Primrose Jasmine #167540 - Ask Extension

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Primrose Jasmine #167540

Asked February 20, 2014, 4:03 PM EST

Hi,I recently bought a house on the northwest side of Austin.  The previous owners had extensive landscaping installed in 2003.  They used mostly native and well-adapted plants.  However, they neglected to prune this landscape regularly.  They used a significant amount of Primrose Jasmine.  And unfortunately, it has grown into several massive and tangled messes.  I'm looking for some creative ideas of how to manage it.  I'm not in love with this plant - however, it's easy to grow in our soil and doesn't require much water.  I have two questions.  First - how difficult is it to remove these shrubs completely?  They are roughly 5 feet high and were planted in groups of 4-5.  Secondly - could I cut these shrubs down close to the ground and essentially start over?  And if I can prune them back to the ground - is February an acceptable time to do it?Thanks for the advice!Derek

Travis County Texas

Expert Response

Well Derek, you illustrate a point that I try to make, but no one seems to listen to: "native" landscapes are not maintenance free. Well-meaning people truly do want to do the "right" thing and rip out their turf to put in natives, but they don't understand all of the ramifications of this decision. And how native landscapes can actually be more work and use more water than turf, if not planned properly.

Now, back to your question.  Yes, primrose jasmine is an aggressive plant. And you're right: that's what makes it such a good plant for using in low water-use plantings.  But it does indeed become a gnarly mess.  It sounds like the previous owners made another common mistake: overplanting in too small a space.  And so now you're left to get things back in order.

So, first, yes, prune as much and as hard as you like (I'd suggest back to two feet tall, but no don't leave it any taller than three feet).  PJ will most likely come back easily, then you can stay on top of pruning it.  I recommend keeping it from becoming a bramble (similar to the way blackberries bramble).  So watch for those long stems to shoot out (seemingly overnight!) and nip them in the bud (haha). And from your question, it seems like if PJ didn't come back after you've pruned it, you wouldn't be too broken hearted, so what do you have to lose?

And as to how hard it would be to remove it, it would be hard work to dig it up, but not impossible. So it just depends on what you wish to do.  If you wanted to prune it back now and then make a firm decision next season, you woudn't have lost anything except time.  So if you aren't ready to replace it right now anyway, you won't have lost anything, right?  And yes, now would be a fine time to give it a hard chop. Then you can prune it as it gets out of bounds, any time of year.

Good luck!
Daphne Richards Replied February 21, 2014, 10:24 AM EST
Thanks so much for the quick follow up Daphne!  I am going to go through with a dramatic pruning.  I appreciate your idea of cutting back to 2-3 feet.  And you're right - if they don't grow back - well then I guess I'll execute plan B.  I'll submit some before and after photos.  All the best - Derek
The Question Asker Replied February 21, 2014, 12:10 PM EST
I would LOVE to see before and after photos!  If you'll send high resolution files to my email address, we just might use them (with your permission) on Central Texas Gardener.

drichards@ag.tamu.edu
Daphne Richards Replied February 21, 2014, 12:13 PM EST

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