Ephedra Not Growing
Answered by: Conrad Richter
Question from: Marilyn Zavitz
Posted on: August 26, 1999

Why does my ephedra not grow? It has, in three years, only grown maybe an inch. I put it in a larger pot in case that was the problem, but it still just sits there and does nothing. It looks healthy (I think), so if you have any suggestions I’d appreciate it.

Ephedra is a slow growing native of the drylands of the American southwest. It needs to be kept on the dry side. Too much water can slow growth. The soil pH should be neutral or slightly alkaline (7 to 7.5).

Also - is the tea tree really a tree, and would it grow in Toronto and last the winter? I have two needs: one for a hedge to plant between two sidewalks, and another for a tap root tree for a very small lot that would grow tall enough to shade second story windows. I would prefer that both of these be useful for food or medicine, and if possible be flowery or fruity, and scented. I don’t want much, do I <G>?

Both the tea tree (Melaleuca alternifolia – from which the antiseptic oil is extracted) and the true tea (Camellia sinensis) are not hardy in Toronto.

For the hedge there are no herbs that are suitable for hedging, are hardy in Toronto, are "flowery or fruity" and are scented. The only hardy herb that is suitable for hedging is privet (Ligustrum vulgare). Privet comes in variegated golden and green forms. Both forms would establish a dense hedge over several years. Privet will need regular clipping to maintain a hedge-like shape. Only Ligustrum vulgare is hardy in Toronto; the Chinese privet (L. lucidum) is not. Privet is used as a dye plant, and the white flowers are strongly scented.

For the shade tree, ginkgo might work. Ginkgo is hardy in Toronto. There are good-sized specimens in Queen’s Park. Ginkgo is slow to establish and could take 5-10 years to reach a size that would shade the second story. But there is no questioning the medicinal virtues of the plant. The leaves are one of the top ten selling herbal remedies in North America because of their brain function-boosting property.

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