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What’s Blooming in Paradise: Wax Myrtle features bluish lavender berries

By Staff | Jul 8, 2015

First impression: Bumpy, aromatic, bluish lavender berries covering teeny tiny and too numerous to count stems. Aaah, my nose detects a magnificent bayberry type essence, after handing the waxy berries. The narrow leaves are gray-green to yellow-green and fragrant also when crushed. I notice oodles of branches and multi stemmed gray trunks. Tweety-tweet-tweet We have multitudes of pseudo-blue berries that our birds love to sing about, fruiting now at the Botanical Gardens of the Sanibel Moorings.

Upon further investigation: Wax Myrtle is one of my garden must haves. We gardeners in paradise are always looking for a great habitat plant for our backyard birds. Fortunately, we have this wonderful native plant that is covered with fruits right when our hungry birds are looking for their next meal.

Get ready when berries occur, birds will thank you with a cheerful song. Butterflies also love it because it’s the host plant — aka plants on which butterflies lay their eggs–for the Red Banded Hairstreak butterfly (Calycopis cecrops). You might find them fluttering all around it adding another dimensional beauty.

You will also love its densely branched habit; you decide the height by pruning. Left on its own, the mature height is around 20 feet tall. Our star grows wide and bushy with occasional suckers around the base. It is evergreen and can be shaped just how you want it. We do not encourage hedging or edging to look like a mushroom or box. Plants have a natural shape, which should be mimicked when pruning. Out dated, over pruning is a huge waste of resources and leads to an unhealthy and unnatural garden. We have it in many places all over the garden and shape or trim it to fit the area it’s in. Very versatile!

I am gaga over its earthy bayberry like aroma, which is a double whammy coming from the leaves and these itty bitty fruits. Theses fruits occur only on the female Wax Myrtles. Males Myrtles have a caterpillar shaped like yellow blossom and no berries. Both look the same until they flower; so ask before you buy, if you would like a particular gender.

The berries are blue berry-like, but much smaller and abundant winter fruiting is relished by all sizes of our garden birds. I began my love of Wax Myrtle, with my first plant I purchased from the SCCF Native Plant Nursery. Its native status puts it in the easy care, drought tolerant, and lack of pests/disease category. Wax Myrtle will grow on a wide variety of soils and sand. Super for our tropical climate due to its drought tolerance and full to filtered sun. Wax Myrtle from days gone was used for scenting many early settlers candles. They also used it for repelling of insects in their homes. I encourage you to add this to your garden, once you hear your garden bird thanking you with an eye closing melody, don’t forget to thank me!

Pros:

* Oodles of fruit

* Does well in sandy or wet soil

* Likes full sun/partial shade

* Easy to maintain/prune

* Birds love the fruit

* Salt tolerance

* Earn extra money making scented candles

* Neighbors will wonder where that lovely fragrance is coming from

* Cold tolerant

* Native

* Butterfly host plant.

Cons:

* Fast grower

* Birds love the fruit

* May have to thank Anita

* Rethink

* Tolerate caterpillars and nibbled leaves.

Conclusion: Have you lost your garden symphony? Come hear our avian arias as they partake from our bountiful berries, at our tropical gardens in paradise.

Don’t wanna miss this fruiter!

***Proper planning to create a natural habitat will reward you with healthy plants that don’t continually need fertilizing fixes. Any fertilizing during our rainy season, only ends up in our water resources as unwanted algae blooms. Remember we have a yearly fertilizer restriction during July 1 through Oct. 2. This is a very important mandatory restriction to reduce nitrogen and phosphorus runoff into our precious waterways.***