15 August 2019
by Gail Theron
My very first Bonsai (created under the expert guidance of Bernard Coetzee) was a Myrtus communis. Perhaps this is why I am particularly fond of this species.
The common Myrtle is an evergreen shrub up to 3m with small, dark green, glossy, aromatic leaves. It has white flowers consisting mainly of a puff of stamens followed by single-stalked, blueish-black berries. It is used mainly for hedges and is drought-resistant.
I feel that they make very good subjects for Bonsai as the leaves are tiny and with the proper care it rewards one with a network of fine branches in a reasonably short time.
These trees are very vulnerable to certain pests, e.g. scale, mealie bug and aphids and due to the nature of the bark these are often only detected when the tree is somewhat debilitated. An application of Koinor, watered into the roots, will control these pests.
I have found that they don't like damp feet and should therefore have a soil mixture that drains well. I fertilise mine regularly with Hortisol and have them in a sunny position. I feel that it is not sufficient merely to pinch out shoots, one has to prune back quite often.
My Myrtles have brought me a tremendous amount of pleasure. They are readily available from nurseries and quickly develop into pleasing Bonsai. I can recommend them to beginners and experienced growers alike.