Bottle Brush – Callistemon
As a frost tolerant and woody plant, bottlebrushes are attractive options for home gardeners. Since they also tolerate drought and damp conditions well, they are showcased throughout landscaped lawns and gardens all over the world. The flower spikes are colorful and full of texture, and the leaves of some bottlebrush varieties are ornamental as well. Since the average lifespan for bottlebrushes is twenty to forty years, they promise beauty and blooms for many years. Although the woody shrub is low maintenance, proper care can help to ensure it continues blooming to its fullest each year.
Bottlebrush plants (Callistemon spp.) get their name from the spikes of flowers that bloom at the ends of the stems, bearing a strong resemblance to a bottle brush. Grow them as shrubs or small trees that grow up to 15 feet. Most bottlebrush varieties bloom over a long summer season in shades of red or crimson. One exception is C. sieberi, which has light yellow flower spikes.
Bottlebrush plants need a very mild climate. If you live in an area cooler than the U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 8b through 11, grow bottlebrush in pots that you can move to a protected area for winter. Use a rich, peaty potting soil with a few handfuls of sand added to improve the drainage. If pruned hard every year, the plants will grow in pots as small as 6 to 8 inches in diameter. If you plan to let the shrub grow, you’ll need a large tub.
Planting and care
Outdoors, plant bottlebrush shrubs in a sunny location. The plants arenâ€™t picky about the soil type as long as it is well-drained. If the soil is very poor, enrich with compost at planting time. Once established, bottlebrush plants tolerate drought and moderate salt spray.
Sunlight: Full sun to part shade
Soil: Well-drained soil
Water: Dry to medium
Temperature: 9 degrees C
Fertilizer: Apply any organic fertilizer