melaleuca trees

Stunning Pink flowering gum.

Tree Landscape Design Melbourne

Tree landscape design is an essential part of commercial or residential landscape gardening. As the Chinese proverb goes, “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now”. With the cooler months, it is time to think about planting some trees.

Trees as an attractive focal point

Some attractive Trees and shrubs can provide an interesting focal point for your garden. Many Australian native trees will provide vibrant coloured flower creating both beauty and food and habitat for a wide range of Australian fauna. As an added bonus, the colourful flowers provide a source of nectar and pollen for honeybees and native bees, well away from the garden pesticides. Foliage colours can also be used to create a contrast.


Lemon-scented myrtle also known as the Sweet Verbena Tree (Backhousia citriodora) is a Queensland species that is both attractive to honeybees and a source of bush tucker. However, as it is a rainforest plant, it is not particularly drought tolerant. If you look after it, you will be rewarded with clusters of attractive white flowers.

Design Considerations. – Locating the tree

When designing the garden for trees, make sure you consider the final height of the tree and any garden maintenance requirements. Space between the tree and a fence might need to be big enough for mower access. Also the location of any overhead power lines should be considered. If you are planting a street tree, the local council will have guidelines for the minimum distance to services such as stormwater outlets and power poles.

Planting Trees like a professional commercial landscaper

If your new tree comes in a plastic pot, make sure you protect it from the searing  sun. A few hours of intense sunlight on a black plastic pot can do a great deal of harm to your new tree. Make sure you give the root ball a good soaking. If possible, dip the pot into a bucket of water.

Tree Planting

Tree Planting. Make the hole much bigger than the pot especially in Melbourne clay soils.

Dig your hole much bigger than the pot size of the tree. That means if you are planting a tree from a 300 mm pot, the hole should be dug around 900 mm. This is especially the case if you are planting in poor quality soils. Aim to have the new tree slightly higher than the natural ground level. If you are in a heavy clay soil, dig in some organic matter both below and around the plant. If you use a lot of organic matter, this will tend to shrink as it decomposes so take care not to overdo it. The organic material used should be well composted. Backfill with 50% high quality topsoil mixed with the site topsoil. If you have a reactive clay soil, which is common in Melbourne, a hand full od gypsum can be dug into the bottom of the hole.



Once you have placed your tree in the hole, give the roots a bit of a tickle if they appear to have been root bound by the planter pot. This will encourage the roots to grow outward into the new soil. If you are planting a Eucalyptus or Magnolia, the roots should be disturbed as little as possible.

Water the new tree and tamp down on the soil to remove any air pockets. Cover the root zone with around 75mm thick mulch ensuring there is a gap between the trunk and the mulch to prevent collar rot. In most cases staking of the tree is not necessary. If you have a larger or a top heavy tree, use 2 or 3 stakes placed away from the trunk and tied loosely with a rag.


Correct tree staking.

Stakes need to be clear of the rootball. Ideally 50 mm hessian ties should be used and stapled to the stakes to allow some trunk movement. Ensure the ties do not damage the trunk.



Watering trees

To avoid drought stress with you newly planted trees, give the soil around the plant a good soaking. The best solution for saving water is a dripper irrigation system with a timer and a moisture sensor. An annual application of a soil wetting solution will save water by reducing run off.

Mulching around a tree

Create a dish to keep the mulch clear of the tree and the top of the root ball close to flush with the finished height. The mulch height should be 200mm with a diameter of 1200mm.


Weeding and mulching

Keep Weeds, lawns and other vegetation away from the root zone of your new tree until it is well established. For trees, this means an area of around 1.5 metres  diameter should be kept clear for the first 3 years. The mulch should be topped up annually as it slowly decomposes into the soil.


Feeding your new Tree

Native Trees

Native plants generally require very little fertiliser, so be careful when applying and always use low phosphorus fertilisers. Products like Neutrog Seamungus combine the trace elements of seaweed with the nitrogen of chook manure to get your plants off to a good start. Neutrog “Bush Tucker” has been developed specifically for Australian Native plants and is ideal for even the most phosphorus sensitive proteas, banksias or grevillias. As well as harming native trees, excess phosphorus will inhibit mycorrhizal fungi essential for root development with your new tree. Phosphorus run off into streams and waterways can also be a problem.

Exotic trees

Exotic trees will require a little bit more feeding for the low phosphorus Melbourne soils. Also add a small amount of slow release fertiliser to the hole.




Even if your tree is an Australian Native, don’t be afraid of giving it a regular prune or trim to get it into the shape you want. This should be done both early and regularly. After a year or two it the tree should be strong enough to stay upright without the stakes. This is the reason why the young trees should not be staked too tightly. Always use a clean and sharp pruning saw to avoid spreading plant diseases.


Plant Selection

The trees selected for your Melbourne garden should be reasonably drought tolerant, non invasive and easy to maintain. Consideration should be given to the full extent  of the leaf canopy and the root zone when the plant is fully grown. In particular, the plants chosen need to have resistance to the weather conditions and the fungal diseases that go along with it. A visit to your local botanical gardens is a good way to select plants for your home garden and also pick up some landscaping ideas. Some councils Council have also published a guides to saving water. Some of the trees listed in the guide include Kurrajong, (Brachychiton populneus), Crape Myrtle (Lagerstroemia indica), Screw Pine (Pandanus Tectorius), Coastal Banksia (Banksia integrifolia), Tuckeroo (Cupaniopsis anacardioides) , Tulipwood (Harpullia pendula), Southern Magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora) Blue Lilly Pilly (Syzygium oleosum)


Lagerstroemia indica has purple, pink or white crinkly flowers that appear like crape (or crepe). It is a deciduous tree but it can be grown as a  large shrub. The long dark leaves are bronze when the tree is growing rapidly.


Lagerstroemia Indica

Lagerstroemia Indica is a tree or shrub native to China and Korea. Striking conical panicles around 200mm long. Ideal for small gardens and Mediterranean gardens.



Blue Lilly Pilly (Syzygium oleosum) has stunning purple or blue berries contrasting with the rich dark green foliage. The colourful berries can be eaten.


Corymbia ficifolia or red flowering gum is native to southern Western Australia.


Many of us love the look and the bird attracting ability of the Western Australian Flowering Gum. (Corymbia ficifolia) (Previously know as Eucalyptus ficifolia). In the past the problem has been its ability to withstand the humidity of the Gold Coast. The good news is that horticulturalist Stan Henry has developed a hybrid variety suitable for the humid conditions of South East Queensland. The hybrids, which combine Corymbia ficifolia, the red flowering gum from south-west Western Australia with the swamp bloodwood, Corymbia ptychocarpa from northern Australia are know as the Summer series – ‘Summer Red’, ‘Summer Beauty’ and ‘Summer Snow’. Look for these in your local plant nursery.


© 2020 Reds Landscaping and Civil Melbourne Landscaper.


Local Council Street Tree Policies

Stonnington (Covers Prahan, Toorak, Malvern and Glen Iris.)

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5 Melaleucas for your Melbourne Garden

The Melaleuca or Paperbark

The melaleuca is a genus of flowering evergreen Australian native shrubs and trees. It is a member of the myrtle family, Myrtaceae.

What soil does the Melaleuca prefer?

Melaleucas generally prefer well drained friable soil and full sun.

What are the other names for Melaleuca?

The smaller varieties have been known as honey myrtles, tee trees, ( including tea trees or ti trees) or bottlebrush. The Larger species are also known as paperbarks.

Is the name Melaleuca Greek?

The name Melaleuca comes from two Greek words. In Greek melas means black, similar to the word melatonin. In Greek leukos mean white and comes from the proto Indo-European work leuk meaning light or brightness. It is related to the medical term leukaemia. It is not really known with absolute certainty how the melaleuca got this name. Perhaps the first ones seen had been affected by a bush fire that turned the trunks black. The white could be from new branch growth or even from white flowers. Some species have white trunks.

Which Melaleuca variety is used to make tea tree oil?

Melaleuca alternifolia, also known as the narrow-leaved paperbark or narrow-leaved tea-tree is grown commercially for the production of tea tree oil. This species is native to South East Queensland and Northern New South Wales.

What is tea tree oil used for?

Historically tea tree oil has been mainly used for its antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties. It is also now known for its anti fungal properties. It has been said that Captain Cook learnt about the medicinal properties on the Melaleuca from the indigenous inhabitants of New South Wales, who had probably been using it for tens of thousands of years. It wasn’t until the 1920s that western medicine discovered that tea-tree oil was much stronger than the commonly used antiseptic at the time (carbolic acid) and caused much less irritation. With the invention of modern antibiotics during Work War 2, tea-tree oil declined in usage. I

What varieties of Melaleuca can be grown as Garden Plants?

There are quite a few varieties of Melaleuca that can be grown as garden plants in Australia. One important note is when selecting plants, make sure they are in good health and free from rust or scale. Check for the presence of powdery bright yellow or orange-yellow spores on the leaves or stems. These are indicators of myrtle rust. Melaleucas are suitable for both home landscaping and commercial landscaping.

Melaleuca Armillaris Bracelet Honey Myrtle
Rounded shrub or Small tree which grows 3 to 6 metres tall and 1.2 to 3 metres in diameter. It has fine needle like grey-green to deep green leaves. In spring and summer it produces dense clusters of cream bottle-brush style flowers that will attract birds.Tolerant of most well-drained soils and situations, including moderate frosts and extended dry periods and temporary water logging. The Fast growing plants respond well to pruning and can be grown as a fast growing hedge or screen. A note of caution, as this variety has the potential to spread rapidly. Melaleuca thymifolia is probably a better choice for your Melbourne garden.


Melaleuca Armillaris. Fine needle like grey-green to deep green leaves with dense clusters of cream bottle-brush style flowers that will attract birds

Melaleuca Armillaris. Fine needle like grey-green to deep green leaves with dense clusters of cream bottle-brush style flowers that will attract birds.

Melaleuca hypericifolia
Another rounded shrub or tree, it grows to between 2 to 5 metres tall and about the same in diameter. The leaves are an elliptical mid to deep green on the upper side, but paler on the underside. In summer it produces 20 to 25 mm in diameter bottle-brush style red or crimson flowers 40 to 80 mm long.

Melaleuca hypericifolia - Leaves are mid to deep green on the upper side. Bottle-brush style red or crimson flowers

Leaves are mid to deep green on the upper side. Bottle-brush style red or crimson flowers

Melaleuca thymifolia (Thyme-leaf Honey-myrtle)
With its frequent flowering and ability to be successfully grow in a range of conditions in a small garden, Melaleuca thymifolia is a popular choice for Melbourne gardeners. As It comes naturally from New South Wales and Queensland, growing in mild, moist areas and light soils, it is well suited to the coastal region of the Melbourne.

Melaleuca Thymifolia the beautiful large, soft pink flowers will attract birds.

Melaleuca Thymifolia the beautiful large, soft pink flowers will attract birds.

As it flowers for up to eight months of the year, it is great for attracting and keeping bees and birds to your garden. The plant has blue-green foliage and young stems are reddish when growth is reasonably rapid. As you can see in the picture, the elliptical leaves are about 10 mm long in even pairs pointing upwards close to the stems. Small clusters of stemless flowers appear on mature stems below the new growth. In colder climates, the flowers are bluish-purple in early winter changing to a rich pink or mauve in spring and summer. Regular watering will result in many beautiful large, soft pink flowers. A dripping irrigation system will produce great results. As it recovers well from drought and pruning is not really necessary to create a shaped plant, it provides a low maintenance option for your Melbourne garden.

Melaleuca incana Grey Honey Myrtle
The Grey Honey Myrtle is originally from the south of Western Australia. It is a weeping shrub with blue-green or grey foliage.

Melaleuca Incana is weeping shrub with soft pale yellow brush-like flowers and blue-green or grey foliage

Melaleuca Incana is weeping shrub with soft pale yellow brush-like flowers and blue-green or grey foliage

By 5 years old it will grow to about 2 m high and wide which is a fairly rapid growth rate. Eventual height is at least 3 m though size and shape can be controlled by pruning. The soft pale yellow brush-like flowers are up to 2.5 cm long. The good news is the flowering plentiful and will attract birds and other wildlife. For best results, keep well watered and you will be rewarded with a profusion of flowers. This species can be pruned to form a hedge as it has a dense frame of thin branches from the base. Once established it is resistant to drought and reasonable resistant to frost. If you water regularly with an irrigation dripping system, you will be rewarded with lush growth as well as flowers. As you can see in the photograph, the Leaves are narrow and around 15 mm long. The beautiful yellow brush-like flowers are up to 25 mm long.

Melaleuca leucadendra
Melaleuca leucadendra also known as Fine Leafed Paperbark, Weeping Paperbark or White Tea Tree. This is a large hardy native tree with attractive weeping bright green leaves and papery bark as its name suggest. Typically the bark is white or pale and the dead bark is layered with the appearance of paper.The maximum height of these is about 13 metres with a spread of around 9 metres. The profuse flowers are creamy cylindrical bottlebrush spikes. The tree is native to northern Australia but it will grow on most parts of the mainland.

M. leucadendra has weeping bright green leaves and papery bark

Melaleuca leucadendra has weeping bright green leaves and papery bark

The leaves can be used as a source of tea-tree oil. This plant is both a food source and nesting site or habitat for birds.
The good news for Melbourne Gardeners is that this tree is tolerant to the coastal conditions such as salinity and poor or sandy soils you may encounter in suburbs like Broadbeach. It favours an open to sunny position, so it is an ideal street tree .

M.Leucadendra as a swimming pool screening tree

Melaleuca Leucadendra as a swimming pool screening tree


Other Species
Melaleuca linariifolia
Melaleuca linariifolia will grow to around 9 metres. It can be used both in landscaping or home gardens. It is native to southern Queensland and the east coast of New South Wales. It usually around swamps and along watercourses. Common names include Narrow-leaved Paperbark and Snow-in-Summer, due to its prolific clusters of fluffy white flowers. Some smaller varieties to consider are “Sea Foam” (2.5 metres) or “Snowstorm”, (1.5 metres).

Commercial Landscaping with Melaleuca

The hardy and drought tolerant Melaleuca is great as a street tree or for use in commercial landscaping.

The white peeling bark makes a great contrasting backdrop when planted with blue-green native grasses like Lomandra Seascape.

More Australian Native plant information from Red’s Landscaping

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Tree Landscape Design Melbourne


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Balwyn Landscaping – Commercial Project


11 Best landscapers of all time.




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More reading on Melaleucas


Australian Native Plant Society


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