If you have a garden on the coast or in dry, sandy areas, then Wax Myrtle is the plant for you. It can be grown as a bushy shrub or clipped into an attractive hedge or screen. It can also be pruned up into a small tree. It will grow happily in sun or partial shade and very quickly fill-in and make a beautiful addition to your garden. The growth rate can be up to 5 feet in a year, so if you need a quick medium-sized hedge or screen, Wax Myrtle is a great choice. It is drought resistant, deer-resistant, free of pests and diseases, and will grow in almost any type of soil.
Once it has become established, Wax Myrtle will grow at an amazing rate. It can add 5 feet in height in a single season but will slow down to 2 feet a year until it reaches 20 feet or so, when the growth will slow a little more as the plant matures. So you will get the rapid growth you need when the plants are young and lower maintenance once they mature – an ideal situation.
Growing Wax Myrtles
The glossy evergreen leaves of Wax Myrtle will resist drought and salt, making this plant the ideal choice for a beach cottage or any sandy, dry site. It is not affected by pests or diseases and is extremely hardy and trouble free. This plant is resistant to deer so it can be grown in open areas or wild locations without being eaten. It is best grown in a warmer area as it does not like cold. It is native to large parts of south-east North America, which means it well adapted to southern conditions. Being native also means that if you want to plant a wild area that will blend into the natural areas around your property, Wax Myrtle is an excellent choice. It also encourages many wild birds that will come to feed on the berries or to nest in the safety of the dense branches.
Wax Myrtle (Myrica cerifera) is also known as Bayberry tree, because the waxy coating on the seeds is extracted and can be made into candles with the pleasant scent of the berries. If you have a hedge or screen of Wax Myrtle, just pick a quantity of berries, boil them until the wax comes off them, strain, boil again and use this wax to make fragrant candles just as the early settlers did. These scented candles are especially attractive at Christmas time.
Size and Appearance
Wax Myrtle will quickly grow into a shrub or small tree 15 to 20 feet tall and as much across. The glossy leaves are evergreen and are 3-4 inches long and up to 2 inches wide, although usually narrower. The leaves have a pleasant, spicy smell. As a tree, Wax Myrtle will have several trunks with smooth, grey-brown bark. It is attractive all year round. The flowers in spring are inconspicuous but they are followed by clusters of grey berries along the twigs, which are covered in a very aromatic waxy coating.
Wax Myrtle is hardy in zones 7 to 10, so it is an excellent choice it you live in the south or along the west-coast. If grown in cooler areas the leaves will brown in winter, but the stems will survive and rapidly send out fresh leaves in spring. It is extremely tolerant of poor soil, drought and heat so it is an excellent choice if you live in dryer coastal areas. Once established it really needs no attention.
Using as a Screen or Hedge
When planting a screen or hedge, space the plants 3-5 feet apart and 5 feet away from a fence to allow space for it to grow into a full, rounded barrier. Dig a hole or a trench two or three times wider than the pot. Place your plants in the hole or space them evenly along the trench, replace most of the soil and firm it well down. Then water thoroughly and replace the rest of the soil.
Care and Maintenance
Although Wax Myrtle does best in full sun, it will also tolerate some shade, especially if it can eventually grow up into the sun. Fertilizer is unnecessary, but when young it will help maintain the maximum growth-rate you want to get that hedge or screen established as quickly as possible. It can be pruned as often as needed and regular clipping will produce a beautiful, dense hedge. If you want a small tree, then gradually remove the lower branches as your Wax Myrtle grows, exposing the handsome trunk and leaving a full crown, which can then be clipped if desired. If your Wax Myrtles grow too tall they can be cut hard into thick wood and they will quickly re-sprout and fill in with lots of fresh, new shoots.
Buying Wax Myrtle Shrubs at The Tree Center
Our Wax Myrtle is grown from seed or stem pieces collected from the very best specimens, selected for hardiness and beauty. However, these take longer to produce, so avoid cheaper trees that will only be a disappointment. We sell only trees that are true to the original form to give you the best plant for your purpose. We are constantly renewing our stock to ensure that our customers get fresh, healthy plants, so supplies of this tree may be limited. We also invite you to browse our entire collection of privacy trees and shrubs for more variety.