis to grow along my chainlink fence (for privacy). I need know how deep the roots grow as I learned there is a water pipe line about a foot below the fence line. I do not want their roots to cause a major water pipe breakage. How deep are the rootings? Should I just keep stephanotis in pots against the fence?

    • Gaspard wrote on 16 February 2022 at 12 h 15 min

      Hi Susan, sure, here is what I’m emailing you: usually, Stephanotis roots are surface roots. They don’t often reach much deeper than 8-10 inches (20-25 cm). That’s what makes them compatible with growing in pots and hanging suspensions in the first place. However, nature also notes what is around it: if the pipe has a leak, then roots will aim for it.

      Note, though, that the Stephanotis won’t cause the leak in the first place. It’ll only serve as a revealer of eventual leaks: if the soil stays soggy, this will kill your stephanotis…

      If the pipe really runs lengthwise along the fence, though, digging all the holes with a spade might damage the pipe, especially if it’s plastic versus steel. If you fear the odd spade strike might damage the underlying pipe, you’re better off either raising the soil around your fence with a few hollow blocks, loose bricks, logs or the like, or using pots as you suggested.

      • Susan from Hawaii wrote on 27 February 2022 at 22 h 27 min

        Thank you for your response to my concern Gaspard. Sorry it took so long to say thank you! I am so relieved by your answer. It will help me to decide what to do next. Mahalo, Susa

  • APOORVA VISHWANATH wrote on 28 June 2021 at 13 h 01 min

    Hii… I live in Germany and its just been a week I bought this plant….. the flowers have dried and fallen…. also saw leaves getting yellow so I shifted it to a brighter spot… hope this works but will the flowers bloom back????? I really want to see the flowers back again….

    • Gaspard wrote on 29 June 2021 at 3 h 32 min

      Hello Apoorva, it isn’t a surprise: stephanotis really doesn’t like change, so when you brought it in from the store it interrupted its blooming. It’s rather common, sad to say, but don’t despair: it will sprout new flowers once it settles in well. What you can do for it is make sure there isn’t too much wind/drafts in the place you put it, let it have lots of light, preferably thanks to reflection against a white wall or surface. For instance, you can use white gravel for mulch in the pot.

      Did you repot the plant? Often, stores wait until just before they would need to repot before selling the plant. And since it’s already just lost its flowers, a little more “stress” due to repotting won’t do any further damage and your plant will be primed for later on.

      Also make sure you find ways to increase moisture around the plant: spray the leaves with distilled water (the one for ironing clothes) and follow some of the other tips in this article on air moisture. You can also have another plant next to it that needs a lot of water, so that moisture will be released, like a papyrus plant. Once it’s stabilized, it’ll start blooming again, especially since it’s still Summer in your area.

  • Paulina wrote on 23 March 2021 at 20 h 17 min

    Hi! Ive got an issue with my stephanotis. it came as a present in a pot, shaped over a wire – but not in any position to grow longer, so after it stopped popping flowers I repotted it with a coconut something stick so it can grow longer and higher. The problem is… it’s not growing. It’s been two months since I got it and it just hasnt grown at all. No new leaves whatsoever. It’s alive and looking healthy though so I don’t know how to interpret this as I reeeeaaaaally wanted it to grow bigger.

    • Gaspard wrote on 24 March 2021 at 3 h 26 min

      Hi Paulina, it’s quite normal for plants to “stay put” for a few months after repotting, especially a delicate one like Stephanotis. This particular plant doesn’t much like change. There’s often a lull in visible growth after repotting because the focus is on underground growth: repairing damaged roots and expanding the root network to the fresh potting soil. In your case, what’s important is to remember to give it a little bit of flower plant fertilizer every two weeks. Don’t up the dosage, what matters here is the regularity. After settling in, your steph should start producing new leaves and shoots.

      Lastly, it might be the season, if you’re in the Southern Hemisphere: winter is a time of dormancy due to lower light levels. Growth slows down by a lot, even for indoor plants.

  • margaret wrote on 19 November 2020 at 6 h 39 min

    I live in Melbourne Aust. My Steph has been growing now for about 5 years on the fence, blooms are wonderful every year through shear neglect after reading what should be done.

    • Gaspard wrote on 19 November 2020 at 12 h 01 min

      It’s a plant that is hard to please, but when it’s happy, it shows! Luckily, conditions seem perfect on your fence, so just keep on doing nothing at all!

  • Evelyn wrote on 3 August 2020 at 20 h 22 min

    hello. I have a stephanotis planted outside. My question is do I just let the spent flowers fall off and leave the little stems on the plant? Or should I “deadhead” the cluster of stems the flowers fell off of? Thank you

    • Gaspard wrote on 4 August 2020 at 10 h 41 min

      Hi Evelyn, deadheading will boost the plant and it’ll produce more blooms. If you’re curious, though, you can try and leave one cluster intact: there’s the chance of growing a seed pod which means you can start stephanotis seedlings from seed, for gifts or to plant elsewhere in the garden! It might depend on where you live, though, since not all climates are warm enough for the seed pod to ripen.

  • Katy wrote on 25 July 2020 at 21 h 40 min

    I had my Stephanotis for Christmas and was still flowering beautifully. Sadly most of the leaves have now turned brown and fallen off and it looks really sad. A lot of the vine has also turned yellow. I think I over watered it at one point. Is there any way of reviving it? It came climbing around a wire hoop. Can this be changed for something else? Thanks!

    • Gaspard wrote on 27 July 2020 at 13 h 54 min

      Hi Katy! Well, the vine is seasonal to a point and it’s also very sensitive to change of environment. If you’ve overwatered it, the best option is to let the pot dry until the soil feels dusty, before watering again. Make sure drainage is excellent, meaning water should flow out of the bottom of the pot. If you need a saucer to protect furniture, spread a layer of gravel or clay pebbles between pot and saucer so that the bottom of the pot doesn’t sit in water.

      Stephanotis vine loves air moisture, so any betterment in that direction will help it out for sure! Here are a few tips on air moisture for plants.

      You might need to prune your stephanotis somewhat to give it a chance to bounce back. Not entirely, but perhaps cut stems back by one-third.

      You can of course replace the wire hoop by anything else you find appealing. Careful when removing it: underground, roots might be wrapped up around it. It’s ok to remove them delicately (actually a good thing to pull the plant out and replace soil with something that drains better since it was overwatered). Add river sand for instance (sea sand is too salty and can only be used after letting it wash out for a few months in the rain).

      • Katy wrote on 27 July 2020 at 15 h 19 min

        Thanks! It’s in a separate pot that it drains into, but I didn’t realise how full that was until I realised it was bobbing about!

        Ok fab! Shall I just cut back the part of the vine that’s turned yellow then? It seems to have wrapped itself around this hoop (which thankfully isn’t in the soil itself, but clipped into the pot) a few times

      • Gaspard wrote on 27 July 2020 at 17 h 58 min

        My goodness, indeed! When it’s yellowing from the stem it definitely isn’t a good sign…

        At this point what I think is that:

        – remove the pot cover. It looks like it’s full of water in there! For a while, only use a saucer as I described in the answer on the post.

        – pull the plant out from its pot delicately, working in a basin to catch soil. Loosen the clump up to aerate the soil somewhat, and let it dry out while still in the basin for a day.

        – the next day, prepare fresh soil mix to which you add 1/3rd sand or clay pebbles.

        – repot the plant in its pot with this super-draining soil mix, without watering yet. Some weak rotten roots might break off, it’s to be expected, but do try to work delicately.

        – after a week, give it just half a cup of water (10 ml). Do this every week for a month and a half.

        If the plant is to survive, it’ll probably send off a new shoot from somewhere along the woody stem so be on the lookout for buds. You’ll then be able to twirl it along the hoop, which I recommend you keep at this point. All leaves now will fall off, you can cut them now. The yellow stem won’t make it either, but leave it there to see if a portion can make it or not.

        If nothing happens for 6 weeks, consider it a goner…

        Hope this helps!

  • Aldo wrote on 9 July 2020 at 10 h 05 min

    My stephanotis is doing great, I live in a hot and humid island Malta and it has a few good hours of direct sunlight, temp from 22 to 34c I most it almost daily it grew high as 12 feet in a few years although its out doors it’s in a pot this years has bloomed the most, wish I can upload a photo

    • Gaspard wrote on 11 July 2020 at 20 h 06 min

      My, that really sounds like a wonderful specimen!

  • Kim wrote on 19 February 2020 at 4 h 06 min

    Why is my Madagascar climbing Jasmine flowering in the past 2 months of wintertime? It’s an indoor plant & getting proper light, etc.

    • Gaspard wrote on 19 February 2020 at 4 h 43 min

      It’s quite possible for a Madagascar jasmine to bloom in winter. It means the conditions are good! Sometimes the blooming is a bit out of sync with the natural spring-summer blooming because the plant actually comes from another part of the world. For example, many plants sold in nurseries in the Northern hemisphere are cultivated in the Southern hemisphere. If the conditions are right (warmth, watering and moisture), it will go ahead and bloom as if it was in summer – on the other side of the world!

      If however you meant that your Madagascar jasmine wasn’t blooming, then apart from light, some of the most important considerations are temperature and moisture. Ensuring proper moisture in the close environment of the plant will help trigger blooming.

  • Jane Dickson wrote on 30 December 2019 at 4 h 20 min

    Hello, my M. Jasmine had a dark brown disease on the stems & back of leaves. It seems to be trail like in appearance. I cut it right back in Spring, & is growing back beautifully now, except this disease has reappeared again on one of the new shoots.
    Could you please tell me what this is & how to treat it?
    Thank you, Jane.

    • Gaspard wrote on 30 December 2019 at 6 h 53 min

      Hi Jane! I just sent you a message. I’ll need a few pictures to be able to try to identify this!

      • Gaspard wrote on 23 January 2020 at 9 h 56 min

        Hello Jane! Your pictures were well-received, thank you. I’ve narrowed the culprit down to thrips. Thrips parasites are among the only ones to produce the kind of damage you’ve had on your Madagascar Jasmine. It’s impossible to say which thrips species this would be, but probably one of the Terebrantia sub-order. There are a few natural tips against thrips you can apply.

  • Anna Blyth wrote on 22 September 2019 at 10 h 27 min

    I have a 10 year old stephanotis vine growing from a large pot up a very large wall in Madeira. It now only flowers at the very top, the lower branches being completely bare. Should I repot it in fresh compost and can I cut back to around 18″ in the hope it will regrow and produce flowers next year?

    • Gaspard wrote on 22 September 2019 at 23 h 02 min

      Hi Anna! Repotting in fresh compost will always help, that’s for sure. As for the pruning, here is something that I hope will help you:
      Pruning back large stephanotis. Hope it helps!

  • Kenneth Wakelen wrote on 19 November 2018 at 16 h 52 min

    my stephanotis has developed a large plum shaped bulb have you any idea what this could be

    • maud Ingham wrote on 3 September 2019 at 4 h 45 min

      My Stephanotis has been in a pot for 40 years [repotted many times]. It flowers magnificently and last year for the first time it had 5 fruit pods! It lives outside all year around in a sheltered corner. I live in N.Z

      • Gaspard Lorthiois wrote on 3 September 2019 at 12 h 43 min

        That’s swell! It’s a wonderful flower and when it goes to seed it’s always exciting. I’m astounded at how long you’ve been caring for your stephanotis, congratulations! Getting it to bear fruit means you’re taking excellent care of it.

    • Gaspard Lorthiois wrote on 19 November 2018 at 17 h 52 min

      Hi Kenneth! That sounds interesting – I’ll send you an email so you can forward a few pictures, if you’d like me to check.

      • Gaspard Lorthiois wrote on 20 November 2018 at 16 h 16 min

        Having seen the pictures, it seems you’re the proud owner of a stephanotis fruit pod!

  • Jane Azzopardi wrote on 27 September 2018 at 19 h 44 min

    Should Stefanotis be fed with iron at any time please?

    • Gaspard Lorthiois wrote on 1 October 2018 at 11 h 38 min

      Hello Jane! No, there’s no particular reason or point in adding iron to the soil for your stephanotis.
      Iron is naturally available in garden soil, and if conditions are normal it’s very easy for the plants to get the dose they need without having to add any.
      Only exceptions are if ever the soil is very alkaline (pH levels higher than 7.5), because iron gets harder to absorb by plants. Adding iron in this case helps, but you should try to deal with the root cause of the high pH itself because alkaline soil isn’t a good growing medium for your stephanotis. Mulch with organic matter will work towards bringing your pH to ideal levels naturally and iron supplements won’t be needed!

  • tony denvir wrote on 9 September 2018 at 14 h 21 min

    Hi, I have had my stehanotis in a pot for around 2 years and no flowers, so I planted it in my garden, it has taken off this year lots of flowers and now is over 6 feet tall, will it last over winter?

    • Gaspard Lorthiois wrote on 10 September 2018 at 10 h 16 min

      Hi Tony! Thanks for your question, happy to know your Stephanotis just needed to be set free to grow wild! I think you’re in the UK, so sad to say, it’s virtually impossible for your stephanotis to survive outdoors… Options would be to transplant it back to a pot, you can read this article specifically for stephanotis. Another is to try to provide it with shelter, but since it must be heated to between 13-15°C, that isn’t something that is easy to do.
      I wish I could tell you it could be protected and such, but that wouldn’t be true. But simply try returning it to the pot for winter, I’m sure it’ll survive and you can have flowers again in the same manner next year! Just be sure to prune it well as you do this. Hope it makes it!