The South Sea Myrtle, also called “Leptospermum scoparium”, is a very pretty flowering plant that comes from the Australian-New Zealand flora. The care of the South Sea Myrtle requires a little bit of tact, but it is still worth the effort to give it a place on our balcony.
In this article, we want to give you a few helpful tips on caring for the South Sea Myrtle, but also inform you about how often you should water the balcony plant. By the way, you can buy Leptospermum scoparium in well-stocked garden centers or online garden stores.
The South Sea Myrtle is originally native to New Zealand and the northern part of Australia. For this reason, it is often referred to as New Zealand Myrtle or Manuka plant. The latter name is due to the Maori natives of New Zealand, who recognized and used the plant centuries ago in many ways in their traditional medicine.
In the vastness of New Zealand nature, the South Sea Myrtle grows in large shrubs or even as a tree and it can reach considerable heights of 10 meters or more. It thrives best in locations such as river valleys, hillsides, or forest edges. Like most other myrtle plants, the South Sea Myrtle is relatively undemanding and it does not require many nutrients. However, it is important that it be in permanently moist soil, but not too wet.
The leaves of the plant are relatively small and they give off an aromatic scent when rubbed. The essential oils from South Sea Myrtle have been used by the Maori to treat many medical conditions because of their healing properties.
In the flowering period from January to June, the South Sea Myrtle shines in a splendor of flowers in the colors white, pink or red. The pretty flowers then grow both in the leaf axils and at the ends of the branches.
Did you know that honey bees produce the world famous and precious Manuka honey from the flower nectar of the South Sea Myrtle? The flowers have a very special property: they are the only flowers that contain the carbohydrate dihydroxyacetone (DHA), which is absorbed by the bees when collecting the nectar and is converted into the active ingredient methylglyoxal (MGO) during processing in the beehive. Due to the high concentration of MGO, the Manuka honey is said to have an antibacterial and wound-healing effect.
Caring for the South Sea Myrtle
In our climate, the South Sea Myrtle is not winter hardy and it must therefore be kept as a tub or pot plant. There it can nevertheless reach a proud size of one to three meters. It is important that it is properly watered. In fact, from its native land, it is permanently accustomed to moist soils, but at the same time permeable.
The most important factor in its care is therefore the well-adjusted dosage of water. If you give too little water, the root ball will dry out and the plant will die as a result. However, if you water too much, it will lead to waterlogging, which the South Sea Myrtle does not tolerate well at all. Accordingly, water should not be left in the saucer under any circumstances. It is best to always wait until the soil is half dry before watering. The best time to water is in the morning with low-lime water or rainwater.
The right location is defined quite simply: in the sun! Since the flowering period of the South Sea Myrtle already begins in winter and it needs a lot of light for this, the pot should be put out again as early as possible or placed at the window. Do not worry, the plant can well withstand temperatures down to -5 ° C. The best location is a south balcony or a south or southwest window in the house. Perfect is a winter garden with plenty of daylight. If you have a location ready for the plant here, you will get a lot of pleasure from the pretty flowers early on.
Another tip: The South Sea Myrtle should not stand completely free outside. Instead, a spot in a corner protected by two walls is suitable. To ensure that the plant also gets the sun safely, it can be helpful to position the top somewhat elevated.
Proper soil and nutrients
The South Sea Myrtle is very undemanding and therefore does not require fertilizer. A loose rhododendron soil is best for potting. If you mix in one or two hands of quartz sand, the permeability for water is increased. Above all, it is important that the pot has drainage holes.
Pruning the plant
To maintain the most compact and well-branched South Sea Myrtle possible, it helps to prune it regularly. Similar to lavender, you can keep the growth relatively short. However, don’t cut too deep into the old wood; the plant can’t tolerate that well. The best time to prune is after flowering.