The exploding Leptospermum ‘Starry Night’

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 😉

16 replies on “The exploding Leptospermum ‘Starry Night’”

  1. Jenny on


    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

    • Kath Gadd on

      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 on

    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?

    • Kath Gadd on

      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!


    • Kath Gadd on

      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,

  3. Gina on

    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

    • Kath Gadd on

      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,


  4. Joanna on

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

    • Kath Gadd on

      Hi Joanna,

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

      Best Wishes,


  5. Liz on

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

    Thank you,

    • Kath Gadd on

      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,

  6. Paul De Stefanis on

    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?

    • Kath Gadd on

      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,

  7. Jodii on

    Hi Kath,

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

    Kindest regards,

    • Kath Gadd on

      Hi Jodii,

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

      All the best,

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