Australia is home to 140 or more species of melaleucas, and many of these show up in Western gardens. All have narrow, sometimes needlelike leaves and bear clustered flowers with prominent stamens; the blossoms attract birds. Since each flower cluster resembles a bottlebrush, some melaleucas are called bottlebrushes, though that name is more generally applied to members of the genus Callistemon.
Tight clusters of woody seed capsules are attached directly to branches; these hang on for several years, forming odd, decorative cylinders around twigs and branches. Many melaleucas have interestingly contorted branches and bark that peels off in thick, papery layers.
All melaleucas are easy to grow. Most withstand heat, wind, seacoast conditions, poor soil, and limited moisture. Most are vigorous and fast growing; for a natural appearance, control by cutting back selected branches to a well-placed side branch. Almost all melaleucas make good screens; some of the larger ones are useful as flowering or shade trees.Melaleuca nesophila
Fast growth to 15–20 ft. tall (possibly to 30 ft.) and about as wide. Grows naturally as a small tree. Develops gnarled, heavy branches that sprawl or ascend in picturesque patterns. Grayish cream to pale brown bark is thick and spongy; gray-green leaves are thick, roundish, to 1 in. long. Roundish bottlebrush flower clusters to 1 in. wide are produced at branch ends most of the year; they open mauve pink, fade to white with yellow tips. Use as a tree or a big, informal screen; or shear as a hedge. Takes ocean winds and spray; poor, rocky soil; desert heat. Little to regular water.
Native to the foothills of Arizona’s Rincon Mountains. Grows to 12–15 ft. tall and wide, w...
From Australia. Grows slowly to 15–35 ft. tall and 12–25 ft. wide. Rich green, glossy, nea...
Most are virtually indestructible plants with long, trailing stems. Usually seen in containers or hang...