Azara microphylla is a shrub or small evergreen tree originating in South America, but it has also spread to our territory.
If the growing conditions are favorable it can reach considerable dimensions, up to 3-4 m of height and 1,5-2 m of width.
The foliage is rounded, very branched, dense; the leaves are small, oval, dark, shiny and leathery. at the beginning of spring it produces a large quantity of small cream-colored flowers, intensely scented with vanilla, with a feathery appearance, made up of bunches of stamens.
A. serrata has larger leaves, produces yellow-orange flowers and small white berries in autumn.
A. M. variegata has paler leaves variegated with cream yellow. The azara leaves are very decorative and the cut branches are often used in floral compositions.
If the plant tends to have too long a bearing it can also be pruned drastically, to give it the desired shape and posture.
The Azara microphylla prefers partially shaded positions, which enjoy the rays of the sun for at least 2-5 hours during the day, possibly in the afternoon.
It bears short periods of frost without problems, but is not suitable for places with very cold winters; the young plants must be protected with TNT in the winter period, to prevent the frosts from ruining the leaves.
Finally, the soil around the stem can be covered with leaves and straw, or with mulching material so that the plant remains more protected from the rigors of winter.
Azara microphylla should be watered regularly from February to October, that is to say in its vegetative period, especially in the hottest periods of the year as it fears the sultry heat and the dry soils; in winter, avoid watering completely, as prolonged periods of drought could compromise plant development. However, avoid excessive water stagnation.
If the plant is cultivated in pot, even if it is rather difficult given the height it can reach, it will need a greater quantity of water since the soil around it will tend to dry out more quickly and will not be able to enjoy the humidity present in full ground.
This plant loves loose, well-drained soils, rich in organic matter. If the soil in our garden is very heavy, it is advisable to prepare a very large hole and to place expanded clay or lapillus on the bottom to improve drainage and composting soil.
In summer it is possible to practice semi-woody cuttings, using 7-10 cm portions of the tips of the branches; let it mix in a mixture of sand and peat in equal parts, then cultivate in a container in a protected place for at least 2-3 years before placing it in the garden to give new plants greater strength and consistency.
Azara microphylla: Pests and diseases
Azara microphylla can be attacked by aphids and scale insects; for this reason it is advisable to intervene with a preventive treatment with insecticidal substances, before, of course, the appearance of the flowers.