Tea Tree: A Versatile and Unique Evergreen Shrub

Discover the versatility of the tea tree, an evergreen shrub with unique qualities.

By: THURSD | 05-01-2024 | 8 min read
Floral Designs Floral Events
Tea Tree

You've likely heard about tea tree oil and its many uses, from home remedies to skincare. But where does this versatile essential oil come from? The tea tree, scientifically known as Melaleuca alternifolia, is an Australian native plant that has been used for centuries by indigenous communities. Keep reading to learn all about this unique evergreen shrub and why it makes for an amazing addition to essential oil soap products loved by everyone from athletes to grandparents.


Tea tree feature image
Picture by @Quang Nguyen Vinh


An Aromatic Medicinal Plant That Stands Out From the Rest

Unlike your typical shrub with green leaves, the tea tree has some unique characteristics that set it apart in the plant world. Its long, narrow leaves give off a refreshing aroma when crushed, thanks to oil glands present on the surface. You'll notice the fragrance is reminiscent of nutmeg or pine needles.

The tea tree also sheds its bark in papery flakes, revealing a light tan undersurface that further adds to its distinctive appeal. During autumn through spring, this versatile plant produces an abundance of fuzzy white flower spikes that attract all types of bees and butterflies.

One of the things that makes the tea tree so special is its hardiness and low maintenance needs once established. While it thrives in subtropical climates, tea trees tolerate light frost remarkably well. They require little watering or nutrients to flourish. You're unlikely to have issues with pests or diseases attacking a robust tea tree either.

Growing Conditions for Healthy Tea Trees

If you live in USDA zones 9-11, you can easily grow tea trees outdoors. They perform well in pots too, so gardeners in cooler climates can feature them as specimen plants. Ideally, provide tea trees with moist yet well-draining soil and plenty of sunshine. Though adaptable to sandy, loamy, and even clay-based dirt, a neutral to slightly acidic ph is preferred.

Try mixing peat moss into backfill soil if planting a tea tree in an alkaline garden bed. Mulching around the root zone helps maintain moisture while suppressing weeds. Situate new transplants in areas sheltered from strong winds for the first season. Once established, pruning generally isn't necessary except to shape tea trees as loosely branched shrubs or miniature weeping trees.


Heathy Tea Tree Farm
Picture by @Paul Abel


An All-Star Essential Oil for Active Living

From competitive sports participants to weekend workout warriors, melaleuca oil is growing in popularity thanks to its ability to refresh sweaty skin. Adding it to a simple cold process soap recipe creates a naturally deodorizing body bar that rinses cleanly without residue.

Tea tree oil soap lathers into a rich foam to help inhibit the growth of odor-causing bacteria on the skin's surface. It won't clog pores in the process either. Using tea tree oil soap post-workout helps you feel revived and ready to take on the rest of your day.

Beyond the immediate effects, washing frequently with melaleuca oil soap may offer ongoing skin perks over time. Tea tree oil's anti-inflammatory properties can aid muscle recovery while minimizing body acne breakouts caused by dirt accumulation. Your skin will breathe easy so you can too.

For martial artists who suffer mat burns, abrasions or fungal infections like ringworm or nail fungus from constant barefoot training, tea tree is a smart soap ingredient choice too. Just be sure to properly dilute it to prevent stinging irritated skin. Using martial arts soap post-training or a soak in a tea tree oil bath can work wonders as well.

An Essential Oil Soap Staple in Every Household

Given all its versatility, it comes as no surprise tea tree oil has earned so many fans worldwide. It makes sense to keep some on hand for all its nifty household and medicinal applications. But even if you don't have an interest in using melaleuca oil as anything other than a fantastic ingredient in your handmade soaps, it's sure to become a fast favorite.

Tea tree oil soap has a light herbal aroma that isn't overpowering. Its antiseptic and clarifying perks leave you feeling refreshed. your skin will thank you, but your entire mind and body reaps the rewards too through elevated mood and energy levels. Truly, tea tree oil is one of those essential oil soap recipe additions everyone can benefit from.

Grandparents, pro fighters and folks from all walks of life are bound to love natural soap containing this legendary Australian wonder oil. easy to grow and use, the tea tree plant really is amazingly versatile. With proper dilution, melaleuca oil soap suits most skin types. It brings the bushland's healing magic straight into the shower or bath.

Skincare, Medicine, and More: Tea Tree Uses

For centuries, Indigenous Australians utilized tea tree leaves topically and internally to treat cuts, burns, respiratory issues and more thanks to the plant's antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory capacities. Today, tea tree oil extracted through steam distillation of the leaves retains these same highly beneficial medicinal compounds.

The most common uses for melaleuca oil are in natural skincare and aromatherapy sessions. Applying it neat or diluted can help clear up fungal infections, acne, athlete's foot and even head lice without causing resistance. Diffusing tea tree oil freshens indoor air while promoting relaxation.

Around the home, it makes a terrific natural surface disinfectant and air purifier. Add a few drops to your laundry to kill germs and deodorize fabrics. Use tea tree oil preparations as a non-toxic pest repellent spray for houseplants. The options are nearly endless!

For outdoor landscapes, tea trees control erosion on slopes while attracting helpful pollinators. Their dense evergreen foliage works beautifully for privacy hedges and screens. If left unpruned, tea trees blossom into large specimen shrubs or gracefully weeping small trees perfect for gardens.

Harness the Healing Powers of Tea Tree Oil Extract

To reap all the benefits of tea trees in a convenient form, manufacturers distill oil from the leaves and terminal branchlets using steam. The resulting clear essential oil owes its medicinal qualities to a compound called terpinen-4-ol. This and other components work together to eliminate certain bacteria, viruses and fungi at the source.

While you can purchase pre-made products containing tea tree oil, creating your own custom soaps, ointments and toiletries using this versatile essence allows you to control the strength. Just be aware that despite its perks, applying tea tree oil neat (at full concentration) risks skin irritation in sensitive individuals.

As a general rule of thumb, limit dilution to about 1 part carrier oil or liquid to 1 part tea tree oil. Great options for blending include coconut, olive and jojoba oils along with aloe vera gel, honey, sea salt and more. Not only does this prevent unwanted reactions, but it helps stretch your supply of melaleuca oil further.


Tea extracting process
Picture by @Safari Consoler


An Ideal Addition to Essential Oil Soap Recipes

One particularly enjoyable way to incorporate diluted tea tree into your self-care routine is through home crafted essential oil soap. Blending a teaspoon per pound of soap batter makes an excellent deodorizing and clarifying body bar ideal for oily, blemish-prone skin.

Tea tree's fresh, evergreen-herbal aroma combines beautifully with other forest-inspired essential oils like pine, cedarwood and rosemary in cold process soap recipes. It also pairs nicely with crisp citrus and floral notes.

For a botanical twist, try adding powdered matcha, dandelion petals, ground oatmeal or chopped olive leaf pieces to tea tree soap batters. Not only do these natural botanical inclusions provide decorative visual appeal, but they also gently polish skin. The end result is a custom essential oil soap bar that looks beautiful and makes you feel amazing.

What's not to love about that? But tea tree oil soap isn't merely beneficial for the average consumer to use in their daily bathing routine. Both professional and amateur athletes are discovering its helpful qualities as well.

Other Uses and Applications

In addition to personal care and around-the-home uses, tea tree oil has a number of industrial applications as well. Its antimicrobial properties make it well-suited as a natural, non-toxic disinfectant and sanitizer for commercial spaces like gyms, schools, and offices. Some key industrial uses of melaleuca oil include:

Food processing and agriculture: Tea tree oil works as a botanical pest deterrent and can also sanitize processing and storage equipment. It leaves no chemical residue behind. Some farmers even spray a diluted tea tree mixture on crops to deter fungus and other plant diseases. The oil also repels rodents from barns, warehouses, and other structures.

Commercial cleaning: Companies that supply all-natural cleaning products commonly include tea tree oil for its disinfectant abilities combined with an environmentally-friendly formula. The essential oil tackles stubborn soap scum in ware washing facilities, general grime on floors and windows, and sanitizes restrooms. It also removes mildew and mold.

Textiles: Laundry operations and dry cleaning services can utilize tea tree oil to thoroughly disinfect laundry loads. It works well at low concentrations in huge commercial washing machines. The oil helps fabrics resist odors between washes as well. Some companies even spray it as an anti-static and lint adhering agent when pressing and finishing textiles like linens. As a bonus, it repels pests like carpet beetles and fabric moths too.

Final Words

Hopefully now your interest is piqued to try out amazing tea tree oil for yourself in easy handmade soap recipes or via premade products. Keep an eye out for this unique essential oil in both topical skin care preparations and aromatherapy. It really does live up to all the hype thanks to its woodsy, refreshing scent and natural healing powers.

However you choose to enjoy it, the tea tree truly is an incredible plant. No wonder it has become so prized in essential oil soap recipes today. This versatile Australian native feels right at home in gardens almost anywhere, waiting to share its abundant gifts.



Can't get enough?

Subscribe to the
newsletter, and get
bedazzled with awesome
flower & plant updates