Mature Myrica cerifera (Southern Wax Myrtle) in a 7-gallon.
Young Myrica cerifera (Southern Wax Myrtle) in 3-gallon pots.

Myrica (Morella) cerifera (Southern Wax Myrtle)

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Myrica cerifera, commonly known as southern wax myrtle, is a large, broad-leaved evergreen shrub with aromatic leaves, closely related to dwarf wax myrtle, Myrica pusila; the two plants are so closely related that there is some debate whether southern wax myrtle is actually a separate species from Myrica pusila, or if it is just a naturally dwarfed cultivar.

Growing to a maximum height of 25-35' tall and 8-10' wide, though typically much smaller, Myrica cerifera is an extremely hardy shrub once established, and can be found in a wide range of habitats thanks to its tolerance of heat and drought as well as poorly-draining wet soils. Myrica cerifera is not, however, very tolerant of cold temperatures, and foliage will look best in mild winters; cold, windy winters can cause the plant to defoliate.

Southern wax myrtle blooms in early to late spring, depending on climate, and produces small, inconspciuous yellow-green flowers, which eventually turn to the blue-gray berries that give wax myrtle its other common name of waxberry. Waxberries are an excellent food source for a variety of birds, with their waxy coating protecting them from water and heat damage. Southern wax myrtle also has a larger growth habit than dwarf wax myrtle, which allows for a variety of birds to nest and perch among its branches.

Notes: Myrica cerifera is dioecious, meaning that there are male and female plants; males and females must be planted together to produce the best fruiting results.

Straight Species, Native to U.S., Native to Maryland, and Native to Eastern Shore
Mature Tree Height: Medium: 15 to 30 feet
Sun (6+ hours) and Part Shade/Sun (4-6 hours of sun)
Soil Moisture: Wide Tolerance
Soil Type: Wide Tolerance
Bloom Time: Spring
Flower Color: Yellow and Green
Foliage Color: Green
Features: Attracts Birds, Fall Color, Winter Interest, Fragrant, and Erosion Control
Tolerances: Clay Soil Tolerant, Deer Tolerant, Rabbit Tolerant, Drought Tolerant, Wet Soil Tolerant, Flood Tolerant, and Salt Tolerant
Garden Type: Rain Garden, Woodland Garden, and Rock Garden

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