Leptospermum, or fine-seeded paniculata, belongs to the myrtle family. Another name for the plant is manuka. It can sometimes be called the New Zealand tea tree. It is Australia and New Zealand that are natural areas of growth of Leptospermum. This is an unpretentious evergreen shrub that often decorates gardens in warm climates. Residents of more northern regions can grow this type of fine-seeded plant as a tub or pot culture. But in-room conditions, the plant will require some care.
The decorative properties of Leptospermum are very high. Regular formative pruning can turn a bush into a small, slender tree. Many of its closely spaced branches are strewn with small Lancelot leaves. They contain essential oils, which is why rubbing one of the leaves fills the air with a rich lemon scent.
The bright fragrant flowers of Leptospermum with a dark eye in the middle are also worthy of attention. They can be white, red, or pink; both terry and simple. Despite its small size (up to 1 cm), due to its large number during the flowering period, the thin-seeded plant looks especially festive.
Caring for Leptospermum at home
Location and lighting
Leptospermum is very light-requiring. Lack of illumination can lead to flying around its leaves. In the summer, the plant can be taken outside: even direct sunlight will not frighten it there. One has only to remember that strong overheating of the soil can negatively affect the well-being of the seedling.
Like most members of the myrtle family, Leptospermum reacts sharply to errors in the watering regime. Stagnant water is also undesirable for him, as well as over drying. Lack of proper drainage and removal of excess moisture can result in root rot. On the other hand, even a short period of drought can lead to the death of the plant. Ideal ground condition: moderately damp bottom and slightly dry top.
For irrigation, it is recommended to use only rain or soft-settled water. A few crumbs of citric acid will also help soften it.
Unlike the moisture level in the soil, Leptospermum is undemanding to temperatures and can tolerate heat. The only condition is that in winter it should be moved to a cooler room. For this, a bright place is suitable, the temperature which does not rise above 10 degrees. This will allow the flower to rest and gain strength before the upcoming flowering. At the beginning of March, it is returned to the warmth.
The thin-seeded plant loves humid air, it can be sprayed both in summer and in winter. Even the flowering period will not be an obstacle for this. Excessive dryness of the air can lead to foliage falling.
The shrub will do well in acidic or slightly acidic soil. From the purchased options, soils for rhododendron, heather, or azalea are suitable. Those who want to prepare the ground for a flower with their own hands can take 2-3 parts of turf and one part of peat, humus, and sand.
Topdressing will be required only during periods of active growth of the bush. To maintain health, two servings of fertilizer per month will be sufficient. A weak solution of azalea fertilizer can be used: a full dose can burn the roots of the plant.
The pruning procedure for this shrub allows it to form a beautiful crown of literally any shape. If you do this in a timely manner, this will not affect the health and abundance of flowering. Moreover, it will increase the number of branches on which flowers will appear.
There are two optimal periods for pruning Leptospermum. The first is before the start of active growth. The second, most optimal, is at the end of flowering. Otherwise, you can accidentally touch the branches of the current year, on which the buds are tied. Pruning this deep will prevent the bush from blooming.
How to transplant
The procedure for transplanting Leptospermum should be carried out very carefully. The roots of the bush are quite sensitive. Even if the fine-seeded plant is grown as bonsai, it is advised to prune them as rare and as little as possible. For the same reason, it is not recommended to loosen the soil in the pot: you can touch the roots located near the surface of the soil.
If the bush still needs to be transplanted, it is better to use the transshipment method, moving the specimen into a new, slightly more spacious container along with a clod of earth and maintaining the level of deepening.
Subject to all conditions of detention, Leptospermum will delight the eye with its bright colors for 2-3 months. Usually, this period occurs in the spring or early summer. Some specimens may stop blooming by the beginning of June, but in the case of such an early start, in winter they sometimes begin a second wave of flowering. True, in this case, it will no longer be so abundant.
The plant is self-pollinated and does not require any additional measures to obtain seeds. They can even be tied at home. The fruits of Leptospermum are dense capsules, tiny seeds in which ripen for almost a whole year.
Reproduction methods of Leptospermum
For the reproduction of Leptospermum, cuttings or planting of seeds are used. Cuttings for planting are cut in summer, in July. To speed up their rooting, you can use root growth stimulants. In this case, they can appear in a few weeks.
The seeds can be planted at any time of the year. They are carefully sown into the soil and covered with glass. Despite the rapidity of the emergence of seedlings, after a couple of weeks, the seedlings stop development. Some of them may never recover during this period. The rest later resume their growth. But such seedlings turn into a flowering bush only for 5-6 years.
Diseases and pests
Thanks to the leaves rich in phytoncides, most harmful insects bypass the bush. Sometimes a spider mite can pose a threat to Leptospermum. To prevent the appearance of pests, it is worth treating the shrub with phytoverm or another similar drug as a preventive measure.
Indoor plant varieties
Leptospermum paniculata is the most popular species found on the market. In addition to it, in stores, you can see the thyme-leaved variety with white flowers. Another option is the creeping Leptospermum, which is grown as a ground cover in the southern regions.
Tips for buying Leptospermum
When purchasing an adult Leptospermum in a gardening store, you should carefully study the appearance of the bush. This will allow you to select the healthiest plant. The appearance of the leaves may be alarming: if they fall off or have a matte rather than glossy sheen, they are probably already dried up. The state of the branches matters too. Healthy ones should have a red color, while dried ones acquire a gray tint. If the bush looks bad already in the store, you should not buy it – it will no longer be possible to revive such a plant.
At the purchase stage, you can not only stumble upon a wilted specimen but also accidentally confuse the desired plant with another. It is worth knowing about the difference between the “New Zealand tea tree” (manuka) and the “Australian tea tree” (melaleuca). These are related species, slightly similar to each other, but different in their properties.