Wax MyrtleMyrica cerifera
Wax Myrtle is also known as Southern bayberry or Candleberry because the American colonists used the fruit’s pale blue, waxy covering to make fragrant bayberry candles.
This broadleaf evergreen shrub or tree grows quickly to 15 to 20 feet high and wide. It can be pruned to maintain certain heights and widths. A compact variety is available. The leaves are small glossy green. Inconspicuous flowers appear in early spring, followed by fruit in late summer through winter. The grayish-white fruit is small (1/8 inch wide), heavily coated with wax and massed in clusters on the stems of the previous season’s growth. Only female plants bear berries.
Wax Myrtles are useful as screen plants, informal hedges, or roadside plantings. The foliage and berries are pleasantly aromatic. Birds are attracted to Wax Myrtles, which they use for food and shelter. They make good beach plants, since they tolerate drought, sand, sun and salt spray.
Wax Myrtles are not particular about soil, but they prefer good drainage and slightly acidic soils.
Plant these shrubs in partial shade to full sun. They do not require a lot of maintenance. Large shrubs can be pruned to form an attractive small tree with a handsome gray, almost white, bark.
Waxmyrtles are tough, durable shrubs. They have no serious plant diseases or insect problems.
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