Stephanotis floribunda

Stephanotis is a popular houseplant, grown for its glossy leaves and fragrant blossom from May to October. It thrives in a heated conservatory, but can equally make an attractive display in a warm, light room.

Stephanotis floribunda

Quick facts

Common name Madagascar jasmine, bridal wreath, floradora
Botanical name Stephanotis floribunda
Group Evergreen climber
Flowering time May to October
Planting time April
Height and spread Up to 3-6m (10-20ft)
Aspect Greenhouse or conservatory
Hardiness Tender (10ºC min)
Difficulty Moderate

Cultivation notes

While it is difficult to provide ideal conditions akin to the stephanotis’ native Madagascar, it is possible to get good results with care.

  • Grow plants in a well-lit situation, but shade from direct sunlight in summer. In the greenhouse, lightly shade the glass to prevent scorching
  • A summer temperature of 21ºC (70ºF) is ideal. Winter temperatures of between 13-15ºC (55-60ºF) are best, but plants will tolerate a low of 10ºC (50ºF)
  • Stephanotis requires high humidity levels and containerised plants should be placed on a gravel tray in summer. To create this, fill a tray, wider than the container, with gravel or expanded clay granules and keep the water level to just below the surface. In warm summers, lightly spray the foliage with water in the morning
  • Little growth is made during winter, so water sparingly, allowing the compost to dry slightly between waterings. Give plenty of water during the growing season (from April to October), allowing the excess water to drain away. Do not let the compost dry out completely
  • Feed fortnightly between April and October with a proprietary, high-potassium, liquid houseplant food

Compost and re-potting

  • Stephanotis requires a humus-rich, well-drained compost, such as John Innes No 2
  • Pot on annually in April, until the plant is in a 20-22.5cm (8-9in) pot
  • Once in a large container, re-pot every three years in March or April, using compost such as John Innes No 2
  • To grow a large specimen plant, it is best to plant in a greenhouse/conservatory bed measuring about 90cm (3ft) square. They do, however, show some degree of tolerance to root restriction, where space is limited

Pruning and training

Little pruning or training is required, but there are a few things worth carrying out:

  • Cut out all weak lateral growth at the end of February
  • Train shoots along strings, wires or to a framework of canes
  • To reduce the size of the plant, cut lateral growth back to 7.5cm (3in) and shorten leading shoots by half their length
  • Heavy pruning to renovate old plants is seldom successful and replacement is usually required

Propagation

There are two methods of propagation that work well with stephanotis:

Cuttings

Stephanotis can be propagated from cuttings at any time of the year, but it is usually most succesful between April to June.

  • Take 10cm (4in) cuttings with two or three nodes, from non-flowering shoots, produced the previous season. Cuttings of stem tips also do well
  • Insert cuttings into a mixture of equal parts peat-free compost and sand
  • Maintain at 18-21°C (64-70°F) with high humidity and shade in warm weather to prevent scorch. A heated propagator is useful for this task. Alternatively, try placing cuttings in a plastic bag loosely tied at the top and positioned on a bright (not sunny) windowsill
  • When rooted (four to six weeks), plant into 10cm (4in) pots using John Innes No 2.

Seed

Stephanotis occasionally produce pear-like fruit 10cm (4in) long. These may take 12 months to ripen and, if necessary, can be picked and placed in a warm spot to ripen.

  • When the seeds are ripe, the fruit will begin to split. Ease the two halves apart to reveal a silken sheath enclosing the seeds in the centre of the fruit. Even after several months, the plume-attached seeds may be a little moist, but will soon dry when exposed to the air and can become airbourne with the slightest movement
  • Sow the seed fresh using a general-purpose, seed compost and maintain at 21-24°C (70-75°F). If you are unable to provide heat and good light (such as in winter), keep the seed cool and sow in April
  • When large enough to handle, prick out the seedlings into John Innes No 1 compost or other good potting medium

Cultivar Selection

Stephanotis floribunda AGM: Woody-stemmed, twining climber to 3m (10ft), with mid-dark green leaves contrasting with the highly fragrant, slender-tubed clusters of white flowers.
Stephanotis floribunda variegated: This form is similar to the species in all respects except that it has variegated leaves. This plant is not widely offered for sale, unfortunately.

Links

RHS Plant Selector
RHS Plant Finder
RHS Trials and AGMs

Problems

Stephanotis suffers from some common houseplant problems.

  • Pests: susceptible to scale insect, red spider mite, mealybug and root mealybug
  • Lack of flowering: may be caused by low humidity or insufficient summer warmth, but may also be due to unsuitable winter treatment. Keep plants cool in winter – between 13-16°C (55-61°F) – and water sparingly. Poor general growing conditions and lack of feeding may also be factors
  • Flower bud drop: extreme changes in growing conditions, either over or under watering, extreme high or low temperatures or lack of humidity may cause the flower buds to drop
  • Yellowing and dropping of leaves: this may follow waterlogging or very low temperatures. Lack of feeding will cause a general yellowing of the leaves without dropping. Plants should show green rapidly after foliar feeding

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  • Garden gate avatar

    By Garden gate on 19/05/2014

    Hello. I bought a wonderful Floradora last summer, as I was sold on its incredible blooms and aroma. The plant was growing beautifully on a wire hoop, and lasted through most of the summer with its blooms. I looked after it over the winter and at the start of the growing season a few weeks ago, it started to grow. I helped it to continue growing along the wire frame, but sadly when I wound some of the new growth around the frame about 3 weeks ago, the new growth snapped off. Since then, there has been no growth at all, and no new stem has emerged. What shall I do to create a new stem to grow? Many thanks for any help/advice.

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  • Gold Top avatar

    By Gold Top on 22/05/2014

    Our wonderful Laburnum, already leaning under a heavy burden of flowers, took on the early morning rain and collapsed. There remains a split trunk which can be neatened with a saw but will said remaining stump throw new growth like sycamore or cherry. Or have we sadly lost it?

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  • spotty avatar

    By spotty on 23/05/2014

    Should the RHS Chelsea Flower Show be renamed the RHS Chelsea Sculpture Show or the RHS Chelsea Concrete Show ?