4 min read | by Ben Walcott, Updated April 19, 2019
Melaleuca lateritia or robin red-breast bush is an excellent, adaptable garden plant from southwest Western Australia. It grows naturally in sandy swampy soils but is very adaptable to heavier soils and seems impervious to frosts. It can be a large bush up to 2.0 m high and 2.5 m in diameter but responds well to pruning. In fact, in our garden it eventually (5 years or so) gets leggy and infected with sooty mould so that we cut it to the ground leaving 10 cm stumps. It regrows a whole new dense plant and within a year or so will be flowering. It produces bright red-orange flowers in Canberra from about Christmas time until frost. It blooms profusely in spring tapering off over summer and then producing more flowers in autumn. It will grow in full sun or partial shade. In our garden, they are growing under a rather dense canopy of deciduous trees and seem to be doing well. They do like water which we give them regularly over the summer months.