A beautiful shrub covering itself with cream flowers during the summer season, the Chilean myrtle always has its effect in compound hedges or as an isolated subject. Aromatic, its foliage gives off a characteristic smell evoking the holidays.
The Chilean myrtle, a shrub that has it all
Chilean myrtle (Myrtus luma and many synonyms: Luma apiculata, Myrtus lechleriana, Myrtus apiculata) is a bushy perennial shrub belonging to the Myrtaceae family. Highly branched, it bears a evergreen glossy dark green somewhat similar to boxwood. The compact varieties or the young subjects are used besides to replace boxwood in gardens where various boxwood diseases are rampant (read: Which plants to replace boxwood?).
Chilean myrtle supports pruning and lends itself to topiaryhowever it compromises the beautiful, very fragrant, creamy-white flowers which attracts pollinating insects from the end of April. If the summer is hot and long enough, the flowers will turn into red then black/bluish berries much appreciated by birds. edible, they are used to make the famous myrtle liqueur, ideal after a meal for its digestive properties, but also to enhance terrines and pâtés as well as various game dishes, especially in Corsican cuisine. In this region, it is rather Myrtus communisa very widespread species in its natural state in the maquis which is used.
Myrtus luma originates from Chile, which makes it a somewhat more rustic subject than Myrtus communis. It may be planted on the entire Atlantic coast or in any garden where the frost does not rage too much. This tall shrub can reach up to 6 meters high for 4 meters spread, it therefore finds its place in compound hedges to attract the gardener’s auxiliaries, but also as an isolated subject or in groves in large gardens. In areas with long, cold winters, it will be grown as an orangery plant, in a large tank, to be wintered frost-free in a veranda or winter garden.
>> Another plant is called “Chile myrtle”: Myrtus checkennot to be confused with Myrtus ugni, Chilean guava
Chile Myrtle Growing Conditions
When to plant Chilean myrtle?
Plant the Chilean myrtle in spring when all risk of frost has passed.
The Chilean myrtle enjoys a very sunny position, sheltered from the winds cold and drying. Planting on a patio or in the corner of a south-facing wall suits it well.
Plant your Chilean myrtle in a very drained and fertile soil. To do this, add a good dose of river sand and compost to the planting hole, especially if the soil is heavy and clayey.
In a pot, use a mix of potting soil and river sand with compost added. Drain the bottom of the pot well with gravel.
Water often after planting to ensure a good recovery, especially in summer, while the roots establish themselves. However, let the soil dry out on the surface for 3 cm before watering again. Once the plant is well established, there is no need to water except in the event of really prolonged drought.
In pots, water once a week in summer and never leave water in the cup. In winter, water only when the substrate dries out.
Scratch an organic organic fertilizer in March then in July at the foot of the Chilean myrtle. In pots, scratch a little crushed horn powder in early and late summer.
No pruning is needed for free forms except for the removal of dead wood and stunted branches. This size can be made in end of winter. The pruning of the shrubs formed into topiaries or hedges takes place at the same time, then if necessary, in September.
The Chilean myrtle is not the most resistant to cold. From -5°C, the foliage “grills” but in very drained soil and in exposure protected from prevailing winds, it tolerates short frosts to -8°C. Protect the foot with mulch and the aerial parts with a winter veil if a cold snap is announced. Bring the subjects grown in pots into a bright, frost-free room in winter.
Propagation of Chilean Myrtle
- Sowing in autumn under cold frame. Be patient, the seeds won’t germinate until the following spring!
- Cuttings semi-hardened stems in summer, warm with the addition of cutting hormones.
Myrtle from Chile: in practice
- Exposure : full sun.
- Floor : drained, fertile.
- Type of vegetation : perennial.
- hardiness : -8°C.
- Diseases and Parasites :/
Species and varieties of myrtles
- Myrtus luma (syn. Myrtus lechleriana, Myrtus apiculata, Luma apiculata) : large shrub with shiny green foliage. Cream bloom. 6 m high for 4 m spread.
- Myrtus luma ‘Glanleam Gold’ : variety with foliage edged in pinkish white. 3 m in all directions.
- Myrtus communis : bushy shrub, shiny green evergreen foliage. White flowers from June to September. 3 m in all directions.
- Myrtus communis ‘Buxifolia’: wonderfully replaces boxwood and lends itself to ball pruning.
- Myrtus communis ‘Minima’: small, compact plant ideal for pots. Fits well in size.
>> Also discover lemon myrtle, Backhousia citriodora