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Myrtle family. Homeland - Southern Europe, North Africa. The plant myrtle Myrtus communis is an evergreen tree or shrub that grows about 3 meters in height under natural conditions. Leaves are narrow, lanceolate, small, 1-1.5 cm long, opposite, on very short petioles. It blooms for 4-5 years with small flowers about 2 cm in diameter, the corolla of the flower is five-petal, white. Fruits are dark blue oblong berries.
Translated from the ancient Greek, myrtle means “balm, myrrh”. And not without reason, because the essential oils obtained from the leaves of myrtle are effective for the treatment of a number of diseases. And phytoncides secreted by myrtle leaves are capable of disinfecting indoor air, freeing it from pathogens.
In ancient Greece, myrtle was a symbol of purity and chastity. The heads of the brides were decorated with myrtle wreaths.
The ancient Greeks planted whole myrtle groves, and constantly used the wonderful properties of myrtle in everyday life and medicine: they washed themselves with an infusion of myrtle leaves, the fruits of myrtle were added to wine, they treated lung and blood diseases, wounds and burns with fresh leaf juice.
Myrtle is one of the most common and simple plants among bonsai lovers. The shoots of myrtle are quite plastic, they can be easily formed by wire. But most importantly, myrtle has a dense crown and small leaves, it tolerates pruning well.
Temperature: moderate, in winter the optimum temperature is 8-10 ° C. In general, myrtle is not quite suitable for the home, rather it is a plant for a winter garden, but many, nevertheless, grow it in apartments. The difficulty in growing myrtle at home is that it needs a cold winter. Indoor myrtle tolerates a drop in air temperature in winter to +7 ° C, but reacts very badly to dry air, lack of light at high temperatures. In summer, it is advisable to keep it outdoors - on the balcony or in the garden.
If you have an insulated balcony, veranda, terrace or winter garden where there is enough light, and in winter the temperature does not drop below + 6-7 ° C, you cannot imagine better conditions. Fresh air, cool wintering, enough sun in the morning or evening, and myrtle will live with you for many years.
The myrtle tree grows vigorously with good care, and can reach about 1-1.5 m in height in 3-5 years. Such an instance is not transplanted into a pot, but a small tub.
Lighting: Myrtle is light-requiring and requires good lighting at home. He must be given the brightest and sunniest place. With a lack of light, especially in autumn and winter, the shoots stretch out, acquire a light green tint, the twigs are very thin, herbaceous, the leaves are small and sparse. If the plant is forced to stand in an insufficiently cool place in winter, it is necessary to install lamps nearby (fluorescent or LED). Myrtles grow well on a sunny east window, on the southeast - ideally, on the south and west, you may need shading during the hottest hours of summer. On the north side, myrtles grow, but more slowly, and provided that from the street windows do not shade houses and trees.
Watering: abundant from spring to autumn, drying the top layer of the earth. Loosen the soil in the pot periodically closer to the edges. In winter, with a decrease in temperature, water is less often, more drying, but not allowing complete drying. Myrtle has a good guide to the need for watering: watch the very tips of the shoots, when the ground begins to dry out, they sink. If this moment is missed, the branches can finally droop and dry out. Overdrying is hard for the plant, shoots and leaves are not restored. The root system is fibrous, quickly consumes moisture and dries up. But excessive watering is also fraught with root rot and plant death. Myrtles do not like watering with hard and chlorinated water.
Top dressing: during the period of active growth with complex fertilizer for indoor plants. Top dressing is carried out every two weeks. If the plant was transplanted, you need to refrain from feeding for a month or a half.
Air humidity: all myrtles love high air humidity - 60% is optimal, so if your hygrometer shows less than 40%, it is worth starting to spray. From time to time, plants can be rinsed under a warm shower. If the humidity is below 30%, turn on the humidifier.
Transplanting young myrtle bushes is carried out annually. An adult myrtle tree is transplanted after 3-4 years, but the top layer of the earth is changed annually or as needed, if a salt deposit appears - a gray-red effusion on lumps of earth. Soil 2-3 parts of sod, 1 part of peat land (or leaf), 1 part of humus, 1 part of fine gravel (very coarse sand) or vermiculite, 1 part of chopped pine bark.
The main problem with myrtle is dry air and too high a temperature in winter - while the leaves on the plant begin to turn yellow and fly around, and the branches dry. Such a plant is easily affected by the scale insect and spider mite.
If you do not have the opportunity to transfer the myrtle to a cooler room, you need to fence off the edge of the window sill where the pot is standing from the warm air with a greenhouse film - stretch it around the edge to a height of 50-60 cm.Periodically spray the leaves, and if the shoots are stretched out, then light up. Instead of a film, you can install a glass frame, or better, thin plexiglass or polycarbonate, on the very edge of the window sill. This design allows you to maintain the temperature on the windowsill around 18-20 ° C, and if the frames are wooden, then even lower.
Another problem with myrtle is pests. Mealybugs and mites can clearly and seriously harm it. Both, if they are not detected in time and measures are not taken, they can destroy a small bush in 3-4 weeks. Worms are similar to white cotton balls, they are destroyed with the drug Aktara or Confidor (other means are also effective), and ticks must be removed with the help of acaricides - fitoverm, actellik, apollo, vermitek, etc.
About growing a myrtle tree, lessons from masters and details of the formation of myrtle - read Myrtle tree
Reproduction of myrtle
Traditionally, myrtle is propagated by cuttings. In the spring, cuttings about 10 cm long are cut and rooted in water, there is no need to add growth stimulants. Usually, in light and warm seasons, cuttings form roots very quickly. When they grow 3-4 cm, they can be planted in pots. Soil for young plants needs a looser and lighter soil than for adults: take 3 parts of store soil (for example, Terra Vita), 1 part of well-rotted manure (humus), 1 part of chopped pine bark. Humus can be replaced with garden soil taken from a vegetable garden where manure was applied. But no matter what soil you make, the prerequisites are: a slightly acidic reaction (pH 5.5-6) and mandatory sterilization in the oven (30 minutes) or in the microwave (5-7 minutes).
After planting, water the rooted cuttings and place them in a warm, bright place. When the growth of shoots begins, you can estimate the shape of the future tree or trunk and form the plant by pinching and pruning.