The wonderful Tea Tree is part of a genus made up of about 80 species of evergreen shrubs or small trees with small narrow, needle-like leaves, some of which are aromatic when crushed, a bit lemony. Native of Australia, it has a relative that is native to NZ which is naturally widespread in certain areas.
When Captain Cook’s crew and the early settlers were suffering from scurvy as well as withdrawal from their regular English tea, they would use the leaves of a variety of the Leptospermum to make a brew.
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The flowers range in colour from white through pink and red shades, and there are singles and doubles that bloom prolifically. They are used in many different ways in landscaping; groups of trees provide graceful hedging, single specimens provide a splash of colour, they can be pruned to shapes such as standards, and they make an excellent addition to the vase. The nectar from the flowers is harvested by bees and makes a yummy and highly beneficial honey.
The requirements for cultivation of the species are that they are best suited to well-drained soil in full sun, but some will tolerate wet and shady conditions. In order to retain their bushy habit, light pruning from a young age and each year after flowering is recommended. Most species are hardy to drought.
Leptospermum scoparium, commonly known as Manuka is a bushy shrub seldom more than 3.5 – 4m high, but Leptospermum ericoides, knownasKanuka grows into a small tree up to 12m or more. Both species are, however, extremely variable. They flower in profusion and Manuka has showy, white flowers about 10cm across but Kanuka has much smaller flowers. The fruits are woody capsules containing numerous small, linear seeds. Manuka sheds its bark in long papery strips and the wood is the best known firewood in New Zealand so you can always put your prunings into the fire which will keep you warm and hapy and gay on those cold winter nights!
The Australian Silky Tea Tree is a graceful, open, evergreen tree with stunning red bronze foliage. In summer masses of single white flowers with green centres smother the branches and make the bees happy. Quite tolerant but happiest in the sun with good drainage.
'Coppersheen' looks good as a single specimen and the foliage colour combines well with other garden colours. Equally it looks great as a closely planted screen or hedge and for this purpose it trims very well.
Colour: White / Green Habit: Upright Est. Hgt/Wdth in 7/10 yrs: 2.5m x 2m
Aust. Native. Merinda has vibrant magenta flowers that cover the bush in colour. Flowers occur in late spring. Early growth of this plant is spreading or cascading but will develop into a small shrub. Frost tolerant.
Colour: Red Habit: Cascading Est. Hgt/Wdth in 7/10 yrs: 100cm x 100cm
Native Standard. An unusual form of our native Manuka (Tea Tree) which has a low semi-prostrate habit that makes it ideal for a lovely cascading head of flowers on a topiary standard. Can be grown in a pot/ tub or used as an attractive specimen in the garden.The foliage is tiny, narrow and pointed, the flowers are in tones of rose red and pink. Evergreen.
Colour: Pink / Pink Habit: Cascading Est. Hgt/Wdth in 7/10 yrs: STD
Native. Call it Tea Tree or call it Manuka or even by its botanical name of Leptospermum this ubiquitous native tree is a familar site in our landscape. The scented white flowers that appear in summer attract bees that produce delicious honey. Will grow almost anywhere. Evergreen.
Colour: White Habit: Upright Est. Hgt/Wdth in 7/10 yrs: 5m x 3m
Gorgeous single white flowers massed on ornamental dark foliage make this low growing, prostrate ground cover a good choice for cascading over walls or covering banks. The flowers appear in late winter. Prefers full sun and shelter from the wind. Tolerates most soils. Trim after flowering. Hardy. Evergreen.
Colour: White Habit: Prostrate Est. Hgt/Wdth in 7/10 yrs: 40cm