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Polygala myrtifolia

Family: Polygalaceae (Polygala family)

Common names: September Bush (E); Septemberbossie (A);

Native to: Southern Africa
Shrub, Tree
A medium, evergreen, free-flowering shrub with showy pink to purple, sweet pea-like flowers.

Polygala myrtifolia

EVERGREEN

FULL SUN

FROST HARDY

MEDIUM WATER REQUIREMENTS

FAST GROWER

ATTRACTS BIRDS

ATTRACTS INSECTS

FLOWER COLOUR:

AVERAGE SIZE:

5m x 4m
FLOWERING TIME:
J F M A M J J A S O N D
FRUITING TIME:
J F M A M J J A S O N D

Polygala myrtifolia

DESCRIPTION

The September bush is a fast-growing, evergreen shrub or small tree that bears masses of attractive sweet pea-like flowers throughout the year, but is most prolific in September (hence its common name).

It is a magnificent addition to a wildlife-friendly garden as its sparse branches make excellent perches for many small birds and the flowers attract numerous insects.

NATURAL HABITAT & DISTRIBUTION
Occurs in a variety of habitats from moist evergreen forest to open grassy hillsides, along streams and on dunes.
WILDLIFE & ECOLOGICAL BENEFITS
Attracts birds and insects as it constantly has a source of nectar-rich flowers.
Birds eat the protein-rich seeds.
It serves as the larval host plant to the Lucerne Blue butterfly.
WATER REQUIREMENTS
Water moderately throughout the year.
MAINTENANCE
The September bush is low maintenance.
It loses leaves and flowers throughout the year which form an excellent mulch.
Dry twigs may be cut back to neaten the shrub but leave some which serve as perches for little birds.
LANDSCAPING USES
Excellent focal shrub to add colour to a particular part of your garden design.
An extremely beneficial plant to add to a wildlife-friendly garden.
GARDEN THEMES
Country, Rockery, Woodland
FLOWERS
The bright pink, pea-like flowers are up to 25mm in diameter and have 3 petals made up of 2 wings and 1 keel with a feathery white crest.
FOLIAGE
The leaves are simple and alternate with a smooth margin. They are oblong in shape, with a rounded apex and a tapering base. The leaves are approximately 5cm long x 1cm wide. They are light green and soft with an almost absent petiole.
BARK
Grey to brown and smooth.
FRUIT
The dried flowers split into a slightly winged capsule containing a tiny seed.
SEED
A small, oval, brown capsule is found in dried flowers that have been pollinated.
BUTTERFLY/MOTH HOST PLANT
Lampides boeticus (Lucern Blue)
PESTS & DISEASES
Seldom attacked by pests and diseases.
CULTIVATION
Easy to propagate from seed. It also readily self-seeds in the garden and seedlings can be transplanted.

47 Responses

  1. Hi Neil

    Thanks for visiting Plantbook.

    Polygala myrtifolia generally has a relatively short lifespan of 7-10 years before it becomes quite spindly. This may be shorter in your climate and growing in a container. So, sadly, your plant may be reaching the end of its life. You could try pruning the dead branches back which might help encourage new growth.

    Flourish!
    Glenice

  2. Hi I have had a September Bush (polgala) for maybe four years now and such a beautiful bush when flowering …its only maybe 4 ft in a large pot in our garden in the UK,Northamptonshire. It’s always survived the winter but this year it looks dead and spindly branches with the majority of leaves are dry and dead. Can’t see any growth lower down should I just prune back if so how far. Can send photo?

  3. Hi Paula

    Thanks for visiting Plantbook.

    That tree is about 3-4 years old.

    Under ideal conditions, Polygala myrtifolia is very fast-growing – 1-1.5m growth in a year.

    Flourish!
    Glenice

  4. This is a fabulous website! Thanks 🙂
    Can you tell me how old the tree is, pictured in front of the white wall with the bottlebrush behind it?

  5. Regarding the leaves turning yellow – check that the plant is properly supported. We had the same problem with yellowing leaves – but put in a deep stake and supported the plant- it survived and is thriving once more!

  6. Hi Resham

    Thanks for visiting Plantbook.

    Polygala myrtifolia has a fast growth rate so will work well as a screen. Note, however that your space is very narrow which could impact the growth.

    As this plant is considered a pioneer species it has a relatively short lifespan so expect it to last 5-10 years.

    Flourish!
    Glenice

  7. Hi

    Thanks for the lovely post.

    This shrub is beautiful. Can I use it as a privacy hedge – in durban area near coast? Looking for something around 1.5m high and about 0.5m in breadth.

    Thanks

  8. Hi Adri

    Thanks for visiting Plantbook.

    Yes, the leaves and flowers can be used to make compost but it would be best to mix them with other plant debris as that will ensure your compost is rich and balanced.

    Flourish!
    Glenice

  9. Good day all
    Our office ENGO Family care needs polygala myrtifolia seeds for youth project. Can anyone please help me in getting the seeds. I am in Kroonstad, and apparently nurseries don’t sell seeds

  10. Hi Jane

    Thanks for visiting Plantbook.

    Polygala myrtifolia can be grown from semi-hard wood cuttings in autumn, so you could try that. Otherwise, they do grow quickly from seed.

    Flourish!
    Glenice

  11. My gorgeous, 8 year old polygala myrtifolia is in a large pot balcony on my (sheltered, sunny) balcony in South Wales. It flowers all year. It’s getting a bit big (about 5’5 and wide and would love to try and take a cutting before I have to, unfortunately, plant out in communal gardens. I can’t buy another plant anywhere, only seeds. Please help!!!

  12. Hi Charlotte

    Thanks for visiting Plantbook.

    As far as I’m aware, Polygala myrtifolia is not easy to propagate from cuttings but best grown from seed.

    Flourish!
    Glenice

  13. Hi Juliet

    Thanks for visiting Plantbook.

    This is quite common for a 4-year old Polygala as it is reaching maturity.

    Cut off the dry stems and apply a generous layer of compost around the root zone which will help make the plant look healthier and encourage new growth.

    Flourish!
    Glenice

  14. I had my polygala plants for almost 4 years, every year we have nice blooms, but the plants are developing very long and slender and dry stems (light brownish), there are still lots of flowers but it looks kind of sick. Is it indicating that it is dying ? I don’t know if I can replant it somewhere.

  15. Hi Kobie

    Thanks for visiting Plantbook.

    Polygala myrtifolia is considered a pioneer plant with a relatively short lifespan, especially in a garden setting where we tend to give them more love than they’d typically get in the wild – e.g. over-watering, fertilising, etc.

    I’d recommend you check your watering system on the affected tree as both over-and under-watering can cause yellowing leaves. If your soil is particularly sandy, try to add some compost to the area around the tree. Perhaps also add some iron chelate, epsom salts or an organic fertiliser to give it a boost.

    Flourish!
    Glenice

  16. We have two September bushes approx 4 years old & about 2.5m tall. Lately the one’s leaves started to turn yellow. We live in Somerset West. What could be the cause?

  17. Hi Amanda

    Most nurseries in Centurion should have Polygala myrtifolia in stock.

    Flourish!
    Glenice

  18. Hi Anne

    Thanks for visiting Plantbook.

    Polygala myrtifolia does tend to have a relatively short lifespan particularly in Johannesburg. We’ve found that the plant reaches maturity around 5 years and is generally considered a pioneeer plant. You may wish to consider replacing your tree with another species such as:

    – Indigofera jacunda (River indigo)
    – Dyschoriste thunbergiiflora (Purple bells)
    – Freylinia tropica (Honeybells).

    Flourish!
    Glenice

  19. My bloukappie looks unwell yellow leaves dropping profusely.it is 5 years old.
    I am in Johannesburg we have had 2 spells of intensely hot weather.

  20. Hi Marile

    Thanks for visiting Plantbook.

    Allow at least 1.5m from a wall in order to give your plant room to grow.

    Flourish!
    Glenice

  21. Hi Valerie

    Thanks for visiting Plantbook.

    The conditions of your site will determine whether your Polygalas will survive indoors or out. Polygala can withstand cold temperatures, but being a plant originating from a warmer climate, I would recommend taking them indoors during the coldest time of the year.

    Flourish!
    Glenice

  22. where I bought my polygalas from [standard] type they said do not bring them in when winter comes but others say bring them in . Which is best conservatory or outdoors. North West UK. Thank you. Valerie.

  23. Hi Marijana

    Thanks for visiting Plantbook.

    It sounds like your Polygala myrtifolia is suffering from transplant shock.

    They usually recover from small wounds to the stem, so it sounds like you’ve given it the correct treatment. Give it a few months to see if it recovers and develops new growth.

    Flourish!
    Glenice

  24. Hi
    My polygala has dry leafs and I tried to dry out the soil because the problem was in too much water. It has a wound on the stem just above the soil. Its in the pot grown as a small tree.
    I planted it again , put some tape on the wound and I put some fertiliser, will that help?

  25. Hi Marianne

    Thanks for visiting Plantbook.

    Polygala myrtifolia can be trimmed back at most times of the year, but it’s best done after the peak flowering period which is spring. Since you’re about to enter this period in the northern hemisphere, you may prefer to wait until August/September to carry out your trimming exercise.

    Flourish!
    Glenice

  26. Hi Glenice.
    I really need your help. I have searched a lot of places on the internet, but without any help. We have the Polygala Myrtifolia in big pots in Malaga, Spain. I would like to cut them down , but what time of year is the best doing that?
    Kind regards and thank you
    Marianne Jørgensen – Denmark

  27. Hi Simone

    Thanks for visiting Plantbook.

    Polygala myrtifolia is a pioneer tree, so has a relatively short lifespan. As your tree is in a pot with limited space and nutrients, its lifespan may be shortened, depending on the size of the pot.

    Yellowing leaves in a potted plant are signs of many things, so you’ll need to investigate to find the cause in your case:
    – Over-watering
    – Plant is pot-bound and needs to be transplanted to the ground or to a larger pot
    – Nutrient deficiency – you’ll need to apply a general fertiliser, preferably organic

    Flourish!
    Glenice

  28. I am growing a September bush in a pot. However, of late the leaves are yellowing and drooping. Any ideas?
    Thanks

  29. Hi Letitia

    You’re likely to find it at one of the following:
    – Growwild (Kyalami)
    – Random Harvest Nursery (Muldersdrift)

    Flourish!
    Glenice

  30. Where can you buy polygala myrtifolia in Johannesburg needs to be at least 2.5 m in height

  31. HI yvonne

    Polygala myrtifolia is considered a pioneer tree, so has a shorter lifespan. There isn’t much information on their lifespan as that is influenced by several environmental factors. However, I’ve seen some 15-year old specimens around Gauteng which are still looking great.

    Flourish!
    Glenice

  32. Hi plant book please advise of the life span of this most lovely tree. They are our favourite and I bring their branches inside…they are wonderful in vases too

  33. Hi Christine

    Thanks for visiting Plantbook.

    Polygala myrtifolia
    will not grow well in full shade. However, I’ve seen it growing well in a semi-shade position where it receives about 4 hours of dappled sunshine.

    They do not transplant easily beyond 1 year’s growth. As they are fast-growing, it may be best to purchase a new plant.

    Flourish!
    Glenice

  34. Hi Heather

    Thanks for visiting Plantbook.

    Polygala myrtifolia is quite hardy and your rescue may survive. Keep the soil moist. It may droop and loose some leaves, but persevere with your care. A feed with liquid fertiliser may also give it an additional boost.

    Flourish!
    Glenice

  35. Just rescued a 2m x 1m polygala myrtifolia from lying on the ground of the junkyard of a local plant nursery. It has few leaves but masses of flowers. Rushed home to plant it immediately. Hope it will survive.
    Any recommendations for help?

  36. Hi Chris

    Thanks for visiting Plantbook.

    This should be available at most nurseries. If not, ask your local nursery to source one for you.

    Flourish!
    Glenice

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