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

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Monday - August 20, 2012

From: Newport News, VA
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Pollinators, Planting, Shrubs
Title: Looking for a male Southern Wax Myrtle in Newport News, VA.
Answered by: Jimmy Mills

QUESTION:

We are looking to add more southern wax Myrtles to make a hedge row with them. We already have one in the ground that is a female. I have called around to see if anyone sells the male but i keep getting the same answer of they did not know there was a difference. The last person I talked to asked if i knew how far apart do the male and female needs to be to pollinate. Would you know the answer to that question cause I can't seem to find anything online about it.

ANSWER:

Southern Wax Myrtle Morella cerifera (Wax myrtle) is a handsome plant that we often recommend to people who are interested in growing a hedge. It is also known as Myrica cerifera . It is an evergreen plant that is dioecious; male (staminate) flowers and female (pistillate) flowers occur on separate plants.
Since you know that you have a female plant, Mr. Smarty Plants is assuming that it has produced fruit (berries) which means that there is a male tree in the vicinity that supplied some pollen for this to occur. You might want to explore the neighborhood to see where it is.

Since much of the nursery stock is propagated by cuttings, you are more likely to come home with a female plant. The Southern Wax Myrtle is wind pollinated, so the proximity of the male and female plants is probably not a big issue. We have been getting dust from the Sahara Desert in Austin, TX this summer.

This article from University of Florida indicates the possibility of monoecius female plants occasionally having male catkins that can pollinate the female flowers. This could be an explanation for how your plant got pollinated. If this is the case, your new plants could be pollinated from the same source. The article has nice photos so you can look for male catkins on your plant next spring.(more catkins)

I’m including a link to a previous answer that explains a similar situation with persimmons.

This last link to northscaping.com has tips for preventing transplant shock in your new plant.

 

From the Image Gallery


Wax myrtle
Morella cerifera

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