The characteristics of wintergreen

Gaultheria belongs to the genus of Dicotyledonous plants and to the Ericaceae family; about 100 species belong to it, for the most part originating in the American continent (from Canada to Chile), but present in Asia and Australia, limited to the tropical and subtropical regions. Very similar to our blueberries, Gaultheria are erect shrubs, which rarely take on the appearance of small trees. They have simple and persistent leaves, petiolate, round or lanceolate, sometimes with toothed margins. The flowers are often gathered in panicle or racemic inflorescences; the fruits are capsules but, being surrounded by the persistent and fleshy calyx, they resemble berries. With the arrival of summer it is necessary to increase the frequency and quantity of water supplies: in fact it is necessary to always keep the soil fresh and moist.

Floriculture employs various species of Gaultheria for ornamental purposes and among these the most widespread is the Gaultheria shallon. It is a shrub native to North America, which develops without problems even if it is placed in shady places. It reaches a height of 50 cm, grows rapidly and is characterized by having persistent, leathery and oval-shaped leaves; the flowers, which bloom between May and June, are pink, while the fruits, with a tasty flavor, are a beautiful purple color. Attention must be paid to the level of humidity of the soil because the plant is sensitive to the effects of water stagnation. These, in fact, can have negative effects on the health of the specimens. The Gaultheria has good adaptability as it can also grow in rock gardens or sloping grounds.

Fertilization and ideal soil

The ideal soil for growing Gaultheria is acidic and the fertilizations to be carried out vary according to whether the plant grows in pots or in full soil. In the first case, complete fertilizer is simply applied during the growing season, while in the second complex products for acidophilic species are used to add to the water for watering. The fertilizer must contain little nitrogen and an iron sulphate-based fertilizer is administered once a year. Whatever fertilization is implemented, the production of Gaultheria berries is greater if the specimen grows near flowering plants. It is recommended to combine it with Rhododendrons and Azaleas, with which it shares some needs, in particular as regards the soil. To have good drainage and lush development,

Gaultheria: Diseases and parasites

All the varieties of Gaultheria are very resistant and therefore it rarely happens that they are affected by diseases or by attacks of parasites. Among the ailments that appear most widely are leaf spots, which spoil the beauty of the plant and its ornamental effect. In this case, the damaged leaves must be eliminated and the problem must be prevented from continuing by adding specific iron chelates to the peat. Gaultheria prefers humid and sheltered environmental conditions: in fact it is very often affected by the action of the sun’s rays. Consequently this plant needs an exposure in total shade or at most in partial shade. It is a species that requires few precautions: to have good results it is sufficient to respect its needs as regards the

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