How to grow stephanotis

Stephanotis floribunda

Stephanotis floribunda is a beautiful conservatory and house plant, grown for its glossy, dark green leaves and long-lasting white jasmine-scented flowers from spring to autumn. Also known as Madagascar jasmine, floradora or bridal wreath, it’s often used in wedding bouquets. Its name comes from the Greek ‘stephanos’ (crown) and ‘otis’ (ear) – a reference to the crown of stamens within each flower. Stephanotis floribunda has the prestigious RHS Award of Garden Merit (AGM).

Stephanotis is a vine and is often sold trained over a wire hoop – as it grows you can try growing it up a trellis. It has a reputation for being rather tricky to grow and it can be slightly difficult to coax into re-flowering. The flowers appear along the length of the whippy stems produced in the current year, and can be encouraged by growing them in a bright, humid and warm location in spring and summer, and feeding them with a potassium-rich liquid fertiliser.

If your plant is very happy, it may bear a pear-like fruit, up to 10cm long. This is not edible, but you can try saving the seeds inside to sow.

How to grow stephanotis

Grow stephanotis in a place that has good, filtered light but is out of direct sun, and try to keep the temperature as consistent as possible – around 21°C-23°C is ideal. Water as soon as the compost feels dry. Stephanotis thrives in humidity, so spray with tepid water every few days and/or stand on a tray of moist pebbles. Do not move the plant when it’s in flower or its blooms may drop. Feed fortnightly from spring to late summer. Keep in a cool spot and reduce watering in winter.


Where to grow stephanotis

A large Stephanotis floribunda growing against a trellis in a conservatory
A large Stephanotis floribunda growing against a trellis in a conservatory

Grow stephanotis in a bright spot out of direct sun. A warm, humid conservatory, kitchen or bathroom is ideal.


How to care for stephanotis

Stephanotis floribunda flowers. Getty Images
Stephanotis floribunda flowers. Getty Images

Water when the soil begins to dry out in spring and summer, and then more sparingly in autumn and winter. 

Stephanotis requires high humidity levels – placed on a tray filled with pebbles and water in summer. In summer, lightly mist the foliage. 

Try to keep the temperature as consistent as you can – 21°C-23°C. Put it in a cooler spot in winter – it needs a minimum temperature of 13°C. 

Feed fortnightly between April and October with a high-potassium liquid feed such as tomato food.

Tie the stems into its support as it grows; trim lightly in spring if necessary.


How and when to repot stephanotis

Repot in spring, every other year. Move up to the next pot size only, gradually increasing the size over time, up to around 23cm in diameter. If your plant is too large to do this, scrape away as much compost as you can, and replace with fresh. Plant into a soil-based compost, such as a peat-free John Innes No.2.


How to propagate stephanotis

Stephanotis floribunda in bud. Getty Images
Stephanotis floribunda in bud. Getty Images

Stephanotis plants can be propagated by taking cuttings, taken from April to June. They should root in around 4-6 weeks.

  1. Take 10cm cuttings from sturdy stems, cutting just below a node. Remove some of the lower leaves
  2. Insert into a mix of peat-free compost and horticultural sand/perlite
  3. Keep at a temperature of around 18-21°C – a heated propagator is ideal. Alternatively, cover with a plastic bag and place on a warm windowsill, out of direct sun
  4. Once rooted, pot on into John Innes No.2 compost

Stephanotis can also be grown from seed, saved from your own plant or bought from a seed supplier.


Growing stephanotis: problems

Mealybugs may occur on stephanotis – look for white woolly patches. Inspect plants regularly and remove small infestations using cotton wool buds dipped in fatty acids or plant oils.

Scale insect can also be a problem – they look like raised brown patches on the leaves and stems. Again, inspect plants regularly and remove small infestations using cotton wool buds dipped in fatty acids or plant oils.

Dropping flowers or buds can occur if the plant is moved – try to not move your plant when it’s in flower. Dropping flowers and buds can also be due to fluctuations in temperature, underwatering or overwatering, or lack of humidity.

Lack of flowers can be due to low humidity, or low temperatures, incorrect treatment in winter or lack of feeding.

Dropping leaves can be a sign of low temperatures or overwatering.

Yellow leaves are usually caused by not enough feeding.

Advice on buying stephanotis

  • Stephanotis are available from garden centres and are often sold trained over a hoop
  • Always check plants for signs of damage and disease before buying/planting

Where to buy stephanotis

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