Submitted by Camilla B., edited by Juliet S.
There are very few plants that bloom in February and March in Groton, Massachusetts. But there are hellebores, crocuses, and witch hazel to comfort us, if we remember to plan, and plant them months ahead so they will bloom when we need them.
Here is a less well-known plant from Camilla B, who has grown this early-flowering plant called Winter Jasmine, or Jasminum nudiflorum, in three different gardens in Groton. It’s listed as being hardy to zones 6-10, but it has always bloomed a little in February or March in each location. This warm winter has made hers bloom more thickly than ever before.
It is a trailing vine that will grow to 10-15 feet tall and wide. It typically grows in a sprawling mound with arching branches.
Once it’s established it needs severe pruning right after flowering (as much as one-third of the plant should be cut off, or right down to the ground ) to maintain good blooming, and to keep it from getting woody and totally out of hand. It seems not to have any problems that she has observed.
It’s from Northern China, so not a native, but there aren’t many native plants that flower this early. There are also Japanese Witch Hazels that bloom early. One early-blooming native shrub that we should be able to grow here is Hamamelis vernalis “Ozark Witch Hazel.” This should not be confused with the autumn-flowering native Hamamelis viginiana. Camilla will be seeking this Ozark Witch Hazel for purchasing this spring!