About sixty species of trees and shrubs belong to the genus Tamarix, with deciduous or evergreen leaves, originating in Asia and the Mediterranean; T. gallica is the most widespread species in cultivation, it is a small deciduous tree, which reaches 4-6 meters in height. It has an erect or inclined stem, with greyish bark, deeply wrinkled; the branches are dense and form a rounded crown. The young branches are very thin and flexible, often arched or pendulous; the leaves are very small, similar to small scales of light green color, sometimes almost bluish. At the beginning of spring the branches are filled with small spikes of tiny flowers, pink in color; the flowering is so abundant that the whole plant looks like a cloud of flowers. The flowers are followed by small capsule fruits containing seeds. The tamarisk they have been cultivated for centuries on the Mediterranean coasts; thanks to the fact that they tolerate winds and brackish water, they are often used to create windbreak hedges in coastal areas or even to solidify breakwaters. They can also be grown in pots or as bonsai.
The tamarisk is a beautiful shrub, very decorative, characterized by an abundant flowering carried on its fine branches. Its natural habitat is the coasts. All species of tamarisk are native to Europe, particularly in the Mediterranean regions, and in Asia, more precisely from China. In the gardens about 12 species are used, although often the names and classifications are a bit confused due to the difficulty of identification (sometimes possible only thanks to a microscope).
Its cultivation is rather simple since it adapts well to different climates and soils. It is also very resistant to diseases. It is therefore a great choice for those who want to insert a decorative plant that requires little maintenance.
|Family and gender|
|Type of plant||Evergreen or deciduous shrubs|
|Ground||Not demanding, possibly poor and sandy. Not heavy or clay soils|
|colors||Generally pink flowers, but also white, red, salmon|
|Flowering||Spring, summer, autumn depending on the species|
|Composting||Once a year, in the spring|
The tamarisk belongs to the genus Tamerix which has about fifty species and is part of the Tamaricaceae family. The habit can be bushy, rounded and in some cases even weeping. It grows spontaneously on the coasts of all Europe and Italy. If it is grown as a tree it reaches an average of 3 meters in height and width. In special cases, however, it can even grow up to 5 meters.
The flowering period depends on the species. Some bloom in spring, others in summer or autumn. This event is really noteworthy because all the branches are lightly covered with small flowers, usually pale pink, collected also in hanging, more or less long clusters. The aesthetic effect is of great elegance and lightness.
The tamarisk that bloom in spring, moreover, they do it before the appearance of the leaves. In this case the corollas cover all the branches and make the event particularly spectacular.
The foliage, light green and deciduous, is formed by numerous and very small alternate leaves in the shape of an elongated scale, fine and soft, directly attached to the branch. From a distance it could easily be mistaken for a juniper, but with the advantage of not having thorns.
They are rustic, robust, decorative shrubs and require very little care. This is why they are numerous in gardens, especially in coastal areas. They resist very well to the wind and are perfect both for use as an isolated specimen and for the formation of free hedges.
Inserting a tamarisk as an isolated specimen gives a Mediterranean touch to any garden.
These small trees prefer sunny areas, they need at least a few hours a day of direct sunlight to develop at best. They do not fear the cold, although it can happen that very intense frosts ruin the tips of the branches.
The best exposure for the tamarisk is without doubt the full sun. Only in these conditions will it be able to grow quickly and vigorously (as it is in its nature) and give us the beautiful blooms that we expect.
It tolerates a slight shade for a few hours a day, but more would be a serious obstacle to its well-being.
The Tamerici do not need excessively regular watering and can easily withstand even long periods of drought; they also tolerate brackish water near the roots. The young specimens are watered in the event of prolonged periods of summer drought, while long-standing trees can be satisfied with the rains.
They prefer very loose and fairly well-drained soils, even rich in limestone; it is advisable to add sand to the soil where you want to place a tamarisk.
The tamarisks grow very well in all types of soils, as long as they are well drained and are not excessively calcareous or moist. It is therefore excellent for all poor, sandy or dry soils.
Instead, avoid inserting it if the area is compact and excessively clayey.
In this case also the predisposition of a draining layer may not be sufficient.
If we really want to have it in the garden it will be necessary to dig a large hole, insert a large cement jar and fill it with suitable substrate, then with large amounts of sand, gravel and light soil.
In spring it is possible to sow small seeds as soon as the fruits open; in autumn we can take wood cuttings. The tamarisk is multiplied in nature with self dissemination, since it produces a myriad of seeds carried even away from the wind. It is very common to find small plants especially around large specimens. Not by chance in some areas (particularly in the United States), it is considered a highly invasive vegetable.
A quicker and rather simple method is the cutting: apices long about thirty centimeters are taken during the winter months. They can be put in jars with a very light mixture of sand, peat and perlite or you can also try placing them directly in the ground. The rooting takes place quickly and you will see the first sprouts already in spring.
Once the rooting is successful we will proceed with subsequent topping to please the preparation of the specimen.
When and how to plant it
The best time for planting is undoubtedly the autumn. Proceeding this season we will give the plant the possibility of adapting to the new location and starting to explore the surrounding terrain with the roots. In spring, therefore, a good and fast vegetative growth will be ready to begin.
However, in particular the potted specimens can also be planted in spring, possibly before the month of April.
To begin with, you will need to dig a large and deep hole at least twice the size of the vessel (generally the ideal is 1 meter in each direction). If the substrate turns out to be slightly compact and heavy we can intervene by mixing coarse sand and a little organic soil improver.
On the bottom of the hole it will be good to create a drainage layer with gravel or other suitable material.
We insert the plant so that the collar is at ground level, we cover with the soil and we press carefully. Finally we irrigate slightly.
If we want to create a hedge the ideal distance will be 1.5 meters between one plant and another.
Parasites and Diseases
Tamerics are sometimes attacked by aphids or red spider mites. They are very autonomous and resistant trees. They are rarely attacked by insects or cryptogams and, in any case, there is almost never the need to intervene to stem this type of problem.
As we have said, there are many species of tamarisk, but only a few are cultivated. However, numerous cultivars have been developed to meet the demands and needs of all green lovers.
In general they can be divided into species with spring flowering and species with autumn flowering. The former are the most widespread in the garden.
|Flowering period||Variety||Description of flowering||Plant characteristics||Purposes||Rusticitа|
Late May-early April
Bushy or weeping habit
Up to 5 m in height
|Isolated shrub or free hedge||A lot, up to -20|
|Light pink flowering on the branches of the previous year, from May to June|| |
Erect habit, fine and arched branches
Up to 5 meters high
Excellent as a windbreak barrier for creating hedges
|Very rustic, but fears the frozen winds|
|Pink flowering from May|| |
Leaves similar to the cypress.
It can even reach 12 meters in height
|As an isolated tree or in thickets|| |
Very rustic, loves wet habitats,
It flowers from June to September.
Colors from white to pink to salmon to red.
Many cultivars available
|Bushy habit, height up to 5 meters.||Isolated specimen and thickets|| |
It bears storms and even violent winds.
Suitable for poor soils.
|Flowering characterized by long pink bunches, from June to August, before the leaves|| Feathery and light appearance|
height up to 8 meters
isolated hedges and cutters
It supports salt soils very well.