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Myoporum Parvifolium (my-OH-por-um, par-vee-FOH-lee-um) is a spreading shrub from the Scrophulariaceae or figwort family which absorbed the original family of myoporaceae.
It is an evergreen perennial native to South Australia, where it occurs from the Eyre Peninsula to southwestern regions of New South Wales to Victoria in the east.
It is also widely found alongside the Murray River and on Flinders Island.
Throughout its natural habitat, the plant is mainly seen growing alongside river flats, limestone cliffs, and in woodlands.
The figwort species is generally known with the following common names:
- Creeping myoporum
- Creeping boobialla
- Dwarf native myrtle
- Small leaves myoporum
All the names of the Myoporum plant, including both the botanical and common names, refer to its properties.
The word Myoporum comes from two Greek words – ‘myo’ meaning to shut and ‘poros’ means a pore.
It refers to the transparent spots on the leaves of this plant.
Parvifolium, on the other hand, comes from two Latin words – ‘parvus’ meaning small and’ folium’ meaning leaves – and refers to the size of its leaves.
Similarly, the common names refer to the small size of the plant and its leaves and to the plant’s growth habit (creeping).
Myoporum Parvifolium Care
Size & Growth
As the name suggests, creeping boobialla is prostrate, spreading shrub, which can form a ground cover as wide as 10’ feet in diameter.
It features small, egg-shaped, sessile green leaves, which are fleshy, glabrous, and alternately arranged on long, trailing stems.
Sometimes, the leaf tips feature some serrations along the margins while sometimes the leaves have small round warty outgrowths on their surface.
Myoporum evergreen shrubs are easy to grow because of their hardiness and ability to adapt to a variety of growing situations.
Flowering and Fragrance
The plant produces small star-shaped white flowers, with purple spots, from the leaf form axils.
Growing on a small stalk, the flowers can either be solitary or in small clusters; with two to three blooms.
They feature five lance-shaped sepals along with five petals, all of which join together at the base forming a small tube.
The flowers also have four stamens.
The blooming period lasts from fall to spring (October to March) in South Australia but varies slightly in New South Wales where it starts in winter and lasts till summer.
Flowering is followed by the production of small, round, and succulent yellowish-white berries, which turn purple upon maturity.
Light & Temperature
Myoporum parvifolium prefers full sun but also grows well in partial shade.
However, it is not winter-hardy and can only tolerate temperatures down to 23° degrees Fahrenheit (-5° C).
It is hardy to USDA hardiness zones 9 to 11.
Watering and Feeding
Water the newly planted myoporum shrub once a week or when the upper 2” inches layer of the soil has dried out.
The water needs of established creeping myoporum plants are very low, so reduce the watering once the shrub gets established.
Deeply water the established boobialla plants once in one to two weeks in the summer, depending on how hot the weather is.
Reduce the watering even further in the fall and winter seasons.
The plant is highly drought-tolerant and can survive long dry spells.
Feed the parvifolium plant with a low-phosphorus, slow-release fertilizer at the time of planting and then once a year, after pruning.
Soil & Transplanting
This figwort species grows best in well-drained sandy soil, but also easily grows in clay and loamy soil.
However, the soil has to be well-draining and has a pH below 7 as the plant cannot tolerate alkaline soils.
Test the soil before planting and if it is alkaline, add peat moss to it to lower the pH.
Grooming and Maintenance
Since creeping myoporum spreads rapidly, this plant type needs to be pruned to prevent excessive growth and to maintain a tidy appearance.
Late winter or early spring is the best time to prune.
Make sure to fertilize the plant immediately after pruning as it helps the plant to recover quickly.
Removing dry, damaged, or dead flowers encourage more blooms.
Bermuda grass can grow around prostrate myoporum and can creep into the soil absorbing all the water and nutrient from the soil.
To prevent its growth, apply a couple of inches thick mulch around the myoporum plant and fertilize it annually.
How To Propagate Myoporum Parvifolium
Creeping boobialla is easily propagated by softwood stem cuttings.
Plant the cuttings in spring, after the end of the frost season.
Plant the cuttings about 5’ to 6’ feet apart and add a couple of inches thick layer of mulch on the base to help the soil retain moisture.
Myoporum Parvifolium Pest or Diseases
These Australian native plants may get affected by chocolate root rot and spider mites.
While the flower color of this prostratum species is inconspicuous, the plant attracts bees during the bloom time but is deer-resistant.
Myoporum Parvifolium Uses
Due to its growth habit, dwarf native myrtle is a popular choice for ground covers.
Since its leaves are semi-succulent, it is also a good choice for areas where water conservation is required.
The shrub may also offer some help in erosion control.
It has also proven to be a successful ornamental plant in southern California.