A small genus of attractive, medium sized, part-tender, evergreen flowering shrubs. Certain species are grown commercially for herbal and medicinal purposes. Needs a moist, acid to neutral soil.
Botanical Name: Leptospermum (lep-to-sperm-um)
Common Names: Manuka, Tea Tree
Foliage: Small evergreen lanceolate shaped leaves. Often aromatic.
Flowers: Pretty 5-petalled flowers, usually with a dark central disk. Single or double forms are available.
Flowering Period: Late spring to summer.
Soil: Well-drained, fertile soil (sand or loam). Acid or neutral pH.
Conditions: Full sun or partial shade. Plant in a west or south facing aspect, in a sheltered position.
Type: Shrub or small tree.
Origin: Australia and New Zealand.
Hardiness: Mostly part tender in the UK. Some species are more hardier than others. Check plant label before purchase.
Most hardy forms will thrive in a light, well-drained acid to neutral loam, in a sheltered sunny position. Alkaline soils should be avoided.
More tender forms can often survive outside in warmer regions, when planted against a south facing wall.
They can be easily kept small by pruning, so they are ideal shrubs for containers, which can be moved under cover for winter protection.
Pruning is not really necessary except to keep the plant within bounds and to cut away any frost damaged growth.
Generally trouble free.
Propagate from seed. Alternatively, take semi-hardwood cuttings in June and root with a slight bottom heat.
The height and spread of different species can vary considerably, from a few feet up to 16ft (5m) or more. However, they generally grow more slowly in cooler regions. There are a number of compact forms, ideal for growing in the rock garden or in patio containers.
Leptospermum humifusum (prostrate tea tree) is a good rock garden form with white flowers. It is reasonably hardy, although the foliage can be damaged in severe winters. Height to 9in (23cm).
Leptospermum lanigerum (Woolly Tea Tree) has pure white flowers and is hardier than the more common forms.
Leptospermum scoparium (broom like, manuka myrtle) is the most common garden species, bearing masses of small flowers in shades of white, pink or red, often with a darker centre. It has fragrant leaves when crushed. For sale at You Garden. A number of good garden cultivars are available, such as 'Red Damask', which has double red flowers from late spring.