Category: Ornamental Plant of the Week


Melaleuca nesophila

Pink Melaleuca

Not to be confused with Melaleuca quinquinervia (the Paperbark Tree) the Pink Melaleuca grows naturally as a small tree between 15 and 20 feet tall but can be used in a wide variety of instances from clipped hedges, to a large screen shrub/tree, as an accent tree, or even as a shade tree.   The Paperbark Tree is the common Melaleuca everyone thinks of and that is seen all over with its distinctive peeling, spongy, whitish to light brown bark.  The Pink Melaleuca doesn’t share this annoying trait with it’s brother although it does have interesting, swirling bark.  A very tough tree that can take abuse, ocean spray, heavy winds, high heat, and poor soil and come out the other side looking attractive and thriving.  It has unique, attractive flowers that appear as feathery globes on the branch ends throughout the year.  An additional reason for it’s use is its growth habit.  Often developing a gnarled, sprawling appearance it can easily provide a very interesting visual addition to the yard or garden that can even evoke a sense of banzai at times.

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Leptospermum scoparium

New Zealand Tea Tree

There are many varieties you’re likely to come across for this plant depending on size, growth habit, and flower color.  Obviously a native of New Zealand this plant’s leaves can in fact be brewed into tea…although I’m told…not great tea.  Tea Trees have become more popular in recent years and can sometimes now be found in the Home Depots and Lowe’s of the world in addition to the more specialized nurseries.  Valued for their very showy flowers they make great plants for numerous uses.  Blooming profusely for long periods of the year the plant will become completely covered in small single or double flowers in bright reds, pinks, and white.  They can be used as accents to add a punch of color to the garden, as background plants, and they can also be trimmed and shaped as hedges or topiary to provide an interesting alternative to normal hedge plants with their flower color.  Anywhere from 3 feet to 8 feet tall they feature tiny, needle-like leaves that almost give them an evergreen look and a very fine texture.  As with all the other plants so far they are water conservative plants and are very hardy, able to take most soils, coastal conditions, and container planting easily.

Westringia fruticosa

Coast Rosemary

Other than both belonging in the Lamiaceae (Labiatae) family, a family made up of upwards of 7,200 species this plant is not related to the common rosemary.  The herb is found in the Mediteranean while this evergreen shrub is native to Australia.  Departing from showy, accent plants for the plant of the week this week Coast Rosemary is a plant that can fill many roles.  Left alone it can grow 3-6 feet tall and 5-10 feet wide with an attractive fine texture and fairly wispy appearance.  Extremely tough and resilient it is great as a background and barrier plant in addition to being used to contrast with other plants for it’s texture and gray-green foliage color or simply as an attractive filler.  It can also be clipped and can form attractive formal hedges.  While the flowers are not overly showy neither are they inconsequential.  Always light in color they will run the gamut from white, to sky blue, and even a very, very light violet.  Perhaps not as noticeable as other plants in the industry, evergreen shrubs like Coast Rosemary are incredibly important and add a lot to any yard or garden.

Agave attenuata

Foxtail Agave

Probably one of the most widely used succulents available this Mexican native forms attractive geometric rosettes, perfect for accent plantings in both beds and containers.  Extremely adaptable and hardy, it can take dry conditions and direct sun as one would expect of an agave but also does well with regular water so it can planted in much more than just xeriscape conditions.  Growing up to 5 feet across it is also unique in that it features NO spines, making it kid and pet “friendly”.  Like many agaves, Foxtail also suckers.  Meaning that it will grow “pups” off the base of the plant and one will eventually become many (see pictures).  These suckers can be cut off and replanted by themselves to form a completely new plant.  Thus, one agave can lead to many and a nice little return on your investment.  After several years an agave may flower although it can differ from one plant to the next.  Attenuata sends a striking 10-14 foot tall spike of yellow-green flowers straight up into the sky, but flowering usually results in the death of the individual plant (hence the reason for the suckers).

Anigozanthus flavidus

Kangaroo Paw

Based on the pictures you can probably see the attractiveness of this plant.  It’s an evergreen perennial native to Australia so it also only takes moderate amounts of water and lots and lots of sun.  Coming in yellows, bright and dull reds, coral, pink, and orange it looks best planted in groupings (see pictures) rather than just singly where the flowers can sway with the wind.  Different varieties offer different heights and sizes but they all have a long flowering season typically from early spring to late fall at which point you’ll want to cut the flower stalks off to the ground.  This is an increasingly popular plant and can now be found in almost every nursery including the Home Depots and Lowe’s of the world.