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Melaleuca viridiflora | Growing + Care Guide

Much like the bottlebrush, the Melaleuca viridiflora is a very popular Aussie native which produces intricate and interesting red blooms. Endemic to Western Australia and tropical regions of Northern Australia, this incredible species is a brilliant way to add a statement piece to your garden. 

Although best suited for outdoor growth, this species can be grown inside a greenhouse and in a pot. Here is everything you need to know to cultivate, care for and grow Melaleuca viridiflora


Melaleuca viridiflora Guide

Family: Myrtaceae
Genus: Melaleuca
Species: viridiflora
Common Name: Burgundy Weeper, broad-leaved Paperbark, Weeping Red-Flowering Paperbark
Flower Colour: Red
Foliage Colour: Green
Growth Habit: Small tree to 5m
Flowering: Autumn

Melaleuca viridiflora is a very popular Aussie native which produces intricate and interesting red blooms

The Melaleuca genus, belonging to the Myrtaceae family, has over 300 different species. Affectionately known as paperbarks or tea-tees, these plants range from small shrubs to large trees with a range of growth and flowering habits. 

The Melaleuca viridiflora is an exciting species of the genus, growing a light grey bark, dark green leaves and brilliant red blooms. Considered a medium growing, upright tree, the viridiflora grows as much as 8 to 10 metres tall and 3 to 4 metres wide. 

It’s a particularly showy tree of the Melaleuca species, which will attract a range of birds, bees and butterflies to your garden. Other common names for this cultivar include the broad-leaved Paperbark, Weeping Red-Flowering Paperbark and the Burgundy Weeper

Although it is often seen being used for its landscaping potential, such as along walls, trellis’ or as an ornamental shrub, the viridiflora also has some commercial applications, such as:

  • Its strong and distinctive bark has often been used for posts and poles. 
  • When dried, the wood works incredibly well for fires. 
  • An aromatic essential oil can be made from the leaves. 

How to Grow Melaleuca viridiflora

How to Grow Melaleuca Viridiflora

Red flowering melaleuca can be grown in a range of environments. Ideally, you will want to grow your Melaleuca viridiflora Red in a sunny or semi-shaded spot.

Although it is drought-hardy, the viridiflora has no issue with wet or waterlogged soil. In the wild, this species is found in marshy areas, which is why it does tend to prefer clay-based soils. If growing in a pot, opt for a loam-based compost mixture. 

It is important to note that this cultivar can be frost and wind sensitive. As such, a slightly sheltered area is recommended for outdoor planting.

How to Propagate Broad Leaved Paperbark

Propagation by both seed and cutting is guaranteed to be successful. Ideally, you will want to sow your seeds or take your cutting during spring or autumn. Avoid planting during the hottest or coldest season of the year. 

Propagating Broad Leaved Paperbark from Seed

To propagate from seed, you will need to:

  • Remove the elongated seed capsules from an existing plant. These are strikingly similar to those of the Callistemon.
  • These seeds can be collected at any time in the year. However, the best result comes from seeds that are approximately 12 months old. 
  • Sow the seeds onto the surface of a porous seeding mix. Be sure not to push the seed into the soil. 
  • Lightly sprinkle with a little bit of soil and water thoroughly. 
  • Keep your seedling in a warm and sunny position, ensuring the soil remains moist. 
  • Germination will take around 14 to 30 days.

Sometimes, native seeds can take longer to germinate. Be sure not to discard seedlings too early should you not be seeing any growth. 

How to Propagate Broad Leaved Paperbark

Propagating Melaleuca viridiflora by Cutting

For the red flowering melaleuca, many gardeners will, however, recommend propagation by cutting. In some cases, it is the best way to guarantee the same flowering habit as the parent plant. 

Here is what you’ll need to do: 

  • Remove a stem cutting, approximately 75-100mm in length. 
  • Remove any leaves along with the lower third of the cutting. 
  • Wound the lower stem with a grafting knife or scissors. This will help to encourage root growth. 
  • Dip the wounded end into a rooting hormone and plant into a rich, organic soil mixture.

Planting Melaleuca in Your Garden

Once your plant has begun to produce new growth, or if you’ve bought a sapling from a native supplier, it will be time to plant. It is recommended to slightly prepare the soil before planting with some plant fertiliser or compost. 

Then you’ll need to:

  • Dig a hole twice the size of the rootball. 
  • Remove the plant from its container, and tousle the roots loose. 
  • Position into the hole and backfill with soil. 
  • Form a raised ring around the base which will help keep the roots moist. 
  • Water well until new growth appears.

How to Care for Red Flowering Melaleuca

How to Care for Red Flowering Melaleuca

One of the biggest benefits of growing the burgundy weeper is that it requires little to no care once planted. These are extremely hardy plants and will often adapt to their environment. 

Occasional pruning can be done to regulate shape and size or to remove any spent flowers. However, these do tend to fall off naturally after the blooming season. Be sure to use the right pruning tool for the job. 

Water occasionally should it be a particularly dry season. Otherwise, your burgundy weeper will get all the water it needs from natural rainfall. 

If growing in a pot, it is advisable to support your viridiflora with a little bit of fertiliser in the spring or before flowering season. 

This species isn’t known to have any pest or disease issues. However, red spider mites and scale insects can become an issue when present in other parts of your garden. Try to treat these pests with natural remedies before heading to the chemicals.

Melaleuca viridiflora Frequently Asked Questions

What are common names for Melaleuca viridiflora?

The common name for Melaleuca viridiflora is the Broad-Leaved Paperbark. The peeling bark that gives the genus its common name can be a fire hazard, but in open spaces provides beautiful silhouettes and exaggerates the form of the trunk.

‘Broad-leaved’ refers to the thick but uniform leaf forms that grow in dropping clusters from mature branches.

Is Melaleuca viridiflora an Australian native?

Melaleuca viridiflora is native to northern Australia and New Guinea, and is found growing on damp soil, often in the shade of larger trees in woodlands, swamps, and bog land, or along the side of streams where it has ready access to flowing water.

How tall is Melaleuca viridiflora?

Melaleuca viridiflora will naturally grow to 10m tall in the wild but its woodland settings can often reach 20m due to light deprivation and natural competition. In gardens, or open spaces, the broad-leaved paperbark tree will usually only reach 5-6m tall.

When does Melaleuca viridiflora flower?

Melaleuca viridiflora will flower in winter in its natural habitat, but in cooler parts of the country, can flower as early as mid-autumn, and last until mid-spring. Outside of Australia, northern hemisphere growers may find these trees flowering at any time of year.

What are the benefits of Melaleuca viridiflora?

Melaleuca viridiflora can be used to produce tea tree oil, which is useful for all sorts of medical herbal treatments, either as an inhalant or topical treatment. In both cases, it opens up pores and dries out skin oils. It can also be used to soothe bites and skin irritation.

What are the uses of Melaleuca viridiflora?

Melaleuca viridiflora was traditionally used for its timber and bark. The papery bark is an excellent fire starter and can be used for shelter, or formed into food containers.

There are also plenty of modern and traditional remedies that use the leaves, bark, and stems to create potent infusions, to treat coughs and colds. 

Is Melaleuca viridiflora toxic?

Melaleuca viridiflora is not toxic to dogs, cats, humans, or horses, and even when ingested will not cause any severe issues. The only cases where toxicity is common is in rabbits and rodents, which can exhibit allergies and whose stomachs cannot properly process tea tree oil, either before or after distillation.

Is Melaleuca viridiflora edible?

Melaleuca viridiflora has edible flowers, and its leaves can be used to make a potent and strongly flavoured tea. If making a tea tree leaf tea, try adding flowers to infuse their sweet nectar and add some extra flavour to the spicy drink.

Is Melaleuca viridiflora good for wildlife?

Native bees and butterflies love Melaleuca viridiflora. Its open flowers and vivid colouring are attractive to most pollinating insects from up to a mile away, and its leaves are consumed by caterpillars and leaf cutter bees as a food source and nesting material.

Is Melaleuca viridiflora invasive?

Melaleuca viridiflora seeds readily and rapidly after flowering so can easily be invasive in gardens, so the seedlings are slow growing and easy to control. The roots of Melaleuca viridiflora are not invasive or damaging to property, so it can be grown reasonably close to structures and houses with no damage.

When should you prune Melaleuca viridiflora?

The best time to prune Melaleuca viridiflora is immediately after flowering. This helps with shape, structure, and garden maintenance for a few different reasons. Firstly, pruning after flowering reduces seed production, and limits the spread of seed as a result.

Secondly, pruning after flowering limits the production of non-flowering stems, and a denser blooming form the following year.

Can you grow Melaleuca viridiflora in pots?

While Melaleuca viridiflora is better suited to open spaces, where it can spread and mature to its full height, it grows surprisingly well in pots and containers. Even in small gardens or balconies, you can keep these trees looking happy and healthy with an annual prune to limit their size, and a biennial root prune to promote more efficient nutrient uptake.

Melaleuca Viridiflora Growing + Care Guide

Wrapping Up Our Melaleuca viridiflora Growing Guide

So, there you have it. Everything you need to know to grow big, bold and beautiful Melaleuca viridiflora plants. Wherever you decide to grow them, keep in mind that they will need a decent amount of sunlight for a plentiful bloom.

In particularly dry seasons, keep an eye on the soil. Melaleuca viridiflora prefers the wet over the cold. 

Last Updated on February 22, 2024

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