Leptospermum - Myrtaceae - How to care for and grow Leptospermum plants

Leptospermum - Myrtaceae - How to care for and grow Leptospermum plants



The Leptospermum are delightful shrubs, which are frequently found along our coasts and are called tea tree because their leaves are an excellent substitute for tea leaves.






: Angiosperms


: Eudicotyledons


: Roside











: see the paragraph on "Main species"


The genre Leptospermum of the great family of Myrtaceae includes numerous species of evergreen shrubby plants particularly suitable for being bred in coastal areas. They are plants native to Australia, New Zealand and Southeast Asia (namely the Malay peninsula, the island of Sumatra, Borneo, the island of Java, the Philippines, Sulawesi, Thailand, the Moluccas, southern Burma and of New Guinea).

They are small and medium-sized shrubs that are found mainly along the coasts but also in wetlands, on acid soils and poor soils. They are very widespread and decorative garden plants thanks to their large flowers (up to 3 cm in diameter) and thanks to the resistance to different soil and climatic situations.

The leaves of the Leptospermum they are alternating with a beautiful deep green color and rich in essential oils (like many other genera of the Myrtaceae family) in fact if you crush the leaves between your fingers you will feel an intense fragrance.

The flowers are solitary or at most gathered in groups of two, at the ends of the branches, characterized by five petals and are all an excellent source of pollen for the production of excellent honey.


There are about 86 species in the genus Leptosperumumof which 83 are endemic to Australia. The most common as ornamental plants are:


The species Leptospermum scoparium it is native to New Zealand and Australia and is characterized by a shrubby habit, with plants reaching even 5 m in height. The leaves are lanceolate of an intense green color and the flowers are very showy, up to 2.5 cm wide. It blooms in early summer (late May-June) producing numerous single or double flowers, white, pink, red or more or less variegated depending on the variety.



which arises from the intersection between Leptospermum polygalifolium x Leptospermumcontinental.

It is a shrub that grows up to 1.5m in height producing abundant pink flowers in spring.


The species Leptospermum flavescens (synonymous Leptospermum polygalifolium) native to Tasmania and Australia is a shrub up to 5 meters high which produces numerous solitary flowers, with five white petals.


The species Leptospermum macrocarpum has the largest flowers of the genus.


The species Leptospermum petersonii is considered the'lemon Tree as its leaves have an aroma very similar to that of limine so much so that the leaves are used to give lemon flavor to tea.


The Leptospermum they are easy to grow plants and do not require special care.They are typically garden plants. They love sunny exposures and in areas where temperatures drop significantly during the winter season, it is necessary to cultivate them in sheltered positions, for example close to a wall exposed to sweat then protect the plants from frost (for example with straw that covers the whole plant) during the winter season.


Watering must be regular without leaving water stagnations in the soil that are not tolerated.


The Leptospermum they are not particularly demanding in terms of soil, the important thing is that they are light soils, well drained but which maintain a certain humidity.


The use of a slow release fertilizer after flowering is usually sufficient for good fertilization throughout the growing season.


It is advisable after flowering to remove the branches of Leptospermum that have been damaged or have grown in a disorderly way.

Remember to always use tools that are clean and disinfected if possible by the flame to avoid infecting the tissues.


The flowering period for most species is spring - early summer.


The multiplication of the Leptospermum occurs by seed or by cutting.


7-10 cm long cuttings are taken in early summer (June-July) that are not yet lignified.

The cuttings must be cut immediately under the node with an oblique cut as this allows for a greater surface for rooting and avoids the accumulation of water on this surface.

Use a razor blade or a sharp knife to avoid fraying of the fabrics. Make sure that the tool you use for cutting is clean and disinfected (preferably over a flame) to avoid infecting the fabrics.

The lower leaves are then eliminated and the cut part is dusted with rhizogenic hormones that promote rooting and settle in a compote formed by a part of peat and a part of coarse sand making holes with a pencil, as many as there are cuttings to fix afterwards taking care to gently compact the soil.

The pots are placed in an area where temperatures are around 16 ° C and the soil is always kept moist.

Once the first shoots start to appear, the cutting has taken root, at which point the cuttings are expected to harden. Once they are sufficiently large, they are transplanted into pots of about 8 cm in diameter with a compote formed by two parts of garden soil, one of peat and one of sand and they are wintered away from the cold in a protected place.

The seedlings will be ready to be placed in the garden after being raised for a year in a protected environment, planting them in early spring.


Rots at the height of the plant collar with consequent wilting of the leaves and flower stems

This symptom is typical ofPhytophthora spp. a very harmful fungus. Over time, the rotting areas extend to the whole plant. It occurs mainly in areas where the summers have had a hot and very humid course.
Remedies: the fight against this fungus is based, in addition to a reduction in environmental humidity, thanks to which this fungus proliferates, also with the specific confungicide treatment after eliminating all the affected parts.

Spots on the underside of the leaves

Spots on the underside of the leaves could mean that you are in presence of cochineal and in particular mealy cochineal. To be sure, it is advisable to use a magnifying glass and observe. Compare it with the photo on the side. They are features, you can't go wrong. Also if you try to remove them with a fingernail, they come off easily. They are the most frequent parasites affecting these plants.

Remedies: it is necessary to use specific pesticides, in particular white oil, available from a good nurseryman.

Presence of small whitish animals on the plant

If you notice small white-yellowish-greenish mobile insects you are almost certainly in the presence of aphids or as they are commonly called lice.
Look at them with a magnifying glass and compare them with the photo on the side, they are unmistakable, you can't go wrong.

Remedies: treat the plant with specific pesticides readily available from a good nurseryman. These are generally systemic products, i.e. they enter the lymphatic circulation of the plant and are therefore absorbed during the nutrition of the insects.


In the English language this plant is commonly called theatree or "tea tree" name that derives from the fact that the first Australian settlers discovered that the leaves of this plant, soaked in boiling water, were an excellent substitute for tea.

The name Leptospermum comes from the Greek leptos "Fine, subtle" esemen"Seed" to indicate its subtle seed.

the plant that in New Zealand is called Manuka is also easily found in Italy, given that in recent years European nurserymen have enjoyed importing many Australian and New Zealand plants into Europe, which can also be cultivated in the Mediterranean and Italian climate. You will hardly find saplings, and even more unlikely you will find anything in nurseries with the name Manuka, which is the Maori name, used in Australia for this plant is also known as tea tree, like the tea tree, because it seems that the discoverers of Australia used the leaves of these two plants to prepare tea.

In Italy it is easier to find manuka knowing its Latin name, that is Leptospermum scoparium in general, there are small specimens, no taller than one meter, with a shrubby habit.Spring is the best time, because they are in full bloom, and nurserymen tend to display them with pleasure, given the countless star flowers.

The plant generally has white flowers, but in nurseries you can find pink or bright pink varieties more easily.

It is a plant well suited to living in the garden in Italy, even if it fears the frost slightly so it is good to place the leptospermum in a very sunny position, but sheltered from the wind in winter it would be advisable to cover the plants, especially if they are recently planted. , with some agritessuto, which prevents the frost from damaging the shrub. Sometimes it happens that even a thick layer of non-woven fabric does not prevent frost from reaching the plant: usually it is enough at the end of winter to drastically prune the shrub, which will re-bloom in spring, more beautiful than before.

It is watered only when the soil is dry, from March to September, since it tolerates short periods of drought without problems.

In New Zealand the leptospermum is cultivated to produce honey, which has innumerable advantages from the therapeutic point of view, and can also be found in herbal medicine in Europe, where it is very difficult to produce it, given that there are no Leptospermum plantations. Manuka Honey is used for its very strong antibacterial, antiseptic, antioxidant properties, in the case of arthritis, bruises, diseases caused by fungi and bacteria, even for topical use.

Being honey, and therefore sweet and also appreciated by children, it is also used to treat diseases such as colds, coughs, sore throats, even if the patient is a small child.

Leptospermum scoparium

Genus consisting of about eighty species of evergreen shrubs native to Australia, New Zealand and Malaysia, most of which come from Australia there are numerous.

Leptospermum scoparium bonsai

Leptospermum, evergreen shrub"A splash of color in spring"

Polygala myrtifolia, Australian proposal (March 26, 2012)

Professor Franco Botta continues his visit to the Carone nursery and in this second lesson he proposes another type of plant suitable for decorating balconies and terraces. This is Leptospermum, an evergreen shrub native to Australia, belonging to the Myrtaceae family. "Leptospermums reach two meters in height and are particularly suitable for growing in groups, to produce a showy patch of color during flowering," explains the nurseryman Onofrio Carone. From May until the end of summer this plant "gives" small five-petaled flowers, white, pink or red.

EXPOSURE - These shrubs need to be planted in the sun or in partial shade they develop without major problems even in complete shade can withstand temperatures close to -7 ° C for short periods, it is therefore good to place them in a sheltered and eventually cover them with TNT during the coldest months of the year.

WATERING - For a correct development of the plant it is good to water regularly, from March until the first cold, avoiding to allow the soil to dry out excessively between one watering and the other. In the vegetative period it is good to provide fertilizer for flowering plants mixed with the irrigating water.

SOIL - These plants can also be cultivated in pots, but it is best to repot them every two years, increasing the size of the container, with a sandy, well-drained, slightly acidic or neutral soil. Generally these plants are not attacked by parasites poor drainage conditions can favor the onset of root rot.

Michela Ventrella
March 30, 2012
(last modification: March 31, 2012) © REPRODUCTION RESERVED

Thanks to prof. Botta for having thought of a column that provides valuable suggestions. The nurseryman presented two valid proposals to take into consideration.

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