08 October 2007

Wax On Wax Off



Alright, I'll admit it: I've been secretly cursing this perfectly helpful woman who helped me at the Natural Gardener this past spring when I was buying wax myrtles. The myrtles were in full bloom, and I'd read that they were dioecious, meaning that the male flowers and female flowers are on separate plants. This is common enough--yaupon, for example requires a male in the vicinity somewhere if it's going to have big red berries. So, I asked her if the plants I was buying were female and she said 'oh, it doesn't matter.' For some reason, I believed her and bought the darn plants. Well, the flowers came and went and no berries for months and months. So, I began secretly cursing. I really wanted females so that birds would come and feed on them during the winter.

Well, I'm no longer cursing that poor woman, as all three of our wax myrtles are showing small berries. Amazingly, there is nothing to indicate the coming berries for months and months--no small nodes, buds or anything after the flowers fall. But all of a sudden, there are small little berries growing on some of the branches. Yay! My humble apologies go out to the woman at Natural Gardener. She still wasn't correct--wax myrtles are dioecious (so pick a female if you want berries)--but now I feel bad anyway...

Wax myrtles rock, by the way. Nice smelling leaves, especially after a rain; a good evergreen screen or hedge; and, berries for birds and hosts for hairstreaks. Cool stuff. They remind me of the dunes in South Carolina, where they grow stunted and beautifully sculpted by the ocean breezes. There's nothing quite like the warm salty air of the Carolina coast, infused by the scent of myrtles and marshes...

5 comments:

Bonnie said...

I'll have to check them out- I've never seen a wax myrtle...at least I don't think I have. They sound cool.

Pam/Digging said...

I love wax myrtles too. A line of them screens my privacy fence and greens it up. The leaves smell delicious when crushed.

I used to have some in full sun, but they were often drought-stressed, so I pulled 'em out. The ones in part shade in the back garden do much better.

Lee said...

pam,

that's good to know. i planted mine in part shade but was nervous they wouldn't get enough sun. they've been doing pretty well, and i look forward to the time that they are large enough to provide a nice evergreen screen for our outdoor patio and fire pit.

Annie in Austin said...

My wax myrtle started out in a small container on a deck - then was moved into ever-larger containers over 7 years, now helping to screen the patio. It never made berries - now I know why!

Annie at the Transplantable Rose

mss @ Zanthan Gardens said...

I had one in part shade and it was never happy; always yellow and drought-stressed. Don't they dislike Austin's alkaline soil? Anyway, it died years ago. I liked the smell of it's leaves but otherwise it didn't seem worth the trouble.