PNW Landscape Plant Guide

brought to you by the plant geeks at Calendula Farm

Australian Tea Tree (Melaleuca alternifolia)

Yep, this is the Australian native that is the source for Tea Tree Oil. The oil is found in many body products such as toothpaste, mouthwash, skin, and hair products. The leaves contain large amounts of oil which is powerfully antiseptic and anti-inflammatory. It has been used by the aboriginal people of Australia for many thousands of years to clean wounds, treat infections, and various injuries. Here’s a link to an article about it from the NIH:

We can grow it here in the Puget Sound area if we’re careful. It is comfortably hardy to about 18 degrees F. and might survive 15 for very short periods. To be safe, plant it in a pot that you can bring indoors for winter. Otherwise, try it in the ground and add several inches of mulch around it to insulate for winter.

Tea Tree needs full sun. It loves blasting hot summers and plenty of moisture. It naturally grows in swampy or very wet areas, so we have that part covered here in the PNW. It grows slowly to about 15 ft., smaller if grown in a container. It has a soft willowy look with fine, slender evergreen leaves. In late spring it sprouts white floofy puffs of blooms that look like cotton candy along the stems.