Returning to school this August, I discovered a redesigned landscape around the Parish Hall and school. I was happy to see a section planted with asiatic jasmine (Trachelospermum asiaticum), a Florida-friendly plant that is drought-tolerant and needs little care. It is one of my favorite ground covers.
I used the jasmine to show the process of transpiration for my science students. We placed a Ziploc bag around a branch of jasmine and sealed it as much as possible. We also placed a Ziploc bag around a branch with no leaves as a comparison. The jasmine was in full sun with temperatures in the 80′s F. We left for 20 minutes to walk out to the student garden to check on the progress of the garden.
When we returned, the bag with the jasmine leaves had a layer of moisture inside the bag. The other bag had no moisture. Students realized the moisture was the result of transpiration. Transpiration helps to pull water up from the roots through the stem and into the leaves of the plant. (see water movement in celery stalk) Water is needed for photosynthesis in the leaf, but some water vapor leaves the leaf through small openings and increases the amount of water vapor in the air. Transpiration is an important part of the water cycle.
I followed the directions for spacing the Asiatic Jasmine (Trachelospermum asiaticum) when I planted them last summer. (see photo) I want the plants to be the ground cover for the front yard, and I know that the jasmine “sleeps a year, creeps a year, and leaps the 3rd year”, so I wasn’t expecting it to completely cover the ground by this summer. However, it is obvious that the plants are too far apart to be an effective ground cover. Early this spring, I added about 10 more plants, but they were the 1 gallon size. Yesterday I added 20 more plants that were the 4 gallon size. Is this enough? I don’t know, but now some are sleeping and some are creeping. If they all start leaping, I may need help getting out of the front door.
Last summer I covered this area with cardboard to help kill the weeds (see cardboard mulch), then spent days digging up the weeds. We next planted Asiatic jasmine (Trachelospermum asiaticum). My Florida Top 10 Garden Guide book indicated, “Once established, Asiatic jasmine can withstand tough environments. Lack of water and blistering sun are typical of the conditions in which it thrives.” It also says, “Plant it where it cannot reach other plants; it might grow into and climb over them.” The area where it is planted is edged on one side by sidewalk and driveway. I have weed mat down around the low growing junipers that I have started in an adjacent area, but I might need a better boundary around them.
At this point nothing much is happening. I was told that they sleep a year, creep a year, then leap the third year. They are obviously still sleeping. I spent yesterday weeding around each plant, fertilizing and watering. I’m watching for signs of creeping in the next few months.