Myrtus Communis

by Gail Theron

My very first Bonsai (created under the expert guid anc e of Bernard)was a Myrtus communis. Perhaps this is why I am particularly fond ofthis species. However, during this past year they have rated high on the list of 'sick' trees brought to me for care.

The common Myrtle is an evergreen shrub up to 3 m with small, dark green, glossy, aromatic leaves. It has white flowers consisting mainly of a puff of stamens followed by single- stalked, blueish-black berries. It is used mainly for hedges and is drought-resistant.

I feel that they make very good subjects for Bonsai as the leaves are tiny and with the proper care it rewards one with a network of fine branches in a reasonably short time.

These trees are very vulnerable to certain pests, e g scale, mealie bug and aphids and due to the nature of the bark these are often only deetected when the tree is somee what debilitated. A full cover spray of 1 tsp Oleum per 1 litre of water will control these pests. However, as the eggs are laid under the bark one should spray a fortnight later to deal with these.

I have found that they don't like damp feet and should therefore have a soil mixture that drains well. I fertilise mine fortnightly with Seagro and have them in a sunny position. I feel that it is not sufficient merely to pinch out shoots, one has to prune back quite often.My myrtles have brought me a tremendous amount of pleasure. They are readily available from nurseries and quickly deveelop into pleasing Bonsai. I can recommend them to beginners and experiienced growers alike.

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Random Bonsai Tip

If surface roots are unequally spread around the trunk or if they are lacking completely you can drill holes and insert match sticks or make deep scars around the base of the trunk on the side where the roots are needed below soil level. Apply hormone powder and sphagnum moss; cover with plastic and keep moist. Leave for 6 months to 1 year for the roots to develop.