Sweet Almond Bush Care: Learn Tips On Growing Aloysia Virgata

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Botanically known as Aloysia virgata or sweet almond bush, this is a large shrub indigenous to Argentina.

This Aloysia genus belongs to the verbena plant family Verbenaceae.

Flowering Sweet Almond BushPin
cultivar413 from Fallbrook, California [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

This is a common garden plant in the Southern states of the United States of America, including Alabama, Arizona, Florida, and California.

The beauty of this small tree lies in its scalloped leaves and showy flowers.

Depending on where it is planted, Aloysia virgata is deciduous, evergreen, or semi-evergreen.

This lovely shrub or small tree has a few common English names as follows:

  • Sweet Almond Verbena
  • Sweet Almond
  • Incense Bush

Aloysia Virgata Quick Care Tips

  • Botanical Name: Aloysia virgata
  • Common Name(s): Sweet Almond, Sweet Almond Verbena, Incense Bush
  • Synonyms: Aloysia citrodora var. virgata, Lippia citrodora var. virgata
  • Pronunciation: al-uh-WIZH-ee-uh, vir-GA-tuh
  • Family & Origin: Verbenaceae family, native to Argentina
  • Growability: Easy to grow
  • Grow Zone: USDA zone 7
  • Size: Can grow up to 15′ feet tall and 12′ feet wide
  • Flowering: Blooms in summer with small white or pale pink flowers
  • Light: Full sun to partial shade
  • Humidity: Tolerates moderate humidity
  • Temperature: Can tolerate temperatures down to 10° to 15° degrees Fahrenheit
  • Soil: Loamy, well-draining soil with pH 6.5 – 7.5
  • Water: Water regularly, but do not overwater
  • Fertilizer: Fertilize with general landscape fertilizer or slow-release fertilizer in March, June, and August
  • Pests & Diseases: Can be susceptible to plant scales, aphids, borers, caterpillars, japanese beetles, spider mites and diseases like leaf spot, wilt, verticillium, cankers, black knot, and dieback
  • Propagation: Can be propagated through softwood or greenwood cuttings
  • Plant Uses: Used for its sweet almond scent in perfumes and soaps, and can be used in cooking and teas. Also used as a decorative plant in gardens and landscapes.

Sweet Almond Bush Care

Size and Growth

Aloysia virgata is an upright to rounded shrub/tree, reaching up to 15′ feet tall and spreading up to 12′ feet in width.

The plant usually has evergreen leaves in warmer climates, while it grows as a deciduous plant in cooler regions.

White blossoms on a green shrub.Pin
Photo Credit: Instagram @pottedlife

In subtropical climates, the plant swanks semi-evergreen leaves.

These versatile leaves are usually oval in shape with a smooth surface and a grayish-green color.

They expand to 4″ inches long and half as wide.

Flowering and Fragrance

Sweet almond bushes develop long and pointy spiked flower clusters with white blooms.

These flowers are supremely fragrant and fill the garden with a sweet scent of vanilla or almonds.

Sweet almond flowers have an extensive bloom period.

They stay abloom all summer long and well into fall.

Lighting and Temperature

A sweet almond bush enjoys full sun and part shade. It mostly requires five hours of sun a day but can live in partial shade. 

The sweet flowering almond tree does best in a variety of climates.

However, it necessitates a brief period of chilly weather to kick-start flowering in the spring season.

The minimum cold temperature for the growth of sweet almond trees is from 10° to 15° degrees Fahrenheit (-12° to -9° degrees Celsius).

The large shrub falls in the USDA hardiness zone 7.

Bee on flower, pollinating, close-upPin

Watering and Feeding

Sweet almond bushes are drought-tolerant. They easily thrive in hot climates and won’t need regular watering.

However, this deciduous shrub requires little water to keep growing happy and healthy.

Ideally, water the bush twice a month, especially during dry weather conditions. It also tolerates moderate humidity.

When it comes to feeding, botanists suggest using a general landscape fertilizer (10-10-10) for the plant.

Apply it once in March, June, and August to encourage healthy growth.

An alternative to a general landscape fertilizer is a slow-release fertilizer.

Related: Duranta Erecta Golden Dewdrop Care

Soil and Transplanting

The shrub performs best in an extensive range of soils, from loamy to clay. However, it thrives in loamy, well-draining soil with pH levels ranging from 6.5 – 7.5.

During the first year of the plant, water it regularly to keep the soil wet.

Some growers blend in some sand with a commercial potting mix to improve drainage. This will help the plant to develop a strong and healthy root system.

Transplanting of established shrubs shocks the plant, which is why it is seldom recommended.

However, it may be necessary if a landscape is not ideal for the shrub’s growth.

  • Before transplantation, water the soil to soak it well.
  • This lets you dig up the shrub easily.
  • Next, dig up a wide hole to house the root ball.
  • Using burlap, place the root ball in the newly-dug hole.
  • Make sure to place the plant in a sunny spot so it gets enough sunlight.
  • Gently firm the soil and water it regularly.
White blossoms on a tree, with blurred background.Pin
Photo Credit: Instagram @fairchildgarden

Grooming and Maintenance

Unlike high-maintenance shrubs, sweet almonds do not need deadheading.

Pruning this flowering shrub should be an annual affair.

The plant bursts with beautiful flowers in early spring and tends to multiply in numbers over the seasons.

Hard pruning is often done to keep the plant full and compact.

Pruning should take place right after the bloom time is over, i.e., late summer.

Avoid pruning in winter, as this may cut off next year’s buds.

Always ensure the plant is receiving enough sunlight to grow.

Related: You may also like the Flowering Almond (Prunus triloba).

How To Propagate and Grow Sweet Almond Verbena

The propagation of the incense bush is quite easy and simple.

Softwood or greenwood cuttings are common propagation methods for sweet almond bushes.

  • Take cuttings in late spring or early summer, making sure they are of your hand’s length.
  • Trim them and then place them in a pot with moist soil inside a plastic bag.
  • Keep them in the shade until the roots grow.
White butterfly bush flowers with green leaves.Pin
Photo Credit: Instagram @toptropicals

Sweet Almond Aloysia Virgata Pests and Diseases

The fruit trees are prone to many diseases and pest problems.

Some common diseases to watch out for are leaf spot, wilt, verticillium, cankers, black knot, and dieback.

Harmful insects include:

Sweet Almond Bushes Uses

This bush is a lovely choice to accentuate your garden and welcome pollinators like bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds.

Bee hovering near white flowers, garden background.Pin
Photo Credit: Instagram @artemisthewyld

The fragrant leaves and flowers bloom all year round and perfume gardens and backyards with a fresh, sweet scent.

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