En Español

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?


Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Thursday - September 29, 2011

From: Roswell, NM
Region: Southwest
Topic: Shrubs, Trees
Title: Will wax myrtle (Morella cerifera) grow in Roswell NM?
Answered by: Nan Hampton


We live in Roswell, NM. Will a wax myrtle tree live in our climate and soil?


Morella cerifera (Wax myrtle) is a 6-12 foot multi-trunked shrub, but might be considered a tree at its maximum height.   Its distribution, according to the USDA Plants Database, has a western limit at Oklahoma and Texas.   If you will click on Texas on that map you will see that its natural distribution in the state is limited to the eastern third of the state.  You will note that the areas where they occur in the US generally have high rainfall and high humidity. 

In the Growing Conditions section of the species page you will see:

Water Use: High
Light Requirement: Sun , Part Shade
Soil Moisture: Moist , Wet
Soil pH: Acidic (pH<6.8) , Circumneutral (pH 6.8-7.2)
CaCO3 Tolerance: Medium
Drought Tolerance: Medium
Heat Tolerant: yes
Soil Description: Slightly acidic, moist, deep sands, loams, clays.
Conditions Comments: Requires constant moisture to get established, but both drought- and flood-tolerant once established. If temperature goes below zero degrees F, will defoliate, not releafing until spring. Tolerant of saline conditions and urban confinement within pavement.

Here in Austin, in the middle of Texas, where our average rainfall is 33" a year, we are able to grow them as landscape plants; however, this year because of the extreme drought and heat, several of my wax myrtles are dying even though they have received regular irrigation.

I checked the websites of several nurseries that specialize in native plants in your area by entering "New Mexico" in the Search by Location slot in our National Suppliers Directory to see if any of them carried wax myrtles.  My thinking was that if they did, that might indicate that they could survive with special care.  None of the nurseries that I checked carried them.

So, my assessment is that you might be able to get wax myrtles to grow with lots of special care and constant watering, but it will be a struggle and they aren't likely to thrive.  If you go to our New Mexico Recommended page and use the NARROW YOUR SEARCH option to choose "Shrub" under GENERAL APPEARANCE, you will find more than 30 shrubs that are native to New Mexico that will give you much happier results.


More Shrubs Questions

Shrub for barrier fence in Alexandria, Virginia
August 19, 2009 - Hi. we need plants to act as a barrier fence, 15 feet tall, partial shade. We are considering a holly or virginia magnolia. What can you suggest? thank you, Nikita
view the full question and answer

Holes in leaves of wax myrtle from Austin
April 30, 2011 - I just purchased 4 of the 5 gallon Wax Myrtles at the last spring plant sale and after planting them, they are getting eaten by bugs leaving holes in the leaves. I can't find any of the bugs doing th...
view the full question and answer

Food Allergy to Beautyberry or Persimmon?
October 22, 2015 - I think I might have a food allergy to Beautyberry or American Persimmon, eaten Saturday at the North Carolina Great Dismal park. These were the only strange foods recently, though I've had persimmo...
view the full question and answer

Erosion control in West Union IA
June 22, 2010 - Erosion control and native grasses/plants for steep, shady slope in northeast Iowa. We are building a house in northeast Iowa (near West Union in Fayette County). The road that was graded to the ho...
view the full question and answer

Cottage-style landscaping for Chesapeake VA
August 02, 2012 - Dear Mr. Smarty Plant staff, I recently moved into a cottage style home that has a poured concrete/paver patio. I am trying to come up with ideas for plantings that would 1. give me a bit of privacy,...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center