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The polygala is a small to medium sized shrub, it seems to be a nursery hybrid, originating from species of African origin. There are hundreds of polygal species, spread throughout the globe, even in Italy, most of which are perennial grasses.
There poligala myrtifolia develops a dense, well-branched shrub, with quite flexible, woody stems, of gray color; the leaves are light green and the plant in the right growing conditions has evergreen growth.
The leaves are reminiscent of those of the myrtle, despite having larger dimensions, and a color with a greyish shade, very different from that of the leaves of the myrtle. From late spring until autumn, the poligala it produces innumerable pink-lilac buds, united in corymbs at the apex of the branches.
This shrub generally does not exceed 150-200 cm in height; located in the garden, in a well-lit and sunny position; it does not fear the summer heat and well tolerates even the drought. Watering, from April to the end of autumn, will be regular, and to be carried out only when the soil is well dry, and avoiding water stagnation.
The polygale myrtifolia well withstand summer heat, but they fear frost, especially if very intense and persistent; for this reason they are cultivated in the garden in full ground only in areas with mild winters.
In areas with harsh winters they are instead planted in pots, so that they can be moved to a sheltered place in winter; it may be sufficient to place the vase near the house; covered with non-woven fabric, or sheltered on the terrace. In areas where frosts are very intense it is necessary, in winter, to shelter the polygala in a cold greenhouse.
At the end of winter we prune the shrub; shortening all the branches, so as to favor the development of numerous shoots and branches, in order to obtain a dense beautiful shrub. Over the years polygala it tends to empty itself in the lower part of the stem, developing new branches and flowers only in the upper part of the shrub.
The polygala is not a delicate plant, but if it is cultivated in a very heavy or damp soil it is easy to fall prey to rot, which can ruin even the entire shrub; for this reason we avoid excessive watering, and also cultivation in excessively compact or poorly drained soil.
Often young buds are attacked by aphids and potted specimens are often prey to cochineal; which nestles preferably on plants exposed to poor ventilation.
To prevent the development of aphids and cochineal already in late winter, before the plant produces floral buds, we practice a treatment with a good insecticide based on pyrethrum, or with a biological aficida; avoid using insecticides or fungicides during flowering, to avoid hitting useful insects with chemicals.
A particular name
The name polygala, which also baptizes the entire Polygalacee family derives from the Greek; and means "so much milk".
In fact in ancient times in Europe it was believed that small plants of polygala myrtifolia grazed by cows increased milk production.
For this reason, the small plants of polygales of European origin were used in folk medicine to increase milk for mothers.
Polygala - Polygala myrtifolia: Soil for polygala
Polygala plants love medium-textured soils, very well drained and not subject to water stagnation. We can plant our polygala in a substratum consisting of soil for lemons, or from very rich universal soil, mixed with little pumice stone or lapillus, which increases drainage.
In the nursery or in the garden centers we find the so-called universal soil, a type of neutral ph soil enriched with medioperlite or pietrapomice or with small porous pebbles, able to improve transpiration and aeration of the soil avoiding stagnation.
The universal soil has prices ranging from 4 to 7 euros depending on the quality and the prices adopted by the seller. Soils with vegetable humus are preferable to those with animal fertilizer for people who do not tolerate the smell of manure and mature manure (although of a very light smell thanks to the numerous natural ripening treatments that are carried out).