The Mighty Tea Tree

tea tree 2
Tea Tree: [Melaleuca alternifolia]

The shrub is native to Australia. The bark has a paper like feel and texture, with pointed leaves and flowers in various shades of white.

Cultivation: Tea Trees are started from seed, usually in the spring. The seeds are tiny, so start them in a fine textured seed starting mix. Moisten the mixture and press a few seeds on top. Don’t cover the seeds. Place the containers or pots in a warm area. Check once a week to see if the seeds have sprouted. Once the seeds have sprouted, move the pots or containers to a warm and sunny area. Under the right conditions, a Tea Tree can grow several feet in just one season.

The plants do best in full sun, with moist soil and regular waterings. Use an all natural fertilizer once a month to keep the plants in good condition. I would suggest you use fish emulsion or sea kelp. Both have readily available nitrogen and trace elements and minerals.

To keep the Tea Tree plants from growing to tall, prune out the tops every three months. This pruning will help regulate growth and give the plant a more uniform “shrub” look. If the plants are growing outdoors in garden soil, mulch them heavily before winter, using hay, straw or cocoa hulls. If the Tea Tree plants are growing in containers, bring them indoors and place them in a warm, sunny window. Be sure to water the plants at least once a week. Tea Tree likes moist soil, so don’t allow the soil to dry out.

The oil of the Tea Tree is used in anti-fungal preparations, while the ground up leaves are used in cosmetic and household cleaning solutions. Tea Tree is a well known germicidal. Tea Tree is an antiseptic herb with a clean fragrance. The oil extract and the leaves both contain anti-fungal and antimicrobial properties.

Therapeutic uses: External use only. Tea Tree essential oil can be applied to minor cuts and bee stings, insect bites. Tea Tree oil can be diluted with water and used as a mosquito repellent.

This is a recipe for 4 Thieves Cleaning solution Using Tea Tree Leaves:

I add equal parts of dried citrus peel, lemon balm, rosemary, eucalyptus, whole cloves, cinnamon bark, dried Tea Tree leaves. Add these herbs to a stainless steel sauce pan. Add 2 quarts of water to the sauce pan and let the herbs and water simmer for about 30 minutes. Allow the mixture to cool, and strain out the herbs. Use this herb infusion to clean counter tops, bathrooms and pet areas. The infusion is so potent and powerful, you can dilute it with water when cleaning. Add 1/4 cup of the infusion to a gallon of hot water and add 3 drops ordinary dish detergent. The dish detergent helps disperse the cleaning solution. Wipe surfaces down with a sponge and rinse with cool water.  Allow surfaces to air dry.

~ Meadow Walker


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