Polygala myrtifolia “Little Charmer” – Sweet Pea Bush
Pea-like rich mauve-purple flowers appear on the tips of the stems almost all year around.
This is a rounded bushy shrub with oval mid-green leaves, growing to about 1M tall. This is not to be confused with a [justly] popular variety called “Little Bibi” which is a hybrid of P myrtifolia and P. oppositifolia with rather more succulent leaves.
‘Polygala’ is interpreted as ‘much milk’ since the plant was thought to stimulate milk production in European cows – ‘myrtifolia’ translates as ‘myrtle-shaped leaves’.
This is a dwarf selection of the P. myrtifolia species, which grows up to 4M tall in the fynbos ecosystem of South Africa’s Cape Province. There it is a fast-growing pioneer plant; that may be found on dunes, rocky places, along forest margins, beside streams, and in open grassland.
Soil / Aspect:
Best grown in a sunny warm site, P. myrtifolia “Little Charmer” will grow in almost any soil. However looks best in well fertilised, good soil. It does not tolerate wet soil over winter. Avoid cold frosty sites.
Best to trim annually to maintain a dense bushy shape. The timing is tricky as it comes into full flower in late winter. So probably best to enjoy it all summer and then trim in early autumn, allowing enough time for the bush to recover before winter. It does not rejuvenate well if cut back too hard.