Myrtus communis
Common Name: myrtle 
Type: Broadleaf evergreen
Family: Myrtaceae
Native Range: Mediterranean and southwestern Europe
Zone: 8 to 10
Height: 4.00 to 6.00 feet
Spread: 3.00 to 5.00 feet
Bloom Time: May to July
Bloom Description: White with yellow-tipped stamens
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Low
Suggested Use: Herb
Flower: Showy, Fragrant
Leaf: Fragrant, Evergreen
Attracts: Birds
Other: Winter Interest
Tolerate: Drought

Culture

Winter hardy to USDA Zones 8-10 where it is best grown in moderately fertile, medium moisture, well-drained soils in full sun to part shade. Established plants have some drought tolerance. Sharply drained soils are important. In St. Louis, it is grown in containers that are overwintered indoors. Propagate by seed and cuttings.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Myrtus communis, commonly called myrtle, is a broadleaf evergreen shrub or small tree that is native to the Mediterranean region. It typically grows to 5-6’ tall, but may reach 15-20’ over time. Pointed, opposite (sometimes whorls), ovate to lanceolate, glossy dark green leaves (to 2” long) are strongly aromatic when bruised. White aromatic flowers (3/4”) with many yellow tipped stamens bloom in late spring/summer (May-July). Flowers are followed by blue-black berries. Berries are edible and may be eaten raw, but are at best moderately tasteful. Dried flowers, leaves and fruits are used to flavor foods. Leaves are sometimes used as a substitute for bay leaves. Fresh flowers may be added to salads. Wood and leaves are added to charcoal to flavor grilled meats.

Genus name comes from the Old Greek myrtos or myrsine.

Specific epithet means common.

Problems

No serious insect or disease problems. Root rot may occur in poorly drained soils. Watch for scale, thrips and spider mites.

Garden Uses

Specimen. Foundation plantings. Hedge or screen. Patio planters. Containers. Houseplant.