How to Grow Melia — Chinaberry

Melia flowers
Blooms of Melia azedarach --Chinaberry tree

Melia—commonly called Chinaberry—is a medium-sized deciduous tree that grows best in warm-winter regions. It is often grown as a shade tree in poor conditions; Melia is a tough tree that tolerates heat, wind, poor alkaline soil, and drought.

Melia bears interesting star-shaped flowers in spring. Each flower has 5 or 6 spreading petals and 10 to 12 stamens. The flowers are followed by bead-like spherical berries—that are poisonous.

Melia is not hardy. In cold-winter regions, it can be grown as a greenhouse plant. In a large container, it will grow 6 to 10 feet (2-3m) tall.

Melia wood is brittle and outdoors the plant can suffer damage in a big wind or storm.

Yellow fruit of a Melia azedarach
Yellow fruit of a Melia azedarach

Get to Know Melia — Chinaberry

  • Plant type: Deciduous tree
  • Growing zones and range: Zones 10 to 12
  • Hardiness: Does not tolerate cold
  • Height and width: 30 to 50 feet (9-15m) tall, spreading irregular habit
  • Foliage: Leaves 1 to 3 feet long divided into many toothed, narrow, or oval leaves 1 to 2 inches (2.5-5cm) long
  • Flowers: Loose clusters of lilac flowers, fragrant in the evening
  • Bloom time: Spring or early summer
  • Uses: Specimen, lawn tree, shade tree; in cold winter regions greenhouse plant
  • Common name: Chinaberry
  • Botanical name: Melia azedarach
  • Family name: Meliaceae
  • Origin: From India to China

Where to Plant Melia — Chinaberry

  • Plant Melia in full sun.
  • Grow Chinaberry in humus-rich, well-drained soil. Chinaberry will grow in average soil and can tolerate alkaline soil.
  • Do not plant Chinaberry where there is a prevailing wind; the wood is brittle and branches can suffer storm damage.
Melia azedarach or Chinaberry tree
Melia azedarach or Chinaberry tree

When to Plant Melia — Chinaberry

  • Set container-grown Chinaberry in the garden in spring or autumn.

Planting and Spacing Melia — Chinaberry

  • Space Chinaberry 15 to 25 feet (5-8m).

How to Water and Feed Melia — Chinaberry Water

  • Keep the soil evenly moist.
  • Fertilize Chinaberry in spring with an all-purpose, organic fertilizer.

Melia — Chinaberry Care

  • Where Chinaberry is not hardy grow it in a greenhouse in full light.

Melia — Chinaberry Pests and Diseases

  • Canker, dieback, anthracnose, powdery mildew, mushroom root rot, spider mites, and scale insects can attack Melia,
Melia azedarach
Melia azedarach

Melia — Chinaberry Propagation

  • Sow seed at 55° to 64°F (13-18°C) in spring.
  • Root softwood cutting with bottom heat in summer.

Melia — Chinaberry Varieties to Grow

  • Melia azedarach, Chinaberry: Deciduous tree grows 30 to 50 feet (9-15m) tall with an irregular spreading habit; leaves 1 to 3 feet long cut into narrow or oval leaflets 1-2 inches long; bears loose clusters of night fragrant lilac flowers in spring and early summer; berry-like yellow fruits follow flowers—fruits are poisonous.
  • M.a. umbraculiformis, Texas umbrella tree: Grows to 30 feet tall with dense spreading dome-shaped crown and drooping leaves.

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