Melicytus - Growing Guide

Growing Melicytus

(syn. Hymananthera)

This is a new and relatively unknown genus in the UK which we are now propagating in the nursery and hope to have a few different species available for sale in small numbers before too long.

The species of Melicytus which we grow at Caerhays are perfectly frost hardy (with us) and are evergreen shrubs from New Zealand. M. crassifolius is perhaps the only species which is sometimes seen in UK gardens but M. obovatus, a genuine rarity, has grown well at Caerhays for 20 to 25 years. We are now growing three other species of Melicytus.

These plants require full sun in a hot dry location to flower and berry properly. 

M. obovatus grows as a multi stemmed and erect woody shrub to around 10-12ft in height. Its bluish-green leaves are small and oblong and very fragrant when crushed. The flowers are numerous but absolutely tiny and appear from the woody stem in profusion. They form tiny flat trumpets with a purple rim and a greenish white base. When you look hard for them in April and May you can be amazed at how prolifically this species flowers although, from a distance, you see nothing. This species has many male and fewer female flowers. The latter quickly develop into large rounded berries which turn white when ripe. The berries are far more obvious than the flowers.

M. crassifolius is a more densely branched, twiggy and, often, slightly spiny shrub growing to only about 4ft in height with a similar spread. Its leaves are small, pointed, leathery and dark green. Once established this species produces, in March and April, masses of tiny yellow flowers from its stems. The flowers are followed by rounded purple berries. This species (and several others) were exhibited by Tregrehan Garden at the 2019 Cornwall Garden Society spring show to widespread amazement as so few people had ever seen representative species from this genus before.


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Melicytus spotlight - Video Tip



0:00 - Melicytus obovatus
4:06 - Melicytus crassifolius


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