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Growing Pacific Wax Myrtle Hedge in Vancouver BC

12 years ago

Hi there,

I want to plant a privacy hedge this spring and was originally planning on using Portuguese Laurel, however I have decided not to use this plant because of it's invasiveness.

After reading a few forum threads it seems that Pacific Wax Myrtle might be the shrub for me.

Will this plant thrive in the Vancouver BC climate with it's native origin being California/ Oregon? I do not live right on the water but a mile or so inland and a few hundred yards above sea level, enough so that it might be a couple degrees colder in my yard than on the shore in the winter.

Also does anyone know how readily available this plant is in my local gardening stores/ nurseries?

If planted close to a fence (2-3ft) will it pose a danger to damaging the fence in the long term like Laurel?

Is it possible to grow Pacific Wax Myrtle over 8ft tall while keeping to around 3-4ft wide?


Comments (17)

  • muddydogs
    12 years ago

    Wax Myrtle is semi deciduous and an iffy year round screen. Portugal laurel looks great
    covered in thick foliage after a 3F year low 2 winters
    in year 8 and 9 in the last decade.
    Portugal laural has been an assett for me.
    Never a baby.
    Looks thick and green.

  • zenshack
    Original Author
    12 years ago

    Thanks for the replies.

    At the moment the biggest issue with the PW Myrtle for me might be trying to find someone who sells it. I have called two shrub/tree sellers near me, one had never heard of it?! And the other knew of it but had never carried it (They are part of a big garden center chain). Their buyer even checked the order list from an Oregon nursery they dealt with and it wasn't available for order. Of course their are lots of other nurseries that I can call in the surrounding area but things don't look promising at the moment.

    So barring that my remaining choices seem to be the Portuguese Laurel or more Emerald Cedars which I already have a row of. The issue is a combination of space (width), money and wanting to achieve privacy as soon as possible.

  • gardengal48 (PNW Z8/9)
    12 years ago

    As a native plant and rather ornamental one at that (not all natives are) as well as being very adaptable, wax myrtles are in high demand for various large native planting projects. Here, agencies like the DOT and DNR use them in quantity for various situations, not to mention landscapers working on various native reforestation/revegetation projects. They are always in short supply unless you can access a nursery/grower that propagates their own stock.

    I can say we sell them by the truckload at my nursery but that's not going to help you much :-) I'd keep looking if I were you - the myrtles are a much better choice than the other two.

  • Embothrium
    12 years ago

    Muddydogs is probably talking about Myrica pensylvanica.

  • larry_gene
    12 years ago

    Portugal laurel, although very dense and green year-round, gets huge. If there is a developed property on the other side of the fence, 2-3 feet is too close, or the neighbor will have to like to pull seedlings on their side, unless their ground is hard-surface.

    I had one for about ten years; kept it to 16 feet tall through repeated toppings, and tried to pick most of the berry clusters off while still green. It was 4 feet from a fence and still went way over.

  • Embothrium
    12 years ago

    A Portugal laurel I measured during 1992 at the Foster Golf Links in Tukwila was 45' tall with a trunk 12'6" around, and an average crown spread of 51'. It was part of two rows of several trees each, that formed a sort of allee where golfers where entering the course. Probably a remnant of an old nursery.

    When I drove by there a year or so ago it looked like the planting had been removed.

    A Pacific wax-myrtle at Seattle Pacific University was 30' tall, with an average crown spread of 30' 4-5 years ago. If you use this species you can expect to be doing some pruning of it as well.

  • Embothrium
    12 years ago

    There's also this plant. Rather prevalent at outlets down here.

    Here is a link that might be useful: The U.S. National Arboretum presents Euonymus japonicus 'Green Spire', a remarkable euonymus from Japan.

  • Lordtwig
    10 years ago

    In England, Beech Hedges (Fagus sylvatica) are very popular, bright green in the spring, dark green in summer and unusual for a hedge, the dead golden leaves, remain on the hedge during fall & winter, only making way for the springs new growth. I have yet to spot a Beech hedge in Vancouver BC, does anyone know of one?

    Gardens by Twig

    Here is a link that might be useful: Gardens by Twig

  • johnaberdeen
    10 years ago

    I disagree with the statement: "...since a native plant, poses no issues with invasive seeding such as both Portuguese and English laurel are prone to do." We planted several Pacific Wax Myrtles in a native garden many years ago and now have wax myrtle seedling popping up every where. So they can become a problem in other peoples flower beds. Both of the evergreen cherries are shade tolerant, the English more so than the Portuguese, so they are problems in wood lots that the wax myrtle wouldn't be.

    I like wax myrtle more so than the two evergreen cherries because it is native and has smaller leaves. But it has its problems. The wood is brittle breaking under heavy snow loads and with Vancouver B.C being at the mouth of the Frazier River with Artic flows coming down that valley, you get lot more snow than on Vancouver Island. The fall/winter of '10/11 caused a lot of damage to our myrtle with leaf kills, even whole stems, and the snow flattened the bushes. That spring we had to go in an remove all the broken and dead branches. Something that doesn't happen with the two cherries. Portuguese Cherry doesn't get as big as the English Cherry. Its leaves are not that much bigger than the myrtle's. I also noticed that it doesn't have any where near the invasive seedlings that the English cherry has. It might also be found at local nurseries more so than myrtle.

  • Embothrium
    10 years ago

    Lots of Portugal laurel seedlings are present in local wooded places now and as I noted above it has been known more than 50' across in this area.

    I do agree that the wax myrtle is not such an everyman of a plant suitable for wide use as is being made out here, being confined in the north to extreme outer coastal locations, going inland much only much farther south. I have seen it with discoloring of the foliage which appeared to be due to cold exposure and it often has a leaning, flopping habit even in presumably prime habitat where it is abundant and tall-growing, such as the Darlingtonia Wayside site near Florence.

  • dottyinduncan
    10 years ago

    Is wax myrtle deer resistent?
    Also, twig, there was a beech hedge planted at a home near me on Vancouver Island 20 years ago, or so. I didn't like the look of the leaves staying on all winter, but that's a personal choice.

  • Embothrium
    10 years ago

    I don't remember seeing damage, but deer often just nibble the very tips of things. And kinds of plants new to a site may be heavily sampled after planting, even when native to the region and mostly ignored on other sites where they already occur in some numbers.

  • johnaberdeen
    10 years ago

    I just spent this week pruning, chain sawing our Pacific Wax Myrtle bushes from the inch ice built up last week. They had broken branches and split trunks. Not a pretty site. While our one Portuguese laurel showed no damage.

  • Embothrium
    10 years ago

    There's a reason for it to hug the coast in nature - until it gets south of snow country - right there. If you think of it as a kind of evergreen, aromatic willow you are not far off.

  • locust8
    10 years ago

    @ zenshack: My folks stabilized a hillside in Pacific Beach, WA, using native plantings. My mom called the local highway dept for permission to take small seedlings as transplants within 15' of the highway margin(typical county lines on WA coast). These otherwise get sprayed with herbicide by the road crews. Your local highway department might allow that. We found plenty of wax myrtles on our coastal roads. FYI, they're not fast growers. And I agree that their natural habit probably isn't best suited for a hedge, but then again, I've never tried.

  • Embothrium
    10 years ago

    Lynnwood, WA Costco has closely sheared ones in the parking lot that seem to be quite suited to this. Might have something to do with it being outer coastal adapted, with an ability to recover readily from salt spray or other wind-related damage to the shoot tips.

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