Growing Bottlebrush Trees

Callistemon spp

Care for and maintenance of bottlebrush trees. Callistemon viminalis, citrinus, and rigidus. Dwarf and weeping bottlebrush photos. Callistemon citrinus 'Little John'.

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Red bottlebrush tree flowrs. The unusual flowers of Callistemons are made up of a spike of small blooms with very long stamens.

This collection of stamens is the only thing you see and what causes the bloom spike to look like a bottle brush.

The flowers appear at the tips of the trees’ drooping stems. They are usually red but may be yellow, purple or green.

The stems continue growing once the blooms fade to prepare for next year’s show. Once the showy blossoms go over, they are replaced by woody seed capsules.

The 2-4 inch long evergreen leaves of the bottlebrush tree are dark green, narrow and leathery. The tree’s are tender and dislike wind. They are often multi-trunked.

Callistemon viminalis Tree

Weeping bottlebrush tree with several trunks.

This weeping bottlebrush has been trimmed so that people may walk beneath it.

This is the weeping bottlebrush tree. It grows to a height of 20 feet with an equal spread. Its pendant growth habit makes it attractive even when it isn’t blooming. The drooping branches sway gracefully whenever there is a breeze.

This variety is commonly seen in Central Florida and is my favorite of the bottlebrushes. It is hardy from zone 9-11 and will tolerate short periods of drought once it has become established.

Callistemon citrinus or lanceolatus

The lemon bottlebrush tree. The name is a reference, not to the flower color which is bright red, but to the scent of the crushed leaves. Callistemon citrinus will ultimately reach a height of 12 feet and will spread to 9 feet. It blooms most profusely in the spring and flowers sporadically throughout the summer.

The red blooms are attractive to humming birds and, unfortunately, sometimes squirrels.

A more hardy Callistemon than viminalis it can be grown from zone 8b-10 but may die to the ground when planted in the coldest part of this range. Mulch the roots and it should return in the spring.

Callistemon citrinus 'Little John'

Dwarf bottlebrush tree <i>Callistemon citrinus</i> 'Little John'

Callistemon Little John is a dwarf bottlebrush tree.

It is a slow grower to about 3 feet tall and wide.

It is hardy in zones 8-11. Dwarf Callistemon is one of the best bottlebrushes to plant in a pot.

Here is a close shot of its cute little blossom:

Bottlebrush tree flower, 'Little John'.

It also differs from the other Callistemon varieties on this page by virtue of its blue-green foliage.

Callistemon rigidus

<i>Callistemon rigidus<i> photo.

An erect growing Callistemon bottlebrush with red blooms and sharp tipped leaves. It will grow to 15 feet tall and 10 feet wide. It is extremely drought tolerant and moderately salt tolerant. Callistemon rigidus shrubs are hardy from zone 9-11.

How to Care for Bottlebrush

Callistemon citrinus 'Little John' bonsai tree.

Buy a Callistemon citrinus 'Little John' Bonsai Tree HERE

Propagation Tips:

You can propagate these trees by planting their seeds or taking 4 inch heel cuttings.

Sow the seed on top of the soil. Seedling trees will bloom in 5 years or less.

Callistemon cuttings root faster if bottom heat is provided.

Plant the trees in fast draining soil in good light. The species hails from Australia and can take full sun to part shade. Bottlebrush tree care requires moist soil during the summer months, much drier in winter.

If your tree is growing inside a greenhouse, provide good ventilation on mild winter days.

You can grow Callistemon bottlebrush unpruned as a screen or informal hedge. However, the form of Callistemon viminalis weeping bottlebrush is best appreciated when it is limbed up into a tree.

Bottlebrush shrubs make good tub plants but be careful of placing one next to a pool as the flowers will drop into the water.

Other Ornamental Trees:

Crepe Myrtle Can be Grown as a Bush, a Plant or a Tree

Flowering Yellow Elder: the Darling of the U.S. Virgin Islands

Pony Tail Palm Tree: a Caudiciform with Character

The Architectural Aloe Tree

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