Common myrtles are attractive, low-maintenance evergreen shrubs with beautiful white flowers. Myrtles are also prized for their leaves, which can be used medicinally or in cooking. In this article, I’ll share my experience of why your myrtle plant might be dropping leaves and some essential tips to mitigate the issue in your garden.
Why Is My Myrtle Plant Dropping Leaves?
As evergreen shrubs, common myrtles (Myrtus communis) shouldn’t drop their leaves at any time of year. So, if your myrtle plant is dropping its leaves, it indicates a problem. Here are some of the problems that may cause myrtles to drop their leaves:
Common myrtles require slightly moist soils but are somewhat drought-tolerant. However, myrtle shrubs hate being waterlogged, caused by overwatering and poor soil drainage.
Waterlogged soil causes problems like root rot, resulting in myrtle shrubs losing leaves and watering your myrtle once every 2 to 4 weeks to prevent overwatering. Myrtles need well-draining soils that still hold some moisture. Mix in some grit, sand, or organic matter for dense, heavy soils to improve soil drainage.
Underwatering can also cause myrtle shrubs to lose their leaves. Myrtles need slightly moist soil and suffer if the soil dries out too much. Water myrtle shrubs once every 2 to 4 weeks to moisten the soil.
Myrtles suffering from underwatering will struggle to grow properly, which may cause them to drop their leaves. Water your myrtle more frequently during hot, dry summers to stop it from drying out.
Myrtles originate from the Mediterranean, Southern Europe, and parts of Asia and Africa. They prefer warm, humid conditions and mild winters. Myrtles grow best in USDA Zones 8 to 10 but can withstand winter temperatures as low as 10ºF (-12ºC).
However, even though myrtles are surprisingly cold-hardy, temperatures below freezing may cause them to lose their leaves. In cold areas, wrap myrtle trunks in horticultural fleece or grow them in pots and bring them indoors.
Extremely hot, dry conditions also cause myrtles to drop their leaves. Water myrtles more frequently in hot, arid areas to prevent leaf drop.
Too Much Sunlight
Myrtle shrubs require several hours of full sun during the day in mild climates. But myrtles need partial shade in hot, dry climates to protect them from the harsh direct afternoon sun. Sunlight is more intense in the afternoon than in the morning.
Myrtle shrubs can start dropping their leaves if exposed to too much intense afternoon sun. This causes the leaves to burn and sometimes drop off. Provide some shade during the afternoon and expose your myrtle to weaker morning sunlight.
Not Enough Sunlight
Myrtle shrubs can lose their leaves if they don’t receive enough sunlight. Myrtle plants require full sun or partial shade and cannot tolerate full shade for long periods. If your myrtle doesn’t get enough sunlight, it’ll produce weak, stunted growth and may fail to flower during the blooming season.
Plant myrtle shrubs in the south or west-facing aspects. These areas provide plenty of morning sunlight while protecting myrtles from the harsh afternoon sun. Avoid north-facing areas, as these locations create too much shade.
Diseases & Pests
Diseases and pests can also cause myrtle plants to drop their leaves. Pests such as aphids and scale insects suck the sap from myrtle plants, causing weak or stunted growth. Eventually, this can result in the myrtle losing its leaves.
Fungal diseases and problems like root rot also cause myrtle shrubs to lose their leaves. These diseases can be prevented by providing your myrtle with good growing conditions. Tackle pests using insecticidal soap or horticultural oils.
Myrtle Dropping Leaves FAQs
Do Myrtles Lose Their Leaves?
Myrtles are evergreen shrubs, meaning they don’t usually lose their leaves. If your myrtle is losing leaves, it’s likely suffering from a severe problem.
Why Are My Myrtle Leaves Turning Yellow?
Myrtle leaves may turn yellow due to root rot, which is caused by waterlogged soil. Nutrient deficiencies can also cause myrtle leaves to turn yellow.
How Often Should I Water My Myrtle?
Water established myrtles once every 2 to 4 weeks to keep the soil moist and more frequently in hot, dry summers to stop your myrtle drying out. Water newly planted myrtles once a week for the first two years to help them get established.
Myrtles can drop their leaves for various reasons, with the most common causes being overwatering, underwatering, and temperature stress. Water myrtles every 2 to 4 weeks to keep the soil moist. Grow myrtles in Zones 8 to 10 to provide the proper temperatures for optimal growth.