The exploding Leptospermum ‘Starry Night’

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I have been monitoring these Leptospermum obovatum ‘Starry Night’ shrubs (that   I planted in a neighbours garden) closely, waiting, waiting for them to flower and BOOM! last week they exploded!

I love reddish or burgundy foliage and there are several species of Leptospermum with a red tinge to the leaf however ‘Starry Night’ is my favourite. The leaves turn a deep maroon when in full sun and the 2-3 metres shrub has a weeping habit.

Tea trees flower in summer and this species is profuse in bloom, attracting birds and bees alike as well as providing shelter for smaller birds.

Leptopsermum ‘Starry Night’ makes an excellent screen or hedging shrub and grows quickly in full sun or part shade. It also looks lovely when not in flower as the leaves and habit contrast easily with other medium shrubs, as you can see in the image below where it was interplanted with Casuarina ‘Green Wave’.

Most Leptospermum are very quick growers and in ideal conditions with plenty of water and sun will easily put on a metre a year of new growth.

So why not try a tree tree screen and mix in some reds with Leptospermum ‘Starry Night’? its even a little bit Chrismassy 😉


30 responses to “The exploding Leptospermum ‘Starry Night’”

  1. Jenny


    Very grateful for your blog. I am thinking of planting Leptospermum Starry Nights to screen the ugly new brick townhouse which has been built right outside our kitchen window. The tag at the nursery says Height to 2.5m. From past experience I know these tags can be inaccurate so just hoping to get your opinion of whether this accurate please? Hoping to achieve an informal screen of 3 – 4 metres. Thank you

    1. Kath Gadd

      Hi Jenny,

      Yes, you are right you can expect them to grow between 3 to 4 metres, if left un pruned they will become a small tree which you could walk under.
      So I would keep pruning them to make sure they develop a dense screening habit.

      Best Wishes,


  2. Ana Ramudo

    Hi, this winter I planted 8 starry nights. They seem to have stablished well but lately two of them started turning brown. One of these already lost its leaves completely. We thought it was dead and almost dug it out but now new leaves are growing again. The other one seems to be going through the same process. The green colour of the leaves is fading. Not sure what the problem is and I worried it can happen to the others. They were all planted at the same time and have been watered the same. The others are gorgeous and have lots of buds almost about to bloom. Any suggestions of what could be happening?

    1. Kath Gadd

      Hi Ana,

      My apologies for the late reply, there are several possible reasons for your ‘Starry Night’s demise it could be from the webbing caterpillar, scale or borer. There is a good article here which may be of interest.

      Good Luck!


  3. Patti

    Why is my starry night not flowering?

    1. Kath Gadd

      Hi Patti,

      Sorry for the late response. It’s hard to say without some more info. Can you tell me where you’re located, whether it’s in a sunny spot and what the soil type is? Starry night likes sun so if it’s in a shaded position it might be less inclined to flower.

      Best wishes,

  4. Gina

    I too have just planted a starry night, and I would prefer a tree effect rather than a scrub. So how do I hop about creating a tree, would I have to trim all the small growth from underneath. Your advice is greatly appreciated

    1. Kath Gadd

      Hi Gina,

      Yes you could prune the bottom branches to create more of a tree-like habit.
      Let me know how you go and good luck,


  5. Joanna

    How far apart should I plant starry night to create a good screen?

    1. Kath Gadd

      Hi Joanna,

      I space them 700mm-1m apart for a screening hedge,

      Best Wishes,


  6. Liz

    Can you plant starry night in a large pot in Sth Aust.?

    Thank you,

    1. Kath Gadd

      Hi Liz,

      Apologies for the delayed response! I haven’t seen tea trees planted in pots before, but it’s possible. A couple of things to be mindful of if you do try:
      – Use a sealed pot. Unsealed pots, like the standard terracotta ones, suck moisture out of the soil and dry out far too quickly. Leptospermums like moisture.
      – You’ll probably need to water it every 2-3 days and keep a close eye on it.
      – Place it in a position where it won’t dry out so quickly. Tea trees like some sun to grow quickly, but it will be more important to keep the soil hydrated for potted specimens. Part shade is probably ideal.

      The smaller tea tree varieties such as spectabile L. ‘Aphrodite’ would probably do better in a pot, as their root system would also be smaller.

      Good luck,

  7. Paul De Stefanis

    I planted 7 x Leptospermum Starry Nights and they have never flowered. The are hedge against a pailing fence which is north facing. Top Soil is reasonable with clay base.
    Is there a native fertiliser that will help flowering?

    1. Kath Gadd

      Hi Paul,

      How old are your plants? How many hours of direct sun do they get? Leptospermums don’t usually require regular fertilising.

      All the best,

  8. Jodii

    Hi Kath,

    How many years can I expect Starry Night trees to live?
    They will be planted in Mittagong/Southern Highlands NSW.

    Kindest regards,

    1. Kath Gadd

      Hi Jodii,

      Sorry for the delayed reply! Most tea trees are long-lived, surviving at least several decades if established well.

      All the best,

  9. Aubrey

    I too have a starry night, planted in 2020. Facing north, in full son. It is probably 1 1/2 m, looks very healthy but hasn’t flowered at all, and now, the middle of October no buds at all. I’m very curious, thanks!

    1. Kath Gadd

      Hi Aubrey,

      That is a little surprising if the plant is looking healthy and it’s got good sun. You may just have to wait another year or so for it. Tea tree are long lived and it will want to flower at some point. If it’s not budding yet there’s still time and it may still put on a show this year for you.

      Fingers crossed,

  10. Helen

    Hello! Thanks for this post. I have a starry night which is very weepy and taking a lot of space laterally. I’m wondering if I can stake it to help train it a little more vertically? Any tips/ tricks welcomed!


    1. Kath Gadd

      Hi Helen,

      If it’s still young you should be able to give it a good prune after flowering to encourage the shape you want. Starry night does likes to spread a little, if you’ve got lots of lateral woody growth on an older plant it might be a bit hard train the shape now.

      Good luck!

  11. Jennifer Jones

    I have a full hedge on 2 fence lines of starry night. I noticed eaten bare ends so sprayed it with diluted white oil, with some success. Underneath the hedge where there’s no sunlight between fence is brown and just sticks. 1ST question Do I cut this off or leave it be. ? 2nd question how much should I trim the width back and how often, ? can I mulch underneath with trimmings?

    1. Kath Gadd

      Hi Jennifer,

      You can prune off the woody undergrowth if you’re going for more of a tree habit rather than a hedge, it should not make much different to the insect attack if they’re not targeting that area. It might be easier to answer your question if you send some photos ( Yes, using the trimmings for mulch is a great idea will help support soil health under the tea tress.

      All the best,

  12. Lucy

    About to plant starry night to create cover at my front fence. What compliments them ie small plants below / ground cover ?
    NNSW thank you

  13. Sharon

    I trimmed my starry nights back (maybe too much) used metho to get rid of grubs with success; had new growth but now all the new growth is dead. I’m at a loss. Is it the change in weather patterns? Can you please give me your advice.
    Thank you

    1. Kath Gadd

      Hi Sharon,
      I would need more information to help you.
      What grubs were on the plant? Where did you apply the metho to the plant? Was it a hot sunny day when you applied the metho?
      Best Wishes,

  14. Graham Jones

    Is the starry night invasive to service utilities such as water and sewage lines.

  15. Maureen

    My Starry Night was beautiful, plenty of buds. Kept it pruned and 4 years old. It snapped at the base and fell over. Any idea what would cause this? Thanks in advance for some help.

    1. Kath Gadd

      Hi Maureen, They are such a beautiful plant.
      There are a few reasons this can happen. If you have an inspection of the snap point it might give you some clues. It may be due to Borer that were weakening the trunk, it could also be fungal root rot.
      Hope this helps.

  16. Bryan James

    I have 4 bushes and one did not flower but looks healthy. Any ideas?
    Bryan J

    1. Kath Gadd

      Hi Bryan,
      How long have the plants been in the ground? Are they all getting the same amount of sunlight?

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