How To Grow & Care For the Wax Myrtle

The Wax Myrtle, also known as Southern Wax Myrtle or Southern Bayberry, is a versatile evergreen shrub or small tree that offers an array of attractive features. Native to the southeastern United States, the Wax Myrtle’s aromatic foliage and attractive bluish-white berries have made it a popular choice for hedges, borders, and wildlife gardens.

Growing rapidly and able to thrive in a variety of soil conditions, Wax Myrtle has become a favored selection for gardeners and landscapers. The female plants produce clusters of waxy berries that persist through the winter, providing an essential food source for various bird species. Moreover, the plant’s leaves have a rich history of use in traditional medicine and candle-making.

Wax Myrtle is not only valued for its aesthetic appeal but also for its hardiness and adaptability. It can be shaped into formal hedges or allowed to grow naturally, offering flexibility in garden design. With proper care, this resilient plant can become an elegant and functional addition to landscapes and gardens.

Common NamesWax Myrtle, Southern Wax Myrtle, Southern Bayberry
Botanical NameMyrica cerifera
Plant TypeEvergreen shrub or tree
Mature Size10 to 20 feet tall
Sun ExposureFull sun to partial shade
Soil TypeAdaptable to various soil types
Hardiness Zones7 to 11
Native AreaSoutheastern United States

Wax Myrtle Care

Wax Myrtle is admired for its relatively low maintenance needs and adaptability to different environments. It can grow in a range of soil types and tolerates both drought and wet conditions, making it suitable for various landscape applications. Regular watering and pruning will help maintain its shape and vigor, especially if used as a hedge or topiary.

Fertilizing with a balanced, slow-release fertilizer in early spring promotes healthy growth, though it’s not always necessary. Paying attention to the specific needs of the plant in your region and providing proper care will ensure that the Wax Myrtle remains a robust and attractive feature in your garden.

Light Requirement for Wax Myrtle

Wax Myrtle thrives in full sun to partial shade. Adequate sunlight encourages dense growth and better flowering and fruiting.

Soil Requirements for Wax Myrtle

Wax Myrtle is adaptable to various soil types, including sandy, loamy, and clay soils. Good drainage is essential, although the plant is tolerant of both acidic and alkaline conditions.

Water Requirements for Wax Myrtle

While Wax Myrtle is drought-tolerant once established, regular watering is beneficial, especially during hot, dry periods. It can also tolerate wet conditions, making it suitable for damp areas.

Temperature and Humidity

Wax Myrtle does well in temperate climates and can withstand temperatures down to 0°F. It’s not particularly sensitive to humidity, adapting well to the varying conditions of its native range.


A balanced, slow-release fertilizer applied in early spring can support growth. However, Wax Myrtle is generally not heavy-feeding and can thrive without regular fertilization.

Pruning Wax Myrtle

Pruning can be done to shape the plant or to remove dead or diseased branches. Regular trimming is recommended if the plant is used as a hedge.

Propagating Wax Myrtle

Cuttings taken from semi-hardwood branches can be used for propagation. Rooting hormone and consistent moisture can aid in successful growth.

How To Grow Wax Myrtle From Seed

Growing Wax Myrtle from seed is possible but may require stratification. Plant seeds in a well-draining mix, keeping them moist and warm.

Common Pests & Plant Diseases


A common pest that can be managed with insecticidal soap or neem oil.

Powdery Mildew

Fungicides or proper air circulation can help manage this disease.

Common Problems With Wax Myrtle

Yellowing Leaves

This may be a sign of poor drainage or overly wet soil. Correcting the soil condition can resolve the issue.

Lack of Berries

Ensure that both male and female plants are present for fruiting, and provide adequate sunlight.

Leggy Growth

This usually indicates insufficient light. Increasing sun exposure can promote denser growth.

Pro Tips

  1. Plant male and female Wax Myrtles together for berry production.
  2. Consider the plant’s mature size when selecting a planting site to avoid overcrowding.
  3. Prune regularly if a formal shape is desired.
  4. Monitor soil moisture and drainage to prevent potential problems.