Friday, July 27, 2012

The Herbal Garden: Tea Tree

   Some years ago we acquired a tea tree start from our local extension office and had no idea what to do with it. Today the shrub stands over eight feet tall and is a vital part of our herbal garden. Soft wispy branches hold feathery leaf sprigs that, when touched, yield the familiar fragrance of tea tree oil. Throughout the year we harvest hefty snips for various practical uses around the home.

   1. Drying...sprigs of tea tree are bunched and hung to dry in open air out of direct light. Be aware, it does lighten a bit in color..and shed when jostled. Once dry, I store them in airtight jars.
   2. Vinegar...sprigs are snipped and placed in a jar, covered with vinegar, and sealed with a tight fitting lid. Left a few weeks, the strained vinegar is excellent for cleaning and healing purposes. To make a stronger solution..simply repeat the process several times with the same vinegar.
   3. Sachet...fresh or dry sprigs are placed in cloth pouches and placed in closets, pantries, and storage tubs to keep bugs at bay while adding a fresh scent.
   4. Oil...added to warm grape seed oil, tea tree will release precious oils making a wonderful addition to soaps and skin treatments.
   5. Compost..spent sprigs are tossed under plants and into the compost bin lending their qualities to the soil.
   Our tea tree grows in full sun with well drained soil. Yearly additions of compost are added to the soil and a mulch of leaves keeps it moist. I don't technically prune it, instead, snip here and there as need demands.
   What about you? Do you have any tea tree uses to share with us today?

4 comments:

Lisa said...

I would love to get one of those trees. Do I ask the nursery for a Tea Tree or does it have another name? Tea tree oil is one of my favorites. Love it in bar soap, cleaners, and deodorizers.

Lisa

Simply Scaife Family said...

Mine came from the local extension office...I would ask around the local nurseries or I found a source here http://sagegardener.blogspot.com/2007/09/growing-great-tea-tree.html

Keli Martin said...

I love tea tree oil! We use it in our cleaning products, homemade bug spray, even in our shampoo (which is basically just a little castile soap diluted with water). The tea tree oil made my husbands chronic dandruff problems disappear! Love the stuff. Now I will have to look for a tea tree plant to add to our herb garden :D

Simply Scaife Family said...

Keli..would love to know more about your shampoo!