Garden Oracle / Drought and Heat Tolerant Gardening / Tucson - Phoenix - Arizona - California

Growing Myrtus communis:

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Form: Shrub.
Lifespan: 25-50 years.
Leaf retention: Evergreen.
Growth rate: Slow to moderate.
Mature Size: 8-12' high and as wide.
Flowers: White, five petals, white stamens with yellow-tips, sweetly fragrant. The flowers and buds are edible.
Bloom: Spring. It will also bloom in the fall, if left untrimmed, but flowers and buds will be killed by an early frost.
Fruit: Blue-black, several seeds, edible. There is a cultivar with amber-yellow fruit. The fruit drops from the stem after becoming ripe. It may stain concrete, brick or stone.
Leaves: Green, lance-shaped, smooth edges, aromatic when bruised or crushed, edible.
Stems: No thorns.
Roots: No surface roots.
Wildlife: Flowers attract bees, possibly butterflies, berries attract birds. Deer resistant.
Toxic / Danger: No.
Origin: Mediterranean, Middle East.

Cultivation and Uses
USDA hardiness zones: 8-10.
Heat tolerant: Yes.
Drought tolerant: Yes.
Sun: Full sun.
Water after becoming established: Deep water once a month. The soil must dry out between waterings.
Soil: Well drained, low in organic content, pH 6.1-8.3 (slightly acidic to somewhat alkaline). Myrtle is prone to root rot in wet soil. It is saline tolerant.
Mulch: Spread a thick layer of organic mulch under the plant to reduce moisture loss in summer.
Planting: Dwarf cultivars will grow in containers.
Prune: In the first two years, prune to determine the overall plant structure. In following years, trim the plant after its fruit has dropped to encourage denser leaf growth. It is tolerant of frequent clipping and can be used as a hedge or for topiary.
Litter: Low.
Propagation: Pre-soaked seed, cuttings.
Uses: Ornamental, hedge, edible spice. Berries, eaten raw, are said to taste like a slightly bitter Juniper berry crossed with Rosemary. When used dried and whole, the berries add a peppery note to cooked foods such as pork. Its leaves are used in savory cooked dishes. Its flowers are added to salads. An alcoholic drink is made flavored with the berries.

This plant is a member of the Myrtle family (Myrtaceae). A dwarf cultivar is shown.

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Myrtus communis: Myrtle - flower

Myrtus communis: Myrtle - berries

Myrtus communis: Myrtle

Latest update: June, 2021
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