The Manuka Honey Plant
What is commonly called the Manuka plant is Leptospermum scoparium and it is also commonly called Tea Tree. So Leptospermum scoparium is the plant that Manuka Honey we get Manuka Honey from, and Leptospermum species are commonly called Tea Tree.
Although the Manuka plant has been made famous by New Zealand, it also grows naturally in Australia, its just that the extraction of the honey started in New Zealand.
Before the honey, which had to wait until honey bees were introduced into NewZealand, the Maori people were well aware of the health giving and healing properties of other parts of the Manuka plant ).
Once the honey bees were introduced in the 1830s, the Maori people were quick to discover it, harvest it and so the story of Manuka honey begins.
How to grow Leptospermum scoparium
Leptospermum scoparium or Manuka Plant also has very attractive flowers and like many other Leptospermum species, makes a great garden plant. It is mainly the better flowering, more colourful cultivars and hybrids that are grown as ornamental plants. Leptospermum scoparium Nanum Rubrum is a low growing variety well suited as an edging plant.
A sunny position and a well drained soil are the two basic requirements for growing this small shrub or tree.
- Dig the soil over well before planting removing weeds.
- Add extra drainage material in clay soils wet soils.
- Plant your tree and water in well with a liquid seaweed fertiliser.
- Mulch around the plant to maintain a cool moist root run.
This is a medium to fast growing plant, naturally dense and bushy. It will vary in height depending on soil and climate. Generally around 2m (6ft) however some named varieties can be 1/2 this size.
Pruning Leptospermum scoparium
Not generally required however you can tip prune direct after flowering to maintain shape if desired.
Use a little low phosphate native plant fertiliser in poorer soils. You could also use some blood and bone. Be carful not to over fertilise.
Leptospermum scoparium Summary Information and Description
- Botanical Name – Leptospermum scoparium,
- Common Names – Manuka Plant, Mānuka myrtle, Tea Tree, Red tea tree, Kahikatoa
- Family – Myrtaceae
- Origins – South Eastern Australia and New Zealand
- Position – Full sun to a little shade.
- Soil – Well drained.
- Height – To around 2 m
- Spread – To around 2 m
- Growth rate – Medium
- Flowers – Small white flowers tinged with pink to red, variable
- Flowering Time – Spring to Summer
- Foliage – Mid green
- Frost tolerant – Yes