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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.

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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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Thursday - July 25, 2013

From: Fallbrook, CA
Region: California
Topic: Planting, Soils, Trees
Title: Season to plant Pacific Wax Myrtle from Fallbrook CA
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Would like to know which season would be the best to plant Pacific Wax Myrtle in Fallbrook, CA area? I presently have invading bamboo, which I want to get rid of. Thank you!

ANSWER:

In our Native Plant Database, we have a Morella californica (California wax myrtle), of which another common name is Pacific Bayberry. This USDA Plant Profile Map shows it growing in the western coastal counties of California, but not as far south as San Diego County, on the Mexican  border. In North America, in fact, it grows only in the western coastal states and British Columbia. The member of the Myriaceae (Bayberry) family we are more familiar with in Texas is the Morella cerifera (Wax myrtle), which grows no farther west than Texas, and mostly in East Texas, at that. Still, they are closely related, and we can find the answer to your question.

If you follow this plant link, Morella californica (California wax myrtle), to our webpage on that plant, you will find these growing conditions:

"Growing Conditions

Water Use: Medium
Light Requirement: Sun , Part Shade
CaCO3 Tolerance: Medium
Soil Description: Moist, well-drained, slightly acid sands or loams.
Conditions Comments: This shrub tolerates beach wind."

Here is more information and pictures from Calflora. And still more from the Virginia Tech Department of Forest Resources and Environmental Conservation. In our research, we learned that this tree is hardy from USDA Plant Hardiness Zones 7a to 10B. San Diego County is considered in 10b to 11a. The reason we are searching for so much information is that we are concerned that the tree you want to plant is not recorded as growing naturally in San Diego County. That doesn't mean it won't grow there, it just means it isn't reported as growing there. Also, you will note that it likes slightly acid sands, and needs very good drainage. Since we don't know what your soils are, that is another reason for concern. We suggest that you contact the University of California Extension Office for San Diego County. They may either know what your soils are or be able to supply you with a soil test kit.

Now that we have gone through all the warnings, to answer your original question: We always recommend that woody plants (trees and shrubs) be planted in the coolest time of the year when the plant is in semi-dormancy. And PLEASE don't purchase the plant before you are ready to put it in the ground. As hot as it probably is where you are, we would say not to plant it a minute before December 1st, and have it in the ground by January 31st. From our Step by Step Guides, here are instructions on How To Plant a Tree.

 

 

 

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