Manuka trees (Leptospermum scoparium) are native to New Zealand. Small and multi-trunked, they often resemble shrubs more than trees. Often called "tea trees" for the fact that European settlers made tea from the leaves, the trees have distinctive, shredding bark and long, narrow leaves. In the spring, manuka trees bloom with a profusion of white, pink or reddish flowers. These temperate climate plants cannot tolerate sustained freezes and only grow well in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 9 and 10. They handle quite sharp frosts.
Plant your manuka in a location where it will be exposed to full sunlight. The tree can tolerate a wide variety of soil types as long as the soil is well-draining, according to the Plants for a Future website.
Mulch around the plant with 2 to 3 inches of organic mulch to conserve moisture, add nutrients and limit weed growth. Do this carefully because the manuka has shallow roots.
Water infrequently. This tree can tolerate drought conditions and prefers soil on the dry side.
Prune carefully. Trim back for shape after the flowers have faded but do not cut off all the new wood or it will not bloom again the next year.
- Shelter the tree from cold or hot drying winds for optimum growth.
- Note that these trees naturalise easily. In Hawaii, they are considered an invasive species because they spread so easily.