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?

Share

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

QUESTION:

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

ANSWER:

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

Plants for a Narrow, Dry, Shaded Site in Georgia
April 03, 2014 - I am writing from Valdosta, GA. Could you please suggest three perennial shrubs and/or plants that flower at different times of the spring and summer? Also ones that can be planted in a 2 ft. wide s...
view the full question and answer

Shrub or small tree to hide walls in southern California
August 31, 2009 - We have multiple issues in our back yard in 92683, and will probably need an assortment of plants to accomplish it. In a nutshell, here are the basics we were hoping to fix: 1) Ugly 5 & 6 foot block...
view the full question and answer

Annabelle hydrangeas blossoms drooping to ground in Wilmette, IL
April 10, 2011 - I have a row of Annabelle Hydrangeas that become very heavy and droop over the entire width of the bed. I would like to know what I can use for support so that they will stand up and allow me to plan...
view the full question and answer

Pruning of wax myrtle in St. Augustine FL
May 30, 2009 - How severely can we prune our wax myrtle? It had grown 10 feet tall and very spindly and we want it to be a border hedge in front of the preserve in back of our yard.
view the full question and answer

Erosion controlling plants for a shady Minnesota lakeside
August 11, 2015 - I live about 50 yards from a lake and there is a steep embankment. Recently someone decided to cut the trees off the embankment and now the dirt is eroding off the embankment as well as off my back ya...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | JOBS | SITEMAP | STAFF INTRANET
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center