The tea tree (Melaleuca alternifolia) is a small evergreen that likes warm climes. It is attractive and fragrant, with a definitely exotic look. Herbalists swear by tea tree oil, made from its foliage. For more information on melaleuca tea trees, including tips on growing a tea tree, read on.
About Melaleuca Tea Trees
Tea trees are native to the warmer regions of Australia where they grow wild in tropical and subtropical swampy areas. You’ll find many different types of tea trees, each with its own dramatic variations in needle and blossom shades.
Melaleuca tea trees attract attention in your garden. Tea tree information suggests that one of the most attractive features is the trunk, with its gorgeous, papery bark.
If you are thinking of growing a tea tree, note that the tree can get 20 feet (6 m.) tall. It spreads out too, to 10 or 15 feet (3 to 4.5 m.) wide. Be sure to site it with enough room to grow, or else keep the pruners handy.
Growing a Tea Tree
If you live where the weather is warm, you can plant melaleuca tea trees in your garden. Otherwise, growing a tea tree in a container is a valid alternative. You can position it in outdoor sun during summer, then move it inside for winter.
When you are growing a tea tree, you may be surprised by how fast your tree develops. Tea tree information tells us that Melaleuca tea trees in warm locations can grow several feet (1 to 2 m.) a season. Tea trees in cooler regions won’t grow as fast.
Your tea tree won’t flower until it has been around for a few years. But when it does, you’ll notice. The blossoms are frothy, and you’ll find a variety of colors available.
How to Care for Tea Trees
When you are learning how to care for tea trees, think warmth. Don’t plant Melaleuca tea trees outside in your garden unless you live in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zone 8 or above. The trees need sun to thrive, whether they are planted indoors or out. They will not be happy in shade.
As far as soil goes, make sure it drains easily. The plants just won’t thrive if drainage is limited. Grow them in acidic or neutral soil that is moist. Speaking of… don’t forget irrigation. Even outdoor plants need watering during dry spells. For those growing a tea tree in a container, regular irrigation is essential. Tea trees are not one of those potted plants that like drying out between drinks. Keep that soil a bit moist at all times.
Melaleuca Tea Tree Uses
Melaleuca tea tree uses run from ornamental to medicinal. The small trees are lovely additions to a warm-climate garden and also make a lovely potted plant.
The trees also have medicinal uses. Melaleuca tea tree uses center around the essential oil obtained from the leaves and twigs. Herbalists consider tea tree oil an important natural antiseptic.
The oil can be used for treating stings, burns, wounds, and skin infections. It is said to stimulate the immune system and serves as an effective treatment against both bacterial and fungal infections. The essential oil is also used in aromatherapy.