The plant of the month for August, courtesy of The Palm Centre at Köyceğiz, is the Purple Broom.

Polygala is a genus of over 500 varieties of plant found in the wild in hot regions of the globe.

The name comes from the Greek: ‘poly’ which means ‘much’ and ‘gala’ which is one word for ‘milk’. It was long believed that ingestion of the plant would increase milk yield by both animals and humans.

Most varieties of polygala are annuals or perennials but they also include a few shrubs. The flowers resemble those of the pea, with the two largest petals looking like wings on either side of a rose pink petal, the whole forming the shape of a cross.

In general polygala like well-drained soil in full sun or dappled shade. It is also a plant that grows well in containers. However, it needs regular pruning to retain a good shape. If you wish to keep the plant small and compact, all new growth should be removed after the plant has flowered.

Polygala virgata is one of the most beautiful plants to be found within the Polygalacae family.

Its shiny purple-red winged flowers will attract attention in any garden. Its homeland is tropical East Africa, but it can also be found in the wild in Natal, Transvaal and South Africa. It can even be found growing between 250 and 1800m above sea level in the Drakensberg region of South Africa.

Purple broom is a shrub which can grow vertically to a height of 2 – 2.5m. It has long thin leaves that are a shiny, dark green and usually fall before the plant flowers. The flowers hang from short stems and are dark pinkish purple. From a distance the flowers resemble those of bean plants but closer inspection reveals the difference. Flowers open from March to September.

At the Palm Centre we find the main flowering season is May and June. The bright purple flowers attract bees and other winged insects. The fruits are oval in shape, 6 – 8mm in length and comprise two distinct halves. Inside the fruit small, black seeds are found.

Propagation is from seed or cuttings. This is not a long-lived plant but it will self seed.

Polygala virgata is a fast growing, hardy shrub. It can easily be grown in Mediterranean regions. Once it is well established it will withstand drought, wind and even light frost.

In landscaping it is used as a shrub or as a focal point in a dry or rock garden. It can also be used, when regularly pruned, as ground cover or to mark a boundary between different areas of the garden.

The Palm Centre, Koycegeiz

For a wide range of special plants visit the areas best nursery, The Palm Centre at Köyceğiz.

It is open daily between 1st June – 31st October but you can visit at any other time by appointment.

Access to plant sales is free but a fee is payable to look around the extensive nursery.

Just ring or email (English is spoken):

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Tel : +90 252 262 28 92

Fax : +90 252 262 51 61

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