It is native to southern Europe and the Mediterranean region, and is an evergreen shrub that in the right conditions can grow to 3m high, although here in Britain don’t expect it to grow more than about 1.5m high. Its sweet leaves and flower buds are often used in Mediterranean cooking, and provides year round interest in the garden or allotment.
Myrtle is not fully hardy, so well worth growing in a container. Most will survive to temperatures of down to -10C so they can be left out all year round, but if you have an unheated greenhouse it is well worth bringing them in over the harshest part of the winter – if you don’t they will survive all but the worst of the British winter, although the frost will damage the shoots and leaves (prune these out in spring).
Feed with liquid fertiliser during the flowering season.
It should be grown in full sun, but sheltered from harsh wind, and prefers a light and well drained soil.
Take semi ripe cuttings in mid-summer.
Myrtle leaves and berries are a common ingredient in Mediterranean cooking, and are also used in some liqueurs and salad dressings. The berries are often dried and used in a similar way to juniper berries.