Callistemon Bottlebrush

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Callistemon Bottlebrush

Post by piechnik99 » Sat May 25, 2013 10:42 pm


I need some advice on growing tips on the above plant.

I have a large (but spindly) shrub (bought off ebay) xmas 2011, growing in a large pot kept in a greenhouse over winter.

The plant is growing in compost (mulched a week or so ago) and topped of with bark chips. The main issues are that (i) the bottelbrush didnt flower this or last spring/summer - tips gratefully received! and (ii) on each stem (about 2ft long) , the bottom half has lost its leaves - does anyone have an idea if these will grow back? I suspect my main issue is underwatering, but not sure.

Also any general tips on looking after them (watering, feed, etc?)

I have enclosed a few pics of the bare stems, thanks in advance!


Re: Callistemon Bottlebrush

Post by Westport007 » Tue May 28, 2013 10:54 am


Callistemon's have a natural habit of having bare stems a the base,so there is nothing wrong with the shrub itself.As regards watering and feeding-callistemons come from australia so they are quite tolerant of very dry conditions,naturally native to dry scrubland with little nutrients and don't require much feeding,even though watering and feeding will help the genaral apperance of the plant and flowers.I don't know how old your plant is but callistemons flower quite easily when young,here in the west of ireland they do well and over winter outdoors no problem hardy to about -5c.They like the sun also so put it in a sunny spot in the summer.

Regards martin. icon_salut


Re: Callistemon Bottlebrush

Post by Clive60 » Wed May 29, 2013 9:03 pm

It would be best planted in the ground, it is the common red variety Callistemon Linearis/Subalatus/Rigidus and one of the hardiest.

Half Hardy

Re: Callistemon Bottlebrush

Post by Half Hardy » Thu May 30, 2013 2:27 pm

I grew some from seed a few years ago,the ones planted in the ground early,have massively outgrown the ones left in pots.
I prune them quite severly,to stop them getting too lanky.I have read that some, seed grown,instead of cutting propagated shrubs,take a bit longer to start flowering.As has already been said it is quite normal for them to lose their lower leaves.My ones have proved themselves reliably hardy,but I would guess they are more likely to flower if they are started off in a greenhouse.Best of luck with yours icon_thumleft
Edit.... I have just noticed,that you are new to the forum,so,welcome aboard icon_cheers


Re: Callistemon Bottlebrush

Post by Clive60 » Thu May 30, 2013 7:19 pm

The ones I've grown from cuttings do flower a year or more earlier than seed sown. I 've always kept both of them in a greenhouse for the first 18 months.


Re: Callistemon Bottlebrush

Post by piechnik99 » Thu May 30, 2013 10:50 pm

Thanks for the tips - As a way of comparing I have planted a small bottlebrush in my front garden (on a slight mound due to clay soil which has loads of compost/grit added) and it appears to be flurishing in the ground (no signs of flowers).

The acid test would be winter as it can get pretty cold in my garden (although my gunnera tinctoria survived under a bed of straw in similar heavy soil) so there might be hope yet.

Its good to get some advice from people in the know! icon_salut

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Callistemon Bottlebrush

Post by Orites » Sat Oct 19, 2019 3:55 pm


New to this forum and just picked up on your post. I live in Shropshire, not too far from you, and grow 26 species/varieties of Callistemon (six in the ground and the rest in pots) so might be able to help.

I would agree that your bottlebrush appears to be either subulatus or rigidus, most probably the later (the foliage is longer and more widely spaced). As such it will flower and grow quite happily outside; mine does. It may get cut down to the ground in a really hard winter like 2010, but bottlebrushes have an amazing capacity to reprsout. This also answers your question about cutting it back - yes, it will throw up fresh shoots, even if cut back to a 6" stump, however, the new growth is unlikely to flower in the first year. Looking at the terminal buds that will now be present, you should be able to notice any slightly fatter ones that will be next season's flowers? They tend to keep their foliage for 2 to 3 years, then it turns red and drops, so, bare stems in a mature plant are the norm.

Contrary to some of the views expressed, bottlebrushes are not particulalry drought tolerant and will readily wilt in pots if not watered daily in hot weather. They also benefit from a little fertiliser during the growing period. I use slow-release prills sprinkled on the surface of the pots, which gets washed down each time I water. I suspect that under-watering and lack of feeding are both contributing to your poor flowering success.

WIth your plant, if you haven't yet cut it back, don't, it is too late. Leave it until the spring, feed as the buds start to expand, and see what comes. If little or nothing - cut back by half, keep feeding and watering, then plant out in a sunny spot when new shoots are developed. It should flower well in the following June/July 2021.

Hope this helps.

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Callistemon Bottlebrush

Post by rufc15lizzie » Mon Oct 21, 2019 12:55 pm

I have callistemon rigidus, bought as an small shrub from forum member, and was planted in a raised bed several years ago.
It too, did not flower for the first two summers it was planted. However since then it has flowered annually.
Yes they do tend to grow leggy and the bottom of the stems have no leaves.
What works for me is straight after it is has finished flowering I cut it back very harshly, to try and keep it bushier and not leggy. It flowers happily with numerous flowers every year.

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Callistemon Bottlebrush

Post by GREVILLEAJ » Mon Oct 21, 2019 8:30 pm

You're right about their need for water. I grew tender C.'Captain Cook' in a tub and it became a beauty but once the roots filled the tub.I had the devil of a job trying to meet its watering needs even with a retaining dish and it was often wilting and the flower power was somewhat reduced. I'm sure it was best served with rainwater but I had so many containerised plants with the same needs that the water butts were often empty.

In the end I planted it out in what I thought was a very sheltered spot for its winter survival bur wouldn't you know it it's first winter was the 2010 Narnia and of course I lost it!

I keep just a hardy C. subulatus in the ground which is now nearly thirty years old and the flowers are magnificent every year.

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Callistemon Bottlebrush

Post by Dave Brown » Sat Oct 26, 2019 9:30 am

I had a big Bottlebrush, which was planted out, but lost it in the hosepipe ban years 2004/5.
Best regards
Roll on summer.....

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