Myrtus

Myrtus 'Variegata'

A family of fragrant tender evergreen shrubs and trees from warm-temperate regions. The common variety grows well in mild regions of the UK, especially if sheltered against a sunny wall.

Family: Myrtaceae
Botanical Name: Myrtus (mur-tus)
Common Names: Myrtle

Foliage: Shiny evergreen leathery ovate leaves, aromatic when bruised.

Flowers: White, bowl-shaped flowers with prominent stamens, followed by dark fleshy berries.

Flowering Period: July-August.

Soil: Moist but well-drained soil (chalk, clay, sand or loam). Acid, alkaline or neutral pH.

Conditions: Full sun. Plant in a west or south facing aspect, in a sheltered position.

Habit: Bushy.

Type: Shrub or small tree.

Origin: Mediterranean region.

Hardiness: Half-hardy in UK.

Planting and Growing Myrtus

Plant in a well-drained fertile loamy soil in a warm sunny situation. Protect from cold winds and severe frost.

Myrtle can be grown outside under the protection of a south or west facing wall in mild southern and coastal regions. Alternatively, it can be container grown in a cool greenhouse or conservatory and brought outside in summer.

Taking Care of Myrtus

Pruning Myrtus

Lightly prune to keep within bounds and tidy up the plant's shape in May. Trim back any frost-damaged branches of externally grown plants in late spring.

Pests and Diseases

Generally trouble free.

Propagating Myrtus

Layer in early autumn or take semi-hardwood heel cuttings in July-August and root in a warm frame or heated propagator.

Popular Varieties of Myrtus



Myrtus communis (common myrtle) is a bushy medium-sized evergreen shrub. Bears fragrant white flowers in July-August, followed by purplish-black berries. Needs winter protection in cold areas. Height and spread to around 8-12ft (2.4-3.5m). For sale at Crocus. Cultivars include:

  • 'tarentina' a more compact form with large, pink-tinted cream flowers in summer and small dark green leaves. For sale at Crocus.
  • 'Variegata' (see image above) is an attractive bushy evergreen with masses of fragrant white flowers from mid summer, followed by purple black berries. Height and spread to 4.5ft (1.5m).