How to grow tea tree plants

Written by gail delaney | 13/05/2017
How to grow tea tree plants
Tea tree plants thrive in hot climates so grow them under glass in the UK. (Wai Kok Boon/iStock/Getty Images)

Tea tree plants -- Melaleuca alternifolia -- are tropical evergreen plants. The plant isn't hardy outside in the UK's cooler climate but you can grow one in a pot and then move it inside during the winter. After at least three years of growth, the leaves can be picked, dried and used to make tea. There are different varieties of tea trees. Start tea trees from seed or buy them already potted and growing. Buy seeds online or from specialist garden centres and nurseries.

Soak the tea tree seeds for 24 hours in a bowl of tepid water. At the end of that time, remove any seeds that floated to the top.

Choose a sunny location and spread the seeds on a tray. Do not let the seeds dry out. Keep the seeds moist by misting them throughout the day. Inspect the seeds while misting them with water and check to see if any are cracking. A crack in the seed coat means that the seeds are ready to plant.

Fill the pots with coco-earth or another type of potting soil that does not contain peat moss so the soil is 6.25 mm (1/4 inch) below the rim of the pot. Fill as many pots as needed. This type of soil retains moisture while allowing the roots to breathe.

Poke a hole 2.5 cm (1 inch) deep into the soil with a pencil. Place the seed with the eye of the seed pointing off to one side. Cover the seed with soil and pat the soil lightly with your fingers.

Water the pots until it seeps out the bottom drainage holes. Place the pots in a shady location of your garden. Check the pots daily for moisture. Keep the soil moist but not soggy.

Transplant the tea tree plant when it has three to four leaves into larger pots. Keep the soil moist, but not soggy wet.

Shelter the potted plants in the house when winter arrives. Provide humidity by placing rocks into saucers filled with water. Grow the tea tree plant in a sunny window.

Fertilise with an organic fertiliser throughout the growing season according to label directions.

Things you need

  • Bowl
  • Tray
  • Mister
  • Coco-earth or potting soil without peat moss
  • 10 cm (4 inch) pots
  • Spade
  • Organic fertiliser

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