I hope you have a chance to visit with mom this Mother’s Day either in person or via a tele-visit. This past year has been challenging, and a hug, even a virtual one, from mom or the person who stands for mom can fix all manner of ailments and woes. Think of a gift of jasmine for mom and her garden to remind her of all that is sweet.
A visit with mom on her day isn’t complete without flowers. A basket of flowers for mom may seem a bit uninspired. However, what mom can resist a basket full of color for her garden? Add a promise to plant them for her. Consider a gift of an Arabian Jasmine or Jasminum sambac shrub for her landscape or patio. Its flowers scent the air, are fabulous in her cup of tea, and provide elegant edible flowers for a salad or luscious dessert.
Arabian Jasmine flowers have been cultivated for centuries to make tea and perfume. Varieties of Arabian Jasmine are the National Flower of the Philippines and Indonesia and are used to make leis in Hawaii in addition to being consumed.
A member of the Olive family, Jasminum sambac grows in USDA Hardiness Zones 8 – 11. The form is a bit wild and can produce long branches that can be supported for a vine-like form or pruned for a more compact shrub. The plants are adaptable to light and grow in full sun or shade; they are lovely container plants for the patio or locations where the winter is cold. A freeze will cause damage, but the roots are hardy and often regrow. The preference is for well-draining soil with regular applications of water.
Exquisite fragrant flowers are produced sporadically throughout the year but most abundantly in the hot summer months. They are variable in form according to variety. The blooms are waxy, often white, and funnel-shaped with one or multiple layers of petals. The flowers can be collected if plants are grown without landscape chemicals and used either fresh or dried for homemade jasmine tea, jasmine-scented sweets, and delightful salads.
To make jasmine tea pick the flowers when they are tightly closed and during the hottest part of the day. As the flowers cool and dry, they open to emit their spectacular fragrance. The scent and flavor of the jasmine are transferred by touch; mix the fresh or dried blooms with tea leaves, so all the tea is in contact with the flowers for 24 hours. This process may be repeated several times for stronger scents and flavors.
Jasminum sambac can be slightly invasive in South and Central Florida. Bring or send mom a potted specimen for her patio or porch and set a date to spend time with her enjoying her company with a cup of homemade jasmine tea.
This column first appeared in the Treasure Coast Newspapers.