Originally from South Africa la Polygala myrtifolia it is a plant that is grown mainly for ornamental purposes and we can find it on the coasts and in areas where the climate is rather dry. It can be an excellent plant for decorating gardens if the climate allows it. Let's find out more about its characteristics and how it is possible to grow it better.
Polygala myrtifolia: description
It is an evergreen shrub belonging to the family of Polygalaceae and that comes to us from the southern regions of African continent where it still grows luxuriantly. Let's imagine it as a rather dense bush with a rounded shape that can reach heights of two or three meters. In fact, there are those who cultivate it and make it grow to transform it into a sort of small tree. There are also dwarf varieties that do not exceed 35-50 cm in height.
Its many branches are covered with many green but not bright leaves, a green that tends to gray. They look like myrtle leaves, are lanceolate and leathery in texture.
To see flowers appear on this shrub, it is necessary to wait until the beginning of March, not too long compared to other plants. Flowering can also last until autumn and the flowers resemble those of black locust: purple or white color, inflorescences united in racemes that develop at the apexes of the branches.
Polygala myrtifolia: diseases
Not too weak a plant, but it has its enemies. The problems that in most cases are encountered when a specimen of this plant is kept in the garden are the root rot and any attacks by aphids. Together with mealybugs, the afo a real damage for this plant and when attacks occur, it is better to provide a biological aphidicide treatment or a pyrethrum-based insecticide at the end of winter, before the plant produces buds.
Polygala myrtifolia: cultivation
Let's find out what are the best conditions for growing this shrub which, not being of European origins, could struggle to acclimatise, especially if the climate is too harsh. It is a plant that prefers to be in sunny places and where the wind doesn't blow too much. If we fear that in winter it may drop the temperature too much, it is better to equip ourselves to cover the hair with a non-woven fabric so that it does not get damaged or even die.
It is very important that the soil is well drained, in general, but if we can choose its characteristics, then we opt for a soft soil rich in organic matter. During the spring it is very important to fertilize to enhance the development of new leaves and flowers. To proceed, let's get a fertilizer for flowering plants, rich in nitrogen and potassium to be administered every 20 days, approximately. With the arrival of autumn, the procedure is changed and the feet of the mature manure shrub begin to be buried.
As for the administration of water, however, also in this case it depends on the vegetative season in which the plant is found. Until autumn, already from spring, it is important to water the plant regularly while during the vegetative rest, which lasts all winter, we can also avoid wetting the plant except in some moments, when there are periods of drought very long, watering in moderation during the hours when the sun beats down.
Polygala myrtifolia: multiplication
You can proceed either with propagation by seed than with that by cuttings. In the first case, you can get seeds, even online or in a specialized shop, and then sow them in the spring. If you choose the method for cuttings instead, then the best time is summer. It is necessary to derive the cuttings from the branches by cutting about ten centimeters. Once obtained, they must be rooted in a mixture of sand and peat until the new leaves appear.
However, when it becomes necessary to transfer the plant from a smaller pot to a larger one, which happens about every 2 or 3 years, we must remember to use some new soil and to treat the roots gently. Every year, in February, just before flowering begins, it is important to prune. The branches are taken and cut in half of their length to encourage stumbling and to obtain copious flowering.
Polygala myrtifolia: name
Like all other plants in the family Polygalaceae, our Polygala myrtifolia has a meaningful name. In fact, it comes from the Greek "Polygala" and means "lots of milk ". It is no coincidence, the name always tells us a lot about the plants it is associated with and in this case it reminds us of an ancient legend. In fact, in Europe it was once believed that the small plants of polygala myrtifolia grazed by cows had the power to increase milk production. This ability was also transferred to women and people began to think that it could also help mothers produce more milk.
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