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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 - February 15, 2016

From: Lago Vista, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Pruning, Privacy Screening, Shrubs
Title: Rejuvenating an old Wax myrtle hedge
Answered by: Guy Thompson

QUESTION:

I have 8 wax myrtles that were planted about 9 years ago as a screen from our neighbors. They are about 12 feet high. During the past 9 months they are getting thinner and thinner. Two of them have died. I went through all of them and cut out the dead limbs . I do have lot of suckers coming up around all the shrubs including the dead ones I have left them alone hoping they will grow and replace the dead ones. Will these suckers eventually grow into new shrubs? If I have to replace them, what is a good shrub to use that grows fast and tall?

ANSWER:

Morella cerifera (Wax myrtle) is very forgiving of pruning, and we saw several different suggestions when we searched on the Internet. You can prune the old branches severely now, sparing the suckers; don't wait until it starts to get hot. Then, after that, prune it a couple times of year to help it regrow into a hedge size and shape.  If you are getting berries on your myrtles, that means you have female plants and that there are male plants of the same species in the area for pollination. 

 There are other natives, such as Sophora secundiflora (Texas mountain laurel) and Ilex vomitoria (Yaupon ) that would make an attractive screen, but they both are quite slow growing, especially when young.   Leucophyllum frutescens (Cenizo) grows a bit faster and might be worth considering if you decide not to rescue your Wax myrtle.

 

 

From the Image Gallery


Wax myrtle
Morella cerifera

Texas mountain laurel
Sophora secundiflora

Yaupon
Ilex vomitoria

Cenizo
Leucophyllum frutescens

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