Information About Chilean Myrtle

Information About Chilean Myrtle

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Chilean Myrtle Care: Tips On Growing Chilean Myrtle Plants

By Bonnie L. Grant, Certified Urban Agriculturist

Chilean myrtle is an evergreen tree with cinnamon sloughing bark that reveals a creamy orange pith. With their rich history and attractive features, one might wonder about growing these plants in the garden. This article will provide additional information.

Solanum, Chilean Nightshade, Chilean Potato Tree, Chilean Potato Vine 'Glasnevin'


Water Requirements:

Sun Exposure:


This plant is resistant to deer

Foliage Color:




USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 °C (20 °F)

USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 °C (25 °F)

USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 °C (30 °F)

USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 °C (35 °F)

USDA Zone 11: above 4.5 °C (40 °F)

Where to Grow:


Bloom Color:

Bloom Characteristics:

Bloom Size:

Bloom Time:

Other details:

Soil pH requirements:

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:

Seed Collecting:


This plant is said to grow outdoors in the following regions:

Citrus Heights, California

Port Townsend, Washington(2 reports)

Gardeners' Notes:

On Jul 11, 2015, Highmtn from Cliff Dweller, WA (Zone 8b) wrote:

OMG. we have named this plant Seymour (from Little Shop of Horrors). It was small not that long ago, and now it's insane. The down side is it's just way too "wild child-ish" for where I planted it. The upside? The vigorous and generous parade of blooms make it's unruly nature well worth while. When I first met this plant it was trained on a large trellis. It's not a vine. .it's a bush. A very large, sprawling bush. I break all the pruning rules and give it an aggressive trim when I can't get my car out of the garage anymore. I love the bush but regret not planting it in a different place. Judging by the size of it's trunk(s) now.. I'll never be able to relocate it.

On May 20, 2009, edgeplot from Seattle, WA (Zone 8b) wrote:

I've grown this plant in my zone 8b Seattle garden for four years and it's doing great. It's covered in blooms from May to October and keeps its leaves year round. The stems are a little brittle and it benefits from growing on a support or through other plants. It's a vigorous grower but responds quickly to heavy pruning with a flush of new growth and blooms. It survived a week of heavy snow and several cold snaps down to 15F this winter and even retained its leaves. A great addition to the garden.

On Jul 7, 2006, bratbird from Chilliwack BC,
Canada wrote:

I work in Ladner, BC and we have a beautiful Chilean just down the road from our office. This plant seems to be doing very well, although it is only about 2.5m tall and 3m wide. We're in Zone 7b, so don't despair if you live below Zone 9a!

On Apr 28, 2006, fluffygrue from Manchester,
United Kingdom (Zone 8a) wrote:

Very impressed with this plant - only purchased it a year ago, and it's tripled in size and covered in flowerbuds at the moment. We grow it in dry acidic clay against a sunny wall, and it's thriving. Lovely thing.

I purchased a Chilean Potato Vine from our local garden centre approximately 3 years ago. I planted it alongside a 200 year old outbuilding on our farm here in West Wales, facing South East.

The soil at the foot of the wall was quite poor. The plant did fairly well. In the second year I applied a pile of used 'potting compost' (i.e. that had been in various containers the previous summer) to the surface. The plant really took hold and thrived.

We pruned it this spring, and this summer it has gone 'bolistic'!! It has always had a good cover of lovely flowers every summer right through to Autumn (Fall).

What amazes me is the size it is growing to. It has outgrown the height of the single storey building we planted it against! The spread is . read more relatively controlled being about 3-4 ft at present.

This plant has been really easy to grow, is very pretty and is also green in Winter. We are just 4 miles from the West Wales coast (Cardigan Bay) so have a relatively mild climate - but we do experience quite severe cold weather as well. Especially occasional bitterly cold Easterly winds which hit the plant full on. I have found other supposedly hardy but exotic plants have failed - including Phoenix Palms . despite protecting them in Winter. But the Chilean Potato Vine seems unaffected!

Soil in our area tends to be acidic, but I've tested various areas within our 12 acres and found most to be mid-range PH. The soil at the foot of the old stone wall is probably relatively dry. I watered it initially, but now it's root system is well established it doesn't seem to need watering.

I have to say I'm totally delighted with this plant. It looks great and seems to thrive on neglect!

I now intend taking soft wood cuttings so that I can plant it elsewhere around the farm - to detract from the corrugated sides to the barn and so on. Hopefully with similar success.

Tips and Tricks for Clementines

1. Clementine Trees flourish in full to partial sunlight. Even though they prefer full sun, they can tolerate shade.

2. Sandy soil is best for Clementine Trees, but they will adapt to your natural soil. To make your soil sandier, mix in sand or a finepotting mix. Just make sure that your soil is well-draining.

3. Don’t overwater your tree. Check on your soil every few days, and only give your trees water when your soil is dry to the touch, down to about 2 inches below the surface.

4. In the early spring and early fall, give your trees some citrus fertilizer that’s high in acidity. However, wait until your tree has had one year of growth before you fertilize it.

5. Clementine Trees produce white flowers in the springbeforetheir fruit begins to grow. Your fruit will be ripe and ready to be harvested towards mid-November when its skin fully turns orange.If you see green on the skin or around the stem, then your Clementines aren’t ready to be harvested.

6. Clementine Trees are recommended for growing zones 8 through 11 and are cold hardy down to about 20 degrees.

7. If you live in an area that gets colder than 20 degrees, plant your trees in containers and bring them indoors when it gets cold. These trees do extremely well in pots and indoors. Just place them by a large, sunny window and watch them take off.

These Southern California botanical gardens are a hidden treasure to discover

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Considering its 109-acre expanse, it does not really make sense to classify the Ventura Botanical Gardens as a hidden treasure located behind Ventura City Hall, it is hardly off the beaten path. Yet not enough people, especially gardening people, know about this unique horticultural project, and so it seems to be somewhat of a secret although I do not think it will remain that way much longer.

I call the Ventura Botanical Gardens a project because it is still very much at the early stages of development. Although founded in 2005, most of the plants were burned to the ground in the devastating Thomas Fire of 2017 yet considerable new planting, trail building, and retaining wall construction have been successfully completed since then.

What stands out when you visit the Ventura Botanical Gardens is their meticulous maintenance. In all 109 acres, I did not spot a single weed and barely a dead leaf could been seen among the flora on display. This is a credit to Dr. Joseph Cahill, the gardens’ executive director, his hard-working staff, and crews of volunteers. I was fortunate to be led through the gardens by Barbara Brown, who has led the gardens’ development since their inception. The gardens are located at 567 South Poli Street in Ventura and are open Tuesday to Sunday from 9-5. Admission is $7 for adults while children under 18 enter at no charge.

Soap bark tree source of vaccine adjuvant. (Photo by Joshua Siskin)

Aloe in South African garden. (Photo by Joshua Siskin)

Chilean wine palm with trunk blackened from Thomas Fire.

Rock purslane Cistanthe grandiflora. (Photo by Joshua Siskin)

Crepe myrtle. (Photo by Joshua Siskin)

The master plan of the Ventura Botanical Gardens incorporates plants indigenous to the five places on earth where what is known as a Mediterranean climate prevails. This climate is characterized by winter rain and long, hot, and arid summers and includes the following regions: areas that border the Mediterranean sea (in Europe, the Middle East, and North Africa), southwest Australia, California, South Africa, and Chile.

The Mediterranean climate domains that have received the most attention at the Ventura Botanical Gardens are South Africa and Chile. One South African garden is devoted exclusively to aloes, shrubby specimens of which are resplendent at this moment with grandiose wands of flaming red flowers. Tree aloes (Aloidendron barberae) have been liberally planted among them. The other South African garden, representing those incomparable Fynbos (coastal South African) species, has a number of robust Proteas and some Leucadendrons whose varietal name of ‘Burgundy Sunset’ suggests the color of their leaves.

Most of my attention was taken up by the Chilean plants on display and for good reason. In the words of the website at “When complete, it will be the largest Chilean Garden in the world outside of Chile.” My guide paused at the Chilean soap bark tree to extol its role in the development of the COVID-19 vaccine. The soap bark tree (Quillaja saponaria) gets its name from the chemical compounds under its bark that produce a cleansing soap. However, these compounds are also useful as an adjuvant for enhancing the efficacy of vaccines. Their adjuvant quality is expressed in boosting the immune response of cells to a virus, for example, by increasing cellular antibody production. Soap bark adjuvant has long been an ingredient in the vaccine formula for shingles and is being incorporated into the coronavirus vaccine as well. It is one of the most precious substances on earth as one gram of powdered soap bark adjuvant is worth more than $100,000. Maybe the new way of putting kids through college is to plant a grove of soap bark trees when they are born.

The soap bark tree is a handsome columnar evergreen with flawless foliage that is impervious to pests and suitable as a hedge. Starry greenish-white flowers in late spring attract all manner of beneficial insects and are followed by leathery fruit. The only caveat would be not to chew or ingest any parts of the tree due to their toxicity.

The other tree of note in this section of the gardens is the Chilean wine palm (Jubaea chilensis). This species is in danger of extinction because of the libation made from its sap that is extracted by felling the trees and chopping off their canopies which allows the sap to flow out freely. Although the Chilean wine palm is extremely hardy and grows as far north as San Francisco and Sacramento, it is not widely planted for two reasons: It grows more slowly and is much more expensive than other palms.

The wine palm has a peculiar habit of growth whereby its trunk reaches a significant diameter when the tree is only a few years old. Although scaly at first, the bark of the wine palm ultimately becomes silky smooth and turns a handsome gray. A mature wine palm has an elegance that is unmatched and is the kind of heirloom tree your grandchildren and theirs will appreciate as its lifespan exceeds several hundred years. It will eventually reach a height of sixty feet or more.

The fruit of the wine palm is edible and has the taste of coconuts but you will have to wait until the tree is 50 years old before it produces any. Unlike date palms, wine palms are monoecious, meaning that both male and female flowers are produced on the same tree.

Both soap bark and wine palm trees are available through San Marcos Growers. Access to find a retail nursery near you that carries their plants.

One of the most popular groundcovers in recent years is heavily planted at the gardens and I can only imagine what a site it is to see when its magenta-pink flowers are in full bloom. It’s a succulent known as rock purslane (Cistanthe grandiflora or Calendrina spectabilis) and is an excellent candidate for waterless parkway strips. Although more lush when regularly watered, rock purslane will grow just fine with a single monthly soaking.

Skytanthus acutus is yet another uncommonly beautiful Chilean species. It’s a member of the dogbane family and you will recognize the shape of its pinwheel yellow flowers in popular dogbane relatives such as vinca, oleander, star jasmine, and Natal plum (Carissa species).

There is a small nursery you may not know about that has a nice collection of some exotic succulents, unusual annuals, and precocious perennials at reasonable prices. Nelson’s Nursery, located at 23130 Sherman Way in Canoga Park, has a friendly and knowledgeable staff as well. It is open 9-5 seven days a week. There I found and brought home a purple ‘Night Sky’ petunia speckled in white, a coleus with light green foliage infused with dark violet markings, and a fire engine red florist’s kalanchoe (Kalanchoe blossfeldiana) whose flowers resemble tiny roses.

Tip of the Week: When thinking of crepe myrtle trees, first you think of their brilliant midsummer eruptions of crepe textured flowers in pink, purple, red, or white and then you think of their smooth, exfoliating bark that appears in a variety of colors from cream to cinnamon and is especially appreciated in winter when all leaves from this deciduous species have disappeared. Yet there is another crepe myrtle feature visible this time of year which truly makes it an ornamental tree for all seasons and I am talking about its fall leaf color. In truth, not all crepe myrtle foliage has the same luminescent gold, red, or burgundy glow so that you really need to pick out your tree in the autumn season to ascertain the color change its leaves will annually display when days shorten and temperatures cool.

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