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Plant Profile: Myrtle (Myrtus communis)

Myrtle Myrtus communis bushThis upright evergreen shrub grown in the Mediterranean area since ancient times and is especially popular in the coastal gardens of California and hot areas of Arizona. It is bushy, fine-textured and has small lustrous bright green leaves that are aromatic when crushed. In late spring to early summer fragrant white to pinkish white flowers with numerous stamens are produced followed by small blue-black edible berries. Although the flowers are not the main attraction of the shrub, they are a lovely delicate addition to the garden scene. Myrtle tolerates salt and some drought, thrives in heat but does not do well in humidity, drying winds, or wet soils. It takes well to shearing and can be pruned into formal hedges, topiary, and bonsai. Associated with love and peace, it is a popular foliage plant in wedding bouquets.

Type: Evergreen shrub

Outstanding Features: Fine textured-foliage

Form: Upright, bushy, ovalMyrtle Myrtus_communis12

Growth Rate:Medium

Bloom: Small white to pinkish white flowers with numerous stamens in late spring to early summer followed by blue-black berries in late summer and fall

Size: 10′ H x 6′ W

Light: Full sun

Soil: Average, moist to medium dry, well-drained

Hardiness: Zones 9-11Myrtle myrtus_communis_berries

Care: Prune to shape

Pests and Diseases: Generally pest and disease free but susceptible to scale followed by sooty mold; root rot in wet soil; thrips, spider mites

Propagation: Seed, semi-hardwood cuttings

Outstanding Selections:
‘Compacta’ (slow growing to 3′ tall)
Variegata’ (leaves with white margin)