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Wax Myrtle as a foundation plant?

Posted by satellitehead 7 (My Page) on
Tue, Apr 21, 09 at 17:01

Trying to help my neighbor out.

Need a small evergreen tree.


- CANNOT be a Holly.
- CANNOT be Florida Anise.
- CANNOT be a conifer.
- Must be evergreen.
- Needs to be more upright than bushy/shrubby.
- Prefer something native.
- Cannot grow to more than 15' diameter, ~20' tall.

I mentioned wax myrtle to them, but I can't find a single one that actually has an upright, taller, skinnier look to it. They all seem to be shrubbery, and that's just not going to cut it.

Open to suggestions that fit within the confines of above. This will be replacing a holly tree I dug out for them almost 18 months ago. They're REALLY wanting something else to go there. I wanted to put a Pineapple Guava in the spot, but ... meh.

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Wax Myrtle as a foundation plant?

What about a tea olive?

RE: Wax Myrtle as a foundation plant?

we planted 7 wax myrtles last fall as a screen to our neighbor's house. They are fairly shrubby in appearance and i think can get quite wide if you leave them. They are supposedly very amenable to pruning though, and I have read that they can be pruned to grow into more of a tree form (by pruning off the lower branches i suppose). They grow quickly.

Can't think of any suggestions for tall, skinny, evergreen and native...

RE: Wax Myrtle as a foundation plant?

What about a wax myrtle cultivar like 'Suwannee Elf'? And you can't get away with Ilex glabra (Inkberry)? It doesn't LOOK like a holly.

RE: Wax Myrtle as a foundation plant?

Have you considered a Little Gem magnolia?

RE: Wax Myrtle as a foundation plant?

I've been dealing with the Wax Myrtles at work. The dwarf ones are short and roundish in shape, the tall ones when pruned repeatedly will sucker BADLY - this has become a problem in many older, small city gardens and taking them out is difficult. A "regular" size Wax Myrtle grows into a small tree. Too big for a foundation.

How about

My neighbors also have weeping Ilex vomitoria pendula and it stays very narrow for them. It's really cool looking!

RE: Wax Myrtle as a foundation plant?


Fits into constraints.
There are various cultivars. I am sure there is one that can be trained to grow like a small tree.
PLUS, it blooms.

RE: Wax Myrtle as a foundation plant?

Forgot to mention, they don't like Magnolias either. I showed them inkberry, they weren't in love. I showed them Yaupon Holly and they thought it was too dainty. They want something with some meat to it.

Camellia is too slow growing. Tea olive could work, albeit they have a couple around the side of their house.

RE: Wax Myrtle as a foundation plant?

What about an evergreen Viburnum?

Viburnum awabuki 'Chindo' 10-15'

Prague Viburnum up to 10'

(i dont have either of these, so I dont know how they do here)

These are not native though...wonder if there are any evergreen native viburnums that get tall?

RE: Wax Myrtle as a foundation plant?

No evergreen viburnums unfortunately. 'Chindo' gets big, I have 3 in an arrangement for screening off a neighbor. After 5 years, they are already 15 feet. Nice glossy leaves but I have been disappointed that none of the 3 have flowered despite being in full sun and being that big.

Prague is not bad, I have that as well (it suckers and my friend wanted to share).

What about Carolina Cherry Laurel 'Bright N Tight'? Another cultivar is 'Compacta' - I just bought 3 for a friend (15 gallon size) for screening.

RE: Wax Myrtle as a foundation plant?

The Korean strain of _Pittosporum tobira_ may be a good choice. It is more cold-tolerant and a little more compact than its Japanese cousin. It is widely used as an evergreen foundation shrub/tree and produces creamy white clusters of orange-blossom scented flowers in the late spring. Small, attractive clusters of fruit follow. I have a couple of pittosporums outside one of my bedroom windows with a pineapple guava (_Feijoa sellowiana_), a grouping of Encore azaleas, and a _Sabal_ 'Birmingham' in the planting. Fig vine (_Ficus pumila_) grows on the high foundation of the house, providing a green backdrop to the shrubs. I think I bought the Korean pittosporum, the pineapple guava, and the palmetto from Woodlanders in Aiken, SC. You will find the less winter-hardy Japanese pittosporum available from many plant nurseries; however, you will probably have to rely on a high-quality mail-order nursery like Woodlanders for the Korean form of _Pittosporum tobira_.

RE: Wax Myrtle as a foundation plant?

Cyrus might be on to something. We have a sasanqua that grew from a twig to around fifteen feet in less than ten years (The key was a spectacularly huge hole).

Evergreen, fast growing, blooming and can be pruned into a narrow tree.

RE: Wax Myrtle as a foundation plant?

(note: native is not required, and that was me projecting my preferences onto my neighbors :) i just didn't want any invasive suggestions (put in some chinese privet! LOL)

@ esh - you just helped me to ID the plant I transplanted to the same area of their yard this year! (i believe it's cherry laurel, but it hasn't bloomed yet!). and, oh damn! i think i mighta screwed up, i planted it less than a foot from their porch thinking it was a small shrub! I just had another come up on my side yard also, about 4" away from my foundation - it stayes 6-8" tall for two years, so i left it while trying to ID the thing...and in the last 6 months it jumped to 4' tall!

i am checking out the other suggestions and will share with neighbor by end of week. keep suggestions coming if you got 'em!

RE: Wax Myrtle as a foundation plant?

OK, CALL OFF THE HUNT! I love UF! And darnit, I love you too, @esh for leading me to solve a 2-3 year old mystery!

I just confirmed based on this PDF from UF's hort program that, amazingly, we already have what we need in this spot, we just need to move it a few feet!

Esh, you were 100% right (again). How do you do it?!

In case anyone is interested, here are a couple links to pictures of specimens that match the wild shrub I dug up and transplanted to the neighbors last year: laurel 30 (2).jpg


- Evergreen
- Native
- 15'-20' height avg.
- Blooming/fruiting (spring), attractive to birds etc.
- Mostly compact, upright form
- Drought-tolerant
- Low maintenance
- Easy to reproduct from seed
- Good for shrub walls if you want


- Birds will poop out the seeds, and it can spread (not invasive)
- Doesn't do well with ice storms, apparently

All in all, I think this is the *perfect* tree/shrub for these particular neighbors.

This is a bittersweet moment, though. Sweet because it's perfect, perfect, perfect!! Bitter because I transplanted it once already and it shocked the plant, badly, and because I transplanted it a mere 12"-14" from their front patio, which means it's gotta be moved again.

Good part is, if it doesn't handle the next transplant very well, I have another one on the side of my house I can replace it with.

And if I want more, as soon as this joker fruits, I can always plant some more :)

I officially declare this as a perfect native shrub for people who hate impossible-to-kill, prickly, annoying Holly trees/shrubs ;)

RE: Wax Myrtle as a foundation plant?

Great solution.

Actually there are so many questions for evergreen plants that about a year ago I made myself a one page document of all native evergreen shrubs/trees for the Atlanta area and grouped them by size and light requirements. That way I can just scan through the list when people ask for suggestions.

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