Polygala or Milkwort are flowering shrubs from the family Polygalaceae which occur naturally in many parts of the world in temperate and tropical regions.
What is a Polygala?
Small leaves and dwarf polygala are frost hardy whereas the larger leaved and bushy forms are frost tender and need protection if grown in areas that will have more than a light frost. The dwarf forms are often only 10cm tall whilst the larger forms can grow to over 1.5m tall. Both types of polygala have green foliage and masses of pea-like purple flowers with dwarf forms flowering earlier in spring and early summer followed by the bushy forms in summer.
Where to plant Polygala?
Both types of polygala like full sun or partial shade and moist but well drained soil. The dwarf forms are ideal for patio pots or used in alpine or rock gardens. The larger bushy forms can be grown in large patio pots and treated as indoor / outdoor plants that are moved into frost free areas over winter. They can be grown outside in coastal and mild parts of the country which only have light frosts.
How to care for a Polygala?
Water young and pot grown plants in dry spells. Bushy polygala can be lightly trimmed to control the size and shape. Protect frost tender forms planted in borders from heavy frosts with fleece.