Tea tree is the common name for Camellia sinensis. Native to China, this plant has been used to produce tea since 2700 B.C. Tea tree is a relative of the garden camellia, and will grow in many parts of Texas, particularly the eastern regions. Choosing the right location for a tea tree in a Texas yard can be tricky. Shelter from prevailing winds that can damage leaves and distort them, and avoiding leaf scorch from too much sun are key factors to consider. Keep in mind that tea trees grow very slowly when nighttime temperatures dip below 55 degrees F.
Things You'll Need
- Organic compost
- Pruning shears
Plant tea trees in Texas in October. Choose a location that gets partial shade and good shelter from winds and hot summer sun. The north- and east-facing sides of buildings make an excellent site for morning sun and afternoon shade.
Dig a hole as deep as the tea tree's root ball and twice as wide with a shovel. If your soil is clay-based, amend it with equal parts peat, sand and organic compost for a deep, rich, well-drained mix. Set the tea tree in the hole and backfill, pressing soil firmly around roots to close air spaces. Water deeply after planting and every other day for the next three weeks to help the tea tree overcome transplant shock.
Mulch in late spring with 3 to 5 inches of bark mulch in a 3-foot ring, 8 inches from the tree's trunk. Mulch will suppress weeds, hold moisture and regulate soil temperature during Texas summers. Rake out and replace mulch annually, and do not allow it to pile up against the trunk.
Water tea trees deeply once a week during hot, dry weather. Fertilize tea trees once in the early spring and again in midsummer. Be careful to follow instructions on the packaging to get the right proportions for the size and age of the tree.
Prune tea trees after they bloom in spring, clipping away dead, wilted or storm-damaged limbs with pruning shears. If you desire a bushier, lower-growing tea tree, cut it back to 4 feet when it reaches a height of 6 feet or more, and it will fill out horizontally.
Tips & Warnings
- Plant tea trees at least 10 feet from buildings and other plantings to ensure adequate growing space.
- Look out for tea scale, a tiny, whitish, winged insect that infests the undersides of leaves. Spray with Neem oil, following label instructions carefully to avoid overuse.
- Photo Credit texas map image by Vladislav Gajic from Fotolia.com