Bottle Brush Tree

Bottle Brush Tree: Can You Grow It In Your Own Yard?

Bottle brush tree (Callistemon spp.) has bush-like, cylindrical flowers that resemble a typical bottle brush. The plant belongs to the Callistemon species and is commonly found in Australia’s more temperate regions, particularly on the east coast. Bottle brush trees favor moist conditions.

As such, regular watering makes them grow well in gardens. Many growers use some species in ornamental landscaping while other species are drought resistant. Bottle brush tree is famous for its red, firework-like blooms and cascading branches. The bottle brush tree’s bristle-like, cylindrical red flowers appear in the summer and spring as a fast-growing tree.

However, these blooms also appear in the fall occasionally. The flowers can attract butterflies, bees, or hummingbirds since they boast prominent, showy stamens. It has gray-green, shaggy bark covering its branches with gray-green, narrow evergreen leaves. 

How to Identify Bottle Brush Tree

You will know exactly where the bottle brush tree gets its name with one look at the plant; the blooming flower spikes at their stems’ ends that typically look like a bottle brush. Most bottle brush tree varieties produce crimson or red blooms all summer long, whether as small trees with about 15 feet tall or in shrub-form.

These dynamics make bottle brush trees a vibrant addition to the landscape. A very mild climate is suitable for bottle brush trees, and peaty, rich soil with good drainage is perfect for new plants. Growers may expect smaller plant yields each year with aggressive pruning, and delicate, careful pruning will encourage bottle brush trees to grow larger.

How bottle brush flowers grow cylindrical like a brush gives off the plant to be called bottle brush tree. Typically, these delicate flowers are white, orange, pink, or red and appear nearly fluffy. In addition, bottle brush trees have narrow leaves and dark to light green color. These leaves give the plant an even more attractive appearance with their clumps growth.

These trees can grow to become relatively large to about 15 feet tall, with a cluster of flowers about 12 inches long. However, bottle brush trees are pretty hardy, and you can prune them down a bit to grow them in containers.

Several plant experts have cultivated bottle brush trees within and outside Australia, even though you can find them mainly in Australia’s more temperate regions. These trees thrive well in hardiness zones eight through eleven in the US, though growers can grow them in containers since they are perfect for greenhouses.

Some of the bottle brush trees’ types are:

  • Needle bottle brush (Callistemon teretifolius)
  • Wallum bottle brush (Melaleuca pachyphylla)
  • Cliff bottle brush (Callistemon comboynensis)’
  • Alpine bottle brush (Melaleuca pityoides)
  • Lemon bottle brush (Callistemon pallidus)
  • Albany bottle brush (Callistemon speciosus)
  • Stiff bottle brush (Callistemon rigidus)
  • Creek bottle brush, weeping bottle brush (Callistemon viminalis, Melaleuca viminalis)
  • Crimson bottle brush (Melaleuca citrine)

Where Does Bottle Brush Tree Grow?

Bottle Brush Tree

You can find plant experts or growers planting bottle brush trees in Australia’s temperate south or tropical north, and they use wet conditions to grow them, including prone-to-flood areas or along creek beds. However, bottle brush trees can thrive well anywhere outside Australia with tropical and hot climates. As they grow well in pots, these trees also make striking greenhouses or conservatory plants.

When grown in some parts of Europe, bottle brush trees will grow well in certain regions. However, they are not hardy outdoor plants in all parts of the country. They will grow well in some coastal areas of the US and urban gardens’ sheltered spots.

Suppose you want to plant bottle brush trees outdoors. In that case, they are more tolerant with mixed borders, especially when connected with other Australian or Mediterranean plants with drought-tolerant foliage, including rosemary, hebe, or salvia.

Essentially, your bottle brush trees will also be more comfortable with other flamboyant tropical varieties like Chinese rice paper plants, palms, or yucca. However, bottle brush trees may not have cottage-style planting as a great companion.

Bottle brush trees require a sheltered, sunny position away from cold winds. With that, the perfect border is a southwest or south-facing wall, including conservatories, patios, city gardens, or courtyard gardens. You can also expect healthy growth with the smaller varieties.

Uses of Bottle Brush Tree

Many people use bottle brush trees for many things, and when it comes to traditional uses, one of the primary uses of bottle brush trees is the plants’ essential oil that people use to harmonize a house or room to bring tranquil healing vibrations.

Also, Australian indigenous people use trees as a natural energy drink. The Jamaicans also use the plant to treat skin infections, diarrhea, or gastroenteritis as a hot tea treatment.

People also use it for bed-wetting in children and urinary incontinence. In addition, women use bottle brush trees for excessive menstruation to cleanse the genitourinary tract. Many people also use bottle brush as a diuretic or to relieve urinary tract issues.

Other uses include:

  • Using it for fuel
  • They use the wood for tool handles since their woods are rugged, heavy, hard, and close-grained
  • People obtain a tan dye from the flowers without any requirement of a mordant
  • They also use the shrub as a foundation plant around parking lots, in borders, and on water pool sides for landscaping purposes

How to Grow Bottle Brush Tree from Seed

Bottle Brush Tree

You can grow your bottle brush tree outdoors in a sunny spot. These trees are not picky regarding the soil type as long as it is well-drained. You can use compost to improve the soil at planting time if it is poor. Bottle brush trees can tolerate moderate or salty drought spray when they are established.

When you want to grow bottle brush trees in a garden, ensure to:

  • Prepare a spot in your garden that gets half shade or full sun. You can use soil lifter fertilizers for better preparation of the planting space.
  • Have double the planting hole when digging, and they have the same depth as the root-ball. Bring out your bottle brush trees from the pot and tease the roots gently.
  • Backfill the soil after you must have positioned it in the hole and firm down gently. Then, prepare a doughnut or raised-shaped soil ring around the plant’s root zone’s outer edge. You will be able to keep the water where you need it by doing so. Watering adequately will keep the soil moist for many weeks while the new plant establishes and settles the soil around the roots.
  • Use organic mulch like woodchip or sugarcane to mulch around the base, keeping it away from the trunk.
  • Fertilize your bottle brush trees in spring and autumn to promote plenty of beautiful flowers, healthy foliage growth, and strong root development.

If you plan to grow your bottle brush trees in a container, we recommend using the dwarf varieties and cultivars. You can get started with it by:

  • Choosing about 400mm container and put it in a garden with half shade or full sun.
  • Use the quality potting mix to fill the pot.
  • Take the bottle brush tree from the container, tease its roots gently, and eliminate the tangled or circled roots.
  • Put your bottle brush in the hole and backfill it with potting mix, firming down the plant gently. Remember to water it adequately.
  • An organic mulch like woodchip or sugarcane is perfect for mulching around the base and ensuring it is near the trunk.
  • Spring and autumn months are ideal for fertilizing the plant for beautiful flowers, healthy foliage development, or robust root growth.

Bottle Brush Tree Growing Conditions

Bottle brush trees can tolerate light frost, damp spots, dry conditions, partial shade, or full sun and are low maintenance, depending on the species or varieties. These trees can also thrive well in heavy clay soils or sandy soils. They are relatively versatile, and you only choose your preferred plant and plant in suitable spots.

However, not all bottle brush trees varieties or types are happy with really wet feet, even though they can tolerate damp soils. We encourage improving heavy clay soil drainage first and then raising your soil level by mounting the garden bed. Remember that bottle brush trees planted in shadier spaces will typically produce fewer flowers. We also recommend:

  • Pruning the bush a bit after flowering to help keep your bottle brush trees looking tidy and encourage more compact growth.
  • You can grow the tree as a screen or hedge and can withstand hard and regular pruning.
  • You can quickly propagate by cuttings.
  • Some bottle brush trees’ varieties can cause problems with water mains or sewage. The best approach is to plant them between four to six meters away from these services.

When to Plant Bottle Brush Tree

Bottle Brush Tree

You can plant bottle brush trees year-round in their preferred growing zones. However, we recommend feeding your plant with adequate water for the new roots. For instance, planting bottle brush trees is easier during the cooler spring, winter, or fall than feeding the plant enough water to moisten the soil during hot summers.

Water your bottle brush trees thoroughly to settle the soil after planting. You may also need to add water and soil again if the soil level drops after watering. We recommend watering consistently to keep your soil moist for the first year after planting. Then, if your plant gets plenty of water, they are more likely to establish deep root systems since they are native to damp locations.

Once your bottle brush trees are well-established, most varieties require minimal supplemental watering and are drought tolerant. Weeping bottle brush is an exception that needs plenty of water to the soil moist.

Fertilize your bottle brush trees with a low-phosphorus fertilizer to keep these plants growing. The middle number represents phosphorus regarding a fertilizer’s NPK ratio. Therefore, look for a low-number fertilizer in the middle.

For instance, look for a fertilizer with an NPK ratio of 12-4-8 and slow-releasing and scatter about one tablespoon per square foot of soil surface. Perform this exercise once in the fall, once in the spring, and twice a year.

How to Plant Bottle Brush Tree

  • Prepare your growing location with moist to dry, well-drained soil in full sun. Mildly alkaline to acidic is best suitable for bottle brush trees with 5.6 and 7.5 pH readings. Chlorophyll loos of yellowing, chlorotic foliage happens with plants on highly alkaline soil.
  • You can begin planting your trees when winter rains will help them establish a minimum of supplemental irrigation and no stress on the rooting plant by the cooler temperatures. Measure about five times the width of your bottle brush tree’s root ball and twice its base width when setting the tree in an inward-angled hole. Having approximately 1.4 to 1.2 inches of the root ball top protruding above its edge is ideal and will prompt making the hole deep enough for that.
  • It will be time to water your bottle brush trees when you notice that the top three to four inches of the soil are dry when you touch them or the trees’ foliage starts to wilt in its first planting season. In addition, you can also water your plant during extended dry periods when it has established its roots. Encouraging drought-resistant, deep roots is through deep, slow watering with a soaker hose or drip system.
  • Use an 8-8-8, slow-releasing fertilizer in summer and spring to feed the shrub. Ensure to adhere to the manufacturer’s recommendations when applying the fertilizer.
  • When you notice new growth emerging, ensure to prune your plant. However, do that before the plant sets flower buds or the tender tissue begins to harden. You will be keeping your bottle brush trees tidy when you prune to remove spent flowers. After all, providing extra fertilizer dose and cutting down all the branches can lead to vigorous growth after several years.
  • Check your trees for Dictyospermum scale infestation. This 1/16-inch, yellowish-brown barnacle-shaped pests can consume and colonize sap from the shrub’s foliage. You can use a heavy-duty water jet to blast the plants and remove the pest, even though they hardly cause enough damage to require treatment.
  • Constantly check your bottle brush tree’s shrub for yellow leaves, an iron deficiency indication. You can apply a rate of 0.8 to 1.6 ounces of iron chelate per 100 square feet to the soil to treat the problem. Three years down the line and the application will remain effective.

Bottle Brush Tree Water Requirements

Bottle Brush Tree

Provide your bottle brush trees with one to two gallons of water immediately after planting. With this, you can ensure to moisten the root’s surrounding soil.

Continue to water your tree once a week to maintain consistently moist soil in the absence of rain. You can reduce watering the plant during the cooler winter months since your bottle brush does not require as much irrigation and does not actively grow. Ensure that the top one inch of the soil is dry to the touch between watering sessions.

Bottle Brush Tree Sun Requirements

Bottle brush trees thrive best in well-draining sandy soil even though they can tolerate any garden soil type. You can add some fine sand when planting your plant to improve the soil’s drainage if the soil tends to hold water or contains clay. Bottle brush trees can tolerate drought pretty well when established in their site and require an average amount of water.

It can help to mulch your bottle brush trees and protect their roots from winter damage by mulching the plant using a two to three-inch-thick layer of organic mulch in areas with cool winter weather. When cold weather approaches, water your bottle brush trees well and prepare them for winter. This routine will help your plant survive without any ill effects.

Best Bottle Brush Tree Fertilizer

You can use about two inches of compost to fertilize your bottle brush trees for the first time in their second spring after planting. After that, your bottle brush trees can benefit from feeding them low-phosphorus fertilizer every month during warm months.

With that, you can expect your plant to grow many flowers throughout the season since it will get the necessary benefits for flower development from phosphorus-based fertilizer.

However, you may use the wrong fertilizer if your bottle brush trees struggle with blooming despite all the watering and care. You can promote blooming for your plant by using a general-purpose fertilizer or organic fertilizer such as manure or compost.

Granular fertilizer is best suitable for your bottle brush growing in the soil outside, and bottle brush trees growing in containers will thrive well with a liquid fertilizer. However, your plant can be prone to fertilizer burns causing leaf discoloration.

Essentially, we recommend using less than required or follow the instruction to use the amount indicated. Use the fertilizer at the start of fall, summer, or spring, and a 10-10-10 or 8-8-8 slow-releasing fertilizer will allow your bottle brush trees to steady flowering and growth. Continue to apply fertilizer once a year until your bottle brush trees are fully grown.

Bottle brush trees do not grow in cold months. Therefore, they don’t need the extra nutrients and avoid fertilizing your plants during those months.

Best Bottle Brush Tree Companion Plantings

Bottle Brush Tree


The ginger plant (Zingiber officinale) has striated, rough, knotty, and firm textures. Ginger pairs well with bottle brush trees because it can tolerate humid and warm temperatures. Many growers plant it for its spicy, savory, and aromatic rhizomes.

Copper Plant

Copper plant (acalypha wilkesiana) loves full sun and can survive in partially shaded and half sun areas, making it a perfect companion plant with bottle brush tree. It belongs to the Euphorbiaceae family thrives well in partially shaded or half sun areas.


The yellow flowers of thryallis (Galphimia glauca) blend well with the bottle brush tree, and it is a gorgeous and low-maintenance plant. Unfortunately, thryallies do not tolerate cold temperatures.

Bottle Brush Tree Diseases and Common Problems

Many growers cherish bottle brush trees for their evergreen foliage and bright flowers. However, a bottle brush tree is prone to pests and diseases, like any other garden plant. You can easily treat some of these diseases, and others can be severe diseases that are impossible or difficult to treat.

It is essential to know the symptoms and treatments for plant care and disease prevention. So, without further ado, here are some common pests and diseases for bottle brush trees.

Web Moth

Webbing caterpillars or web moths are the most dangerous pest for bottle brush trees. These pests will web young leaves together during an attack to form cocoons. Therefore, we recommend you immediately remove and dispose of any sawdust or cocoons on your plant’s leaves or branches. We also encourage using carbaryl insecticide as it is effective against webbing caterpillar larvae.

Scale Insects

Scale insects can cause trails on your plant, and it is hard to identify them. You can remove them using pressurized water sprays or scrape the insects off the leaves. Use neem oil or other powerful sprays for massive infections.

Sawfly Larvae

Sawfly larvae can cause defoliation or leaves skeletonization. Again, use neem oil or another strong azadirachtin spray to remove these larvae. In addition, use diatomaceous earth to dust the plant.


Cankers also affect bottle brush trees’ growth as a fungal disease that spreads rapidly. Wet soil and improper fertilization are the two causes. As a result, the branches will have swollen areas as they become uneven, and the tree will become lifeless and disfigured. Again, fungicide sprays and proper fertilization can protect bottle brush trees from this deadly disease.

Leaf Spot

Leaf spot affects your bottle brush trees’ appearance and beauty. Overly wet or soggy soil causes this disease to spread. The prominent symptoms of spotting or leaf blotch are premature defoliation and spots on the leaves.

The spots increase in size with a yellowish border and brown spots. You can use a liquid copper fungicide to spray the tree or burn the infected leaves to prevent fungus from attacking again.

Apart from these pests and diseases, severe climatic conditions can also affect your bottle brush trees. Harsh winter conditions can cause leaf browning as they affect your plant. However, the plant can recover if the stems are not dead.

Keep the bottle brush trees warm in harsh cold weather by wrapping the plant with burlap or plastic. Prolonged dampness can cause diseases, and you can prevent this by ensuring proper air circulation underside or on the top of the plant.

Bottle Brush Tree Treatments and Maintenance

Bottle Brush Tree Treatments and Maintenance

Bottle brush trees are not the pickiest, even though they are sturdy plants that thrive in desertic environments. However, that does not mean that the plant is not a bit demanding. Your treatments and maintenance include environment and temperature since the bottle brush tree is a plant for relatively hot climates as it can grow well in slightly desertic regions.

Bottle brush trees may die in below-freezing temperatures cold winter conditions and are not resistant to frost in the slightest. The plant prefers outdoors with plenty of sun, and growing it indoors makes it less likely to bloom and can be more complex.

Sunlight is substantially needed for your bottle brush trees. The plant grows well with full sun exposure daily. Bottle brush trees may not bloom well when the season comes when the plant receives less sunlight than six hours a day. Bottle brush trees will grow well as it does not need any air or wind.

Bottle brush trees may not withstand heavy humidity since it is a bit fragile. As such, they need humidity and water. Soils that don’t drain well can cause root rot since the plant is drought-tolerant. When watered once or twice per week, it will grow healthy. A bottle brush can even tolerate humidity over a month as a plant that loves desertic locations.

As a plant that will grow well in a sandy environment, bottle brush trees prefer slightly alkaline, well-draining loamy soils. The perfect combination for your bottle brush trees to thrive includes nutritious soils with about 5.5 to 7 pH levels.

It grows slowly and is also not a heavy feeder. As such, the plant does not require any fertilization. However, bottle brush trees will grow healthy when fertilized a bit, using a slow-releasing fertilizer.

For pots and space, bottle brush trees can grow anywhere where they can enjoy plenty of space for their roots. Therefore, growing them in containers for the first few months is possible. After that, however, you will need to transplant it when it begins to overgrow the pots.

How to Remove Bottle Brush Tree

You will know the fastest way to remove your bottle brush trees through their sizes. You can use a general tree killer if the tree you plant to remove is not up to five feet. The trees will die by spraying the leaves. You will need to cut down these trees for larger bottle brush trees and immediately treat their stump with a tordon tree killer.

You can use an arborist to remove your bottle brush trees. It will also be worth the time to contact a professional to kill and remove your tree if you have attempted to do it on your own for several weeks. The expert arborists have the equipment and years of experience to help you.

You can also seal the stump with plastic. After cutting your bottle brush tree to a stump, you can seal the top of the stump with plastic. We recommend using heavy-duty black plastic. Put the plastic on the stump and use a Bungie rope or tie-down to secure it.

You can also use chemicals to remove your bottle brush trees. Like we recommended above, tordon tree killer is the most recommended and popular tree remover used by arborists. Apply it on the freshly-cut stump, and the chemical will kill it.

Where to Buy Bottle Brush Tree Seeds Online

Bottle Brush Tree

You can purchase your bottle brush tree seeds online at:

Where to Buy Bottle Brush Tree Saplings Online

Some of the online outlets to buy bottle brush tree saplings online are:


Question: How to Protect My Bottle Brush Tree Against Tree Suckers?

Answer: The plant’s effort to grow more branches are tree or plant suckers. Preventing tree suckers can be preferable to remove them. Keeping your bottle brush in good health may not control tree suckers. What to do is to prune your plant regularly. However, don’t over-pruning because it can stimulate tree suckers.

Question: How Often Should I Water the Bottle Brush Trees?

Answer: Water bottle brush trees daily in their first week after planting. Ensure the roots are thoroughly saturated by watering slowly.

Question: Why is My Bottle Brush Tree not Blooming?

Answer: The bottle brush tree brightens and beautifies the garden with its bright red flowers. You are indeed doing something wrong, like not giving the plant enough sunshine, not following instructions on using fertilizer, or pruning your plant at the wrong time.

Research Citations:

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