Mastic is a shrub native to the Mediterranean regions that has been used for centuries for its medicinal and culinary properties. However, more recently, mastic has also become a popular choice for garden hedges due to its dense vegetation, easy maintenance and resistance to adverse weather conditions. But what should we take into account to grow mastic as a hedge?
In this article we will explain what the mastic is, what it is for and how much it can grow. In addition, we will discuss some tips to cultivate it and keep it healthy as a hedge. If you are looking for an attractive and practical option for your garden hedge, mastic could be the perfect solution!
What is mastic and what is it for?
Before talking about mastic as a hedge, let’s first clarify what this vegetable is. Well, it is a tree or shrub native to Greece and southern Italy, and It usually grows in Mediterranean areas. Its scientific name is Pistacia lentiscus and has multiple uses:
- Medicine: Mastic is used to treat dysentery, coughs, and fevers, among other ailments. It has anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and antifungal properties.
- Cocina: In the food industry, it is used to make the resin known as “mastic”. It is used to flavor foods, beverages, and confectionery. This shrub is also used as an ingredient in the production of liqueurs, such as the Greek “ouzo”.
- Cosmetics: An essential oil that is very popular in the perfumery and cosmetics industry can be produced with the mastic. It is known for its rejuvenating and antioxidant properties for the skin.
However, the use that we are interested in in this post is that of the hedge. As we have already mentioned, the mastic is a shrub, so it is not surprising that, in its shrubby form, it has several branches that grow from the base. This gives it a dense, bushy appearance. which makes it an ideal hedge.
How big does a mastic grow?
One aspect that we must consider if we want to grow mastic as a hedge is how much this vegetable can grow. In general, the height of this shrub ranges from two to five meters. However, under ideal conditions it can reach up to seven meters high. It should be noted that the growth of mastic is somewhat slow. It can take several years to reach its maximum size.
However, nothing happens! Or do we want a hedge five meters high? The key to maintaining mastic as a hedge is pruning it to our liking. In this way we will be able to keep it at a height that we like and we can even give it geometric shapes.
Caring for a mastic hedge
Now that we know a little more about this shrub, let’s see how to grow and care for a mastic hedge. The best time to plant this vegetable is in late winter or early spring. It can thrive both in somewhat calcareous soils and in neutral soils. It does not matter if they are stony or poorer, what we must take into account is that the soil is somewhat loose. As for the substrate, the ideal is to use a universal one and mix it with a little sandstone.
Regarding the location, the mastic needs some space and sunlight. To form a hedge, it is best to leave between eighty centimeters and one meter of distance between plant and plant. Although their growth is slow, they will gradually gain volume and the branches will end up covering all the holes that exist.
Another important aspect to take into account is irrigation. This must be scarce and the land must have good drainage to prevent waterlogging, which could cause root rot and kill the vegetable. For the rest, the mastic does not usually have problems with pests or diseases. Optionally we can add some organic matter, such as compost, mulch or earthworm humus, to the soil during the winter. This will considerably favor the growth of the mastic during the following season.
What if we want to reproduce our mastic? Although reproduction by cuttings is a very popular method, in the case of this shrub it is not very effective. The best way to reproduce mastic is by seed in autumn or spring, as long as the temperatures are mild enough. It is best to place them for a few hours in water to soften them. The empty seeds usually float in the water, those can be thrown away. The viable ones, that is, the seeds that do not float, must be introduced into a mixture of perlite and peat and control the humidity levels. After a few months, the seeds should germinate.
When is the mastic pruned?
Taking into account the care that this shrub requires, let’s discuss a fundamental aspect for the maintenance of mastic as a hedge: pruning. This task must be done in September and after flowering. Basically it is a matter of eliminating the wrongly oriented, dry or overgrown branches. Through pruning we will be able to control both the height and the expansion of the mastic hedge. The only thing we need to be able to carry out this task is a hedge clipper or a pruning shear.
It should be noted that mastic as a hedge is ideal for create geometric shapes or sculpt figures in the style of Edward Scissorhands. Of course, this task takes more time than normal maintenance pruning. In case you are interested, know that the mastic tolerates machine work very well. Why not bring out our most artistic side with this shrub?
If what you are looking for is a hedge that is easy to care for and moldable, mastic is certainly one of the best options. It can also be extremely decorative by planting it individually in the garden, it all depends on our tastes. But as a hedge it is ideal!