BOTTLEBRUSH

FAMILY: Myrtaceae | GENUS: CALLISTEMON

TYPE
  • Evergreen
  • Shrubs
  • Trees
SUN EXPOSURE
  • Full Sun
WATER
  • Regular Water
  • Moderate Water

Plant Details

Fast-growing plants with colorful flowers carried in dense spikes or round clusters that consist mainly of long, bristlelike stamenshence the common name bottlebrush. Attractive to hummingbirds. Flowers are followed by woody capsules that can last for years and may resemble rows of beads pressed into bark.

Some bottlebrushes are naturally dense and compact (making good informal hedges); others are sparse and open (can be pruned up to become small trees). Those with pliant branches can be grown as informal espaliers. Very little routine pruning is neededjust remove any weak or dead branches after bloom or before spring growth. Don't cut into bare wood beyond leaves; if you do, plant may not send out new growth. Generally found in moist ground in their native Australia, bottlebrushes can withstand waterlogged soil. Normally tolerant of saline or alkaline soils but sometimes suffer from chlorosis (yellow leaves with green veins). Often severely damaged at 20F.

lemon bottlebrush

callistemon citrinus

  • Shrub or tree.
  • Zones LS, CS, TS; USDA 8-11.
  • Most commonly grown bottlebrush; most tolerant of heat, cold, and poor soils.
  • Massive shrub to 1015 feet tall and wide, but with staking and pruning in youth easily trained into narrowish, round-headed, 20- to 25 feet tree.
  • Nurseries offer it as a shrub, espalier, or tree.
  • Narrow, 3 inches-long leaves are coppery when new, maturing to vivid green.
  • Bruised leaves smell lemony.
  • Bright red, 6 inches-long brushes appear in waves throughout the year.

Variable plant when grown from seed; look for cutting-grown selections with good flower size and color, such as 'Splendens'. Compared to the species, 'Violaceus' ('Jeffersii'), about 6 feet tall and 4 feet wide, has stiffer branches; narrower, shorter leaves; and reddish purple flowers fading to lavender. 'Mauve Mist' is the same but can reach 10 feet.

stiff bottlebrush

callistemon 'Perth Pink

  • Shrub.
  • Zones CS, TS; USDA 9-11.
  • Dense, full growth to 610 feet tall and wide, with weeping branches and deep pink flowers to 6 inches long in spring and early summer.
  • New growth is pink.

callistemon rigidus

  • Rigid, sparse shrub or small tree to 20 feet with 10 feet spread.
  • Zones LS, CS, TS; USDA 8-11.
  • Sharp-pointed, gray-green (sometimes purplish) leaves to 6 inches long.
  • Spring and summer red flower brushes are 212412 inches long.
  • Produces prominent seed capsules.
  • Least graceful of the bottlebrushes.
  • Clemson Hardy is a compact form (23 feet tall and wide) with bright red flowers; it succeeds in Zones US, MS, LS, CS, TS and has withstood 8F.
  • Bred in Georgia, 'Scarlet Torch' has a compact form, growing 9 feet tall and 12 feet wide.

white bottlebrush

callistemon salignus

  • Shrub or tree to 2025 feet tall, 1015 feet wide.
  • Zones TS; USDA 10-11.
  • Dense crown of foliage.
  • Bright pink to copper new growth.
  • Willowlike leaves 23 inches long.
  • Pale yellow to cream- colored flowers appear in 112- to 3 inches clusters in spring, early summer.
  • Train as small shade tree or plant 45 feet apart as hedge.

alpine bottlebrush

callistemon sieberi

  • Zones MS, LS, CS, TS; USDA 7-11.
  • Shrub.
  • To 36 feet tall and wide, with a somewhat upright habit.
  • Small (to 112 inches-long), dark green leaves densely cover the branches.
  • Cream to yellow flowers in 112- to 6 inches-long brushes bloom from late spring to midsummer.

weeping bottlebrush

callistemon viminalis

  • Shrub or small tree with pendulous branches.
  • Zones CS, TS; USDA 9-11.
  • Fast growing to 2030 feet tall, with 15 feet spread.
  • Narrow, light green, 6 inches-long leaves.
  • Bright red, 4- to 8 inches-long brushes from late spring into summer; scattered bloom rest of year.
  • Not for windy, dry areas.
  • As a tree, needs staking, thinning to prevent tangled, top-heavy growth.
  • Leaves tend to grow toward ends of long, hanging branches.

Little John

  • is a superior dwarf form to 3 feet tall and wide, with dense growth and blood-red flowers in fall, winter, and spring.
  • Captain Cook is dense, rounded, to 6 feet tall and wide; good for border, hedge, or screen.
  • 'McCaskillii' has denser habit than others, is more vigorous (to 20ft.
  • tall), and has better flower color and form.

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