Bayberry Shrub: Care and Growing Guide

Botanical NameMyrica pensylvanica
Common NamesBayberry, northern bayberry, wax myrtle
Plant TypeDeciduous shrub
Mature Size5 to 10 feet tall, similar spread
Sun ExposureFull sun to part shade
Soil TypeDry to moist, well drained soil
Soil pH6.0 to 7.5
Bloom TimeMay
Flower ColorYellowish-green (insignificant)
Hardiness Zones3 to 7 (USDA)
Native AreaEastern North America

The Spruce / Adrienne Legault 

The Spruce / Adrienne Legault 

The Spruce / Adrienne Legault 

The Spruce / Adrienne Legault

How to Care for Bayberry Shrubs

Grow bayberry shrubs in full sun. They are not at all fussy about the soil in which they grow, as long as it is well-drained. These are bushes that grow in very dry ground (even sand dunes) as well as at the edges of marshy areas. Because they are nitrogen fixers, these plants can thrive in poor soils where other plants would struggle..

Bayberry shrubs spread by root suckering in the same way that forsythia bushes do, so you may need to remove new plants if you don’t want them to colonize and blanket an area. Or, if you have the space, you may value their ability to spread, especially if you are a bird-watcher. Wild birds are more likely to frequent a property that affords some cover, and a thicket of bayberry is perfect for this purpose.

The fragrance of the leaves provides more benefits than you might think: besides repelling deer. the smell seems to keep insect pests at bay. This plant has almost no issues with pests and diseases.

Light

Bayberry shrubs will grow well in full sun to part shade.

Soil

This plant thrives best in moist, peaty soil, but it will do nearly as well in dry, sandy soil. It prefers soil that is somewhat acidic but will tolerate neutral and slightly alkaline soils.

Water

Bayberry will tolerate both drought and wet conditions. In most environments, there will be no need to water it at all. This adaptable shrub also thrives in boggy conditions.

Temperature and Humidity

This plant grows well in the climate conditions throughout its hardiness range, USDA zones 3 to 7, and are tolerant of salt and sand.

Fertilizer

There is no need to feed bayberry shrubs. It is a “nitrogen fixer”—a plant that extracts nitrogen from the air, so it grows quite well even in poor soils. Over time, bayberry shrubs will improve the nutritional value of the soil. Bayberry is often used in soil restoration efforts.

Pruning Bayberry Shrubs

You do not need to prune bayberry shrubs often (if at all) since they are slow-growing. In fact, you should take care to avoid any pruning that would ruin the form. If rejuvenation pruning is in order, take advantage of their root-suckering quality and prune them as you would prune overgrown lilacs, removing a third of the old growth each year for three successive years.

Propagating Bayberry Shrubs

Like many shrubs, bayberry is best propagated by rooting softwood or semi-softwood cuttings:

Immediately after the blossoms have faded, take a 6-inch cutting from vigorous side branches, making the cut just below a leaf node. Remove all the leaves from the lower half of the cutting and dip this end in rooting hormone.

Plant the lower end of the cutting into a small container filled with wet sand. Keep the cutting misted with water and covered with a plastic bag. Water the sand whenever it becomes dry to the touch. Within three weeks or so, roots should appear, and after another two weeks, you can transfer the plant to a larger pot filled with standard potting mix. Allow to grow through the summer, then plant into the garden in the fall.

Varieties of Bayberry

In landscape use, it is usually the native species that is planted. Only one cultivar exists, ‘Wildwood’. Developed from four superior strains of the native species, ‘Wildwood’ is semi-evergreen, growing 6 to 7 feet in height.

Bayberry Shrub vs. Southern Bayberry

M. pensyvania is often known as Northern bayberry to distinguish it from a related plant known as southern bayberry (Myrica cerifera). This bush is also native to the eastern seaboard, but generally is found further south. Both are in the wax myrtle family.

Myrica cerifera, the southern relation, grows larger and bears evergreen leaves, making it useful in hedges designed to function as outdoor privacy screens.

Landscape Uses

Bayberry is a versatile shrub that is often planted in groups or masses in woodland gardens, for screens or informal hedges, or on banks for erosion control. With good tolerance for salty soils they do well at seashore properties and along roadsides that are salted in winter. It is often used to stabilize areas with shifting sand dunes.

While bayberry shrubs fade somewhat into the background during the summer and autumn, they are valued for the novelty the gray berries afford to the winter landscape and for their ability to attract birds.

Bayberry is valued as being one of the fragrant plants of landscaping that does not rely on blooms but on their leaves. This means that you’ll be able to enjoy their scent all summer and fall. As you go by the bush, press hard on a leaf; this will release the fragrance into the air.

Disclaimer: Curated and re-published here. We do not claim anything as we translated and re-published using google translator. All images and Tattoo Design ideas shared only for information purpose.

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