Approximately 100 species, and many varieties. Many species make good hedging and screening plants.
There are varieties suited to most purposes, as a screening plant, in a rockery, as a hedge, amongst other shrubs to provide variation in foliage texture or colour; or even for cutting s flowers or foliage.
Many have colourful flowers, that are particularly attractive to birds.
In some situations, melaleucas are called tea trees, although strictly speaking, they are NOT a tea tree.
Their appearance bares a strong resemblance to tea trees (Leptospermum), however, the flower of a tea tree does not have a bottle brush appearance (The Leptospermum flower has less dominant filaments, and more obvious petals).
Flowers are normally like bottle brushes, but smaller than Callistemons (there are a few exceptions). In recent years however, scientists have reclassified Callistemons to be Melaleucas, although many in the gardening industry still tend to use the old classification.
Due to their often flaky paper like bark, they are most commonly called paperbarks.
They generally tolerate most soils and some waterlogging; adapt to sun or partial shade, and tolerate both cool and warmer climates (though you need to select the appropriate variety for the climate). Most are drought tolerant.
Feed only with organic or slow release foods. Respond to light pruning in spring and autumn.
All propagate easily from seed. Most species can also be propagated by cuttings.
M. bracteata ‘Golden Gem’ -Golden, fine needle like leaves, white flowers, to 1.5m tall and up to 2.5m spread, adapts well to temperate or tropical climates, can be kept smaller if you wish, and looks better if regularly pruned throughout the year.
M. decussata -Greyish foliage, pink or white flowers, hardy and fast growing in temperate to tropical areas, tolerates wet conditions, 1.5 to 2m tall.
M. pulchella -60cm to 1m tall, to 1m spread, mauve flowers in summer and autumn, very attractive and does well in temperate or sub tropical areas, tolerating and preferring drier conditions than some other. Only tip prune this species.
M. radula - fine leaved foliage plant that prunes well for small area. Small white bottlebrush-blooms.
M. thymifolia -50cm to 1m tall, pink, white or purplish flowers. Very hardy, good for a low hedge, greyish green foliage, can grow from temperate areas to tropical climates.