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Bottle Brush Plant (Callistemon spp.) This a versatile plant that will produce dark red bottle brush-like blooms during the spring and into early summer. It is a drought-tolerant plant once it becomes established usually after its third season in the ground. In colder regions, it will lose its foliage but will bounce back nicely once the weather heats up again. In warmer climates, it is an evergreen.
A slow grower but will respond quickly if watered more often. If you live in a region where below-freezing temperatures are common the leaves will tend to turn brown or a whitish color…sort of like what Oleanders do. Temperatures that are consistently below 15° degrees Fahrenheit during the winter seasons are not recommended for the Bottlebrush Plant.
There are many species of this plant the one pictured here is the Lemon Bottlebrush. Can be grown as a large shrub and if trimmed correctly can become a small tree. Place it in a desert landscape scene or in more traditional landscapes.
The leaves will give off a citrus smell when crushed up. The flower itself has no scent.
Trimming the bottom springs and stems and it can become a small to medium-sized tree, especially in places where it rarely freezes. See photo above.
Little John Dwarf Bottlebrush
Red bottlebrush-like flowering spikes cover this dwarf evergreen shrub. It will also bloom from mid-spring until early summer. In warmer climates, it will bloom off and on throughout the year. The foliage has thick blue-green leaves that produce a citrus scent when crushed. Height size is about 3-4 ft. tall and 5 ft. wide.
USDA Hardiness Zone: 8 – 11
Where to place this plant?
Plant it in full sun or in Xeriscape gardens as it is considered a water-wise plant. Fertilize once in spring, summer and one more time during the fall season.
Problems with the Bottlebrush plant
These plants in the southwest are hardy but they are susceptible to twig gall and powdery mildew. Both problems can be avoided by planting them in full sun and avoiding overspray from sprinkler watering systems. Be sure your soil drains well.
Powdery mildew can be removed by spraying with a good fungicide at the first signs of any fungus. Twig fall can be removed by trimming the infected twigs with pruning shears. Yes, your Bottlebrush may look a little bare but it will regrow new stems and foliage. Make sure to clean all pruning tools before re-using your tools on other plants.
Paul Guzman – Husband, Father, Grandfather, Gardener, and Webmaster of GuzmansGreenhouse.com