Wednesday, December 11, 2013

My favorite plant this week: Melaleuca thymifolia

I wasn't sure I had any standouts in my garden this week but, on my walk with my cat this morning, I found 3 good prospects and narrowed my choice down to Melaleuca thymifolia, commonly known as Thyme-leaved Honey Myrtle or Feather Honey Myrtle.  It's a relatively new introduction to my backyard border.  It's still small in stature and not particularly easy to photograph.  The flower color also clashes rather badly with some of its neighbors, most notably the Salvia 'Wendy's Wish' growing next to it, so one or another plant may have to be moved.





I bought the plant for the foliage but what attracted my attention this morning were its blooms.  The label on the pot described the flowers as pink or purple so I wasn't at all clear about the floral color when I selected its location.

My relatively poor photo of the flower

Wikipedia's picture


Melaleuca thymifolia hails from eastern Australia.  It reportedly tolerates poor soils and, in its native habitat, is frequently found growing in sandstone and clay-based soils.  Its foliage produces a spicy scent when bruised.   According to the Australian National Herbarium, it can flower for up to 8 months of the year.   It's reputed to attract bees, butterflies and birds and to be free of disease and pest problems.

Predictions of its dimensions vary quite a bit but 3 feet tall and wide (1 meter) is the most common projection.  It prefers sun but can tolerate some shade.  It requires moderate to average water and is hardy in USDA zones 9a-11 (Sunset zones 8, 9 and 12-24).  Predictions of its cold tolerance range from 25 to 18F (-6.6 to -8C).

This is my contribution to Loree's danger garden meme this week.  You can find Loree's spikier selection here.

11 comments:

  1. Funny enough it's the first time I've seen photos of this plant despite seeing it as a common additive to koi care medications. Fascinating!

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    1. With the (admittedly limited) research I did on the plant, I hadn't come across the fact that it had medicinal uses. Thanks for the information!

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  2. Very nice, and really cool flowers! They look like brightly coloured bunches of feathers in the wikipedia image.

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    1. The flowers came as a major surprise, Amy. They really do look like feathers.

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  3. Never heard of this plant! How interesting! It has beautiful foliage, and the flower is pretty, too. And it flowers up to 8 months?!! What a hard working plant!

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    1. The 8-month stat came from Australian horticulturalists - I can only hope it does as well here.

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  4. Those flowers are just crazy, in a good way, and from the photo at least it wouldn't occur to me to think they clash with the salvia.

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    1. The label never said anything about the shape of the flowers so they took me by surprise. They are very unusual.

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  5. Way cool flowers and foliage! One more reason I need to move to a warmer climate.

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    1. You might not feel the same after one of our hot, dry summers (on top of the also dry spring and fall).

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  6. One forgets there are some fabulous Melaleucas, not just the big ugly tree that is always badly pruned. That clashes with 'Wendy's Wish'? (shows you my color sense).

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