Bottlebrush Plant: Facts, Plant Information And Health Benefits

bottlebush plant

Callistemon citrinus is commonly known as bottlebrush plant. Apart from bottlebrush it is also known as Crimson bottle-brush, Red bottle-brush or lemon bottle brush. It gets their name from the spikes of flowers that bloom at the ends of the stems, bearing a strong resemblance to a bottle brush.

Due to its adaptability and hardiness; it is widely used as a landscaping plant. Stunning flowers of bottlebrush plant are a great attraction for native nectar feeding wild life including insects, butterflies and birds.

Bottlebrush belongs to the Callistemon genus in the Myrtaceae family. This family is closely related to the Melaleuca tree. The whole genus is endemic to Australia but widely cultivated in many other regions and naturalized in scattered locations.

They are mostly found in the more temperate regions of Australia, particularly along the east coast. Bottlebrush typically favor moist conditions. So, when planted in gardens thrive on regular watering.

Landscape Uses of Bottlebrush Plant

  • Hedge
  • Small tree
  • Privacy Screen
  • Single yard specimen
  • Fence or lining a drive
  • Anchor for a garden bed
  • Large Shrub for the corner of the house

Bottlebrushe: A Gardening Plant

Bottlebrushe makes excellent garden plant. Plants are all woody shrubs which range from 0.5 m to 4 m tall. The flowers can be spectacular and are irresistible to nectar-feeding birds and insects. Most species are frost tolerant.

Bottlebrush: A Gardening Plant

The popularity of bottlebrushes as garden plants commenced soon after European settlement and Crimson Bottlebrush (Callistemon citrinus ) was introduced to Britain by Joseph Banks in 1789. Many species can tolerate (or thrive in) damp conditions, yet most are very hardy and will tolerate drought and limited maintenance. They grow well in a wide variety of soils, except those which are highly alkaline. Plants grown in full sun produce the best flowers.

Plants can be lightly pruned after flowering to keep them in shape. A low-phosphorous fertilizer should be applied in spring and autumn. Mulching will help retain soil moisture and reduce weed growth. Many cultivars have been selected from natural variants and hybrids between species. Some of these are very good garden plants.

Bottle Bush History

Bottle brush trees and shrubs (Callistemon spp.) which are native to Australia get their name from the flower spikes that form in spring or summer. Up till now there are 40 species in this genus. The bottle brush is a woody shrub. Most bottle brushes found in the east and south-east of Australia. Bottlebrush shrubs can be found growing from Australia’s tropical north to the temperate south. They often grow in damp or wet conditions such as along creek beds or in areas which are prone to floods.

Bottlebrush Plant

Bottlebrush plant is an evergreen smart tree or a shrub. It ranges in size from 0.5 meter woody shrubs to 5 meter woody trees. They are commonly found in the more temperate regions of Australia. They often grow in damp or wet conditions such as along creek beds or in areas which are prone to floods. However, two species are found in Tasmania and several others in the south-west of Western Australia. At least some species are drought-resistant and some are used in ornamental landscaping elsewhere in the world. The shrub thrives in clay, loam and sand soils that are moderately fertile, moist but well drained. Poor soil should be mixed with compost to improve drainage. Bark is grey in color with interlacing ridges with numerous, long, slender and drooping branches.

Bottlebrush Leaves

The flowers of Bottlebrush plant are light green, sharp, pointed, narrow lanceolate that are up to 3 to 7 cm long and 5 to 8 mm wide. The veins of the leaves are clearly visible on both sides.

Bottlebrush Flower

Bottlebrush plant has cylindrical shaped, vibrant flowers. The color being produced by the filaments, at the end of these is where the pollen is formed adding to the natural beauty of the flower. The flower spikes are 6 to 10 cm in length and about 4 to 7 cm in diameter. Ranging from crimson reds, bright pinks oranges and yellows flowers in dense cylindrical spikes. The stamens are red, purplish-red, or lilac while the anthers are dark-colored. Flowering normally takes place from November through to the end of February.

Bottlebrush Fruit

Each flower produces small woody fruits that contain hundreds of tiny seeds. These fruits form in clusters along the stem, and are usually held on the plant for many years. The seeds are usually not released from the fruits for several years, but in some species the fruits open after about a year. The seed capsules, which appear in clusters along the stems, are woody, cup-shaped, and about 7 mm wide.

Types of Bottlebrush

The following types of bottlebrush have been grown successfully at the gardens.

1- Callistemon brachyandrus – Prickly Bottlebrush

This is a prickly-leaved shrub that grows best in well-drained soils in full sun. It is an outstanding plant for hot, dry areas. The tips of the small red flower-spikes covered in yellow pollen are most attractive. The rounded shrubs grow to about 3 m in length.

2- Callistemon citrinus – Crimson Bottlebrush

Crimson Bottlebrush is the best known and widely cultivated hardy shrub. The bright red flower-spikes appear in summer and autumn. Crimson Bottlebrush grows well in wet conditions and usually reaches 4 m. Plants should be lightly pruned and fertilized after flowering. Neglected or misshapen plants respond to hard pruning.

3- Callistemon formosus – Kingaroy Bottlebrush

This attractive bottlebrush shrub is suitable for tropical and frost-free zones. Plants grow about 3 meter tall and have weeping branches. Flower spikes of lemon color are produce throughout the year. It is planted as street tree in Kingaroy, Queensland.

4- Callistemon pallidus – Lemon Bottlebrush

Lemon bottlebrush is a tough, frost tolerant specie, however, grows well in most soil conditions. Plants grow and flower best in full sun. During summer, lemon color flower spikes are produce. These plants grow to about 3 m.

5- Callistemon pityoides – Alpine Bottlebrush

Alpine bottlebrush is most hardy and attractive bottlebrush that is available in several forms. It grows to about 1 meter tall as compact bush while other forms grow as erect shrubs to about 2 meter. In spring and summer season, yellow flower spikes are produce. Alpine bottlebrush grows best in moist soils, however, it can withstand heavy pruning if required. It is frost hardy.

6- Callistemon salignus – Willow Bottlebrush

This small bottlebrush tree has attractive narrow foliage and white papery bark. It is drought resistant and quite hardy, although it can be affected by the frost in cold climates. The flower-spikes are generally white or greenish but pink, red and mauve forms can be found. It is an excellent garden and street tree which grows 5 to 12 meter tall.

7- Callistemon Subulatus

This is a compact shrub that grows from 1 to 3 meter tall and is able to tolerate quite wet conditions. Callistemon subulatus is a freely flowering plant which produces red flower spikes over summer. Light pruning after flowering will keep the shrub compact.

8- Callistemon viminalis – Weeping Bottlebrush

This large bottlebrush is widely cultivated.It produce bright red flower spikes which are very rich in nectar and attract many birds. Plants grow in a variety of soils, but can be frost tender, especially when young. Weeping Bottlebrush grows 5 to 7 m tall.

How To Grow Bottlebrush Plant

Things You Need

  • Spade
  • Pruning shears
  • Iron chelate (optional)
  • Soaker hose or drip system
  • Slow-release 8-8-8 fertilizer
  1. Choose a dry to moist soil planting site with full and direct sun exposure and a proper draining system. Bottlebrush plants grow well in acidic to mildly alkaline soils with pH ranges 5.6 to 7.5. In highly alkaline soil, foliage on plants develops chlorotic or yellowing due to chlorophyll loss.
  2. Prefer to plant bottlebrush in fall as low temperatures reduce stress on the rooting plant. Moreover, winter rains help it establish with a minimum of supplemental irrigation. Set it in an inward-angled hole measuring three to five times the width of its root ball at the top and twice its width at the base. Make the hole deep enough that the top of the root ball protrudes 1/4 to 1/2 inch above its edge.
  3. Water bottle brush whenever its foliage begins to wilt, or the top 3 to 4 inches of soil are dry to the touch, during its first growing season. Once its roots are well established; water only during prolonged dry periods. Slow, deep watering with a drip system or soaker hose encourages deep, drought-resistant roots.
  4. Feed the shrub with a slow-release, 8-8-8 fertilizer in spring and summer. Apply the fertilizer according to the manufacturer’s recommendations.

Pruning of Bottlebrush Plant 

  1. Prune bottlebrush right after its new growth emerges, but before the tender tissue has hardened and set flower buds. Pruning to remove spent flowers also keeps it tidy. After several years, cutting all the branches to the ground and giving the shrub an extra dose of fertilizer results in vigorous growth.
  2. Inspect bottlebrush for Dictyospermum scale infestation. The yellowish-brown, 1/16-inch barnacle-shaped pests colonize and consume sap from the shrub’s foliage. While they seldom cause enough damage to warrant treatment, blasting the plants with a strong jet of water removes the pests.
  3. Watch the shrub for yellow leaves, an indication of iron deficiency. Treat the problem by applying iron chelate to the soil at a rate of 0.8 to 1.6 ounces per 100 square feet. The application remains effective for up to three years.

Bottlebrush Facts

  • It is used for fuel.
  • A tan dye is obtained from the flowers of bottlebrush. It does not require a mordant, and is green when mordanted.
  • The wood of bottlebrush is closed grained, heavy, hard, tough, but too small for economic use and is used for tool handles.
  • For landscaping purposes, bottlebrush shrubs are used as foundation plant in borders, around parking lots and on the side of water pools.

Benefits of Bottlebrush Plant

  • It is used as diuretic and for relieving problems of the urinary tract.
  • Bottlebrush is also used for urinary incontinence and bed-wetting in children.
  • Indigenous people of Australia used the bottlebrush flowers as a natural energy drink.
  • Bottlebrush essential oil is used to harmonize a room or house bringing tranquil healing vibrations.
  • In Jamaica, decoction used bottlebrush as “hot tea” treatment of gastroenteritis, diarrhea, and skin infections.
  • Bottlebrush plant is used by women as douche to cleanse the genitourinary tract from excessive menstruation or mucosal discharge as leukorrhea.

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