Myrica californica

Pacific wax myrtle
Upright glossy leaved chaparral shrub. Naturally dense, prune into an open form, or even sheer as a hedge. Insignificant flowers are followed by blue berries loved by birds. Adaptable, fast.
Myrica californica
synonyms Morella californica
height 15–30ft
width 10–20ft
tolerates Coast, Cold, Drought, Deer , Gophers, Heat, Moist Soil, Pots, Rooftops, Neglect, Wind
Being a California native from dry hillsides, this plant is very drought tolerant and will survive without water once established, given the right position and winter rainfall. That said, it looks its best with deep intermittent waterings during hot dry months.

Water Pacific wax myrtle infrequently, when the top three inches of soil feel dry. Usually this will mean every week or two in dry weather. If you establish this pattern over several years, then you can cut back to watering every four to six weeks in dry weather or possibly even not at all (let your plant take the lead). Use drippers, emitters, or a slow stream of water so that it does not run off; allow the water to trickle all the way down through the deepest layers of soil. In a pot slowly water the entire surface until water comes out of the bottom of your pot.

This plant, unlike some plants from our native chaparral, is also adaptable to regular water or even high water, given good drainage.
exposure Part Shade – Full Sun
drainage In Ground: Planting Mix, In Pots: Potting Soil, Tolerates Heavy Soil, Tolerates Sandy Soil
fertilizing Low Needs
origin Ca, USA
5–9, 14–24

Sunset Zones Map

Outdoor Exposure Guide


Full Sun
Six or more hours of sun beams directly landing on the plant's leaves.

Part Shade
Three to five hours of sun beams directly landing on the plant's leaves.

Part Sun
One to two hours of sun beams directly landing on the plants leaves.

Full Shade
The plant is never fully lit by sun beams, but is in a bright spot or has dappled sunbeams playing over the leaves throughout the day.

Deep Shade
The plant never has dappled light on the leaves, and is in a place that feels dim, even on a nice sunny day.


Growing Notes

Champion wind block doubles as a privacy screen.
Can be pruned up into a small tree, this is best done early on.
This plant responds well to extreme pruning, as evidence by its quick rebound from devastating fire damage. It can be cut to the ground and will rebound quickly. Pruning is best done in the fall or early spring.
Being quite cold hardy this plant can also be grown in interior California, where it will want more water and a bit of protection from hot afternoon sun.

Special Interest

This plant is most common along the California Central Coast, though its range extends as far south as LA and as far north as British Colombia!

The waxy leaves of Pacific wax myrtle have a mild spicy flavor that can be substituted for bay leaves to season food. We have heard that the Native Americans of California chewed the leaves of this plant and even gave it a try ourselves. With their gummy wax and subtle sweet taste they make a somewhat agreeable gum if you’re ever on a long hike in the chaparral.