How to Grow: Callistemon (alternative name: Bottlebrush)

With their vibrant, fuzzy-looking flowerheads in summer, Callistemon (Bottlebrush) are instantly recognisable.

As you might suspect Callistemon (Bottlebrush) are not hardy outdoors in all parts of the UK, although some are definitely proving hardier than others. The range increases the more favoured the location – such as those influenced by the Gulf stream in the South West of England and West Scotland, most maritime areas, and sheltered nooks in inner city gardens.

If you can’t grow them outdoors, or don’t want to take the risk, they also make striking cool conservatory and greenhouse plants in borders or containers.

Where to Plant Callistemons (Bottlebrushes)

Outdoors, Callistemon (Bottlebrush) look more comfortable in shrubs or mixed borders, particularly if associated with other Australian (as well as Mediterranean) plants also possessing drought tolerant foliage – these include salvias, hebes, caryopteris and rosemary. They also look good with flamboyant woody plants such as yucca, palms and tetrapanax. Callistemon (Bottlebrush)  tend to look out of place with the lush cottage-style planting of many UK gardens.

Although our winters can be cold and test many bottlebrushes when planted outdoors, plants such as: Callistemon viridiflorus, C. pallidus and  C. citrinus ‘Splendens’ are worth trying, and you could experiment with others.

They need a sunny, sheltered position away from cold winds: a south- or south-west facing wall being ideal.

If you can’t grow them outdoors, or don’t want to take the risk, they also make striking cool conservatory and greenhouse plants in borders or containers.

Soil Conditions
Generally unfussy as to soil, they tolerate poor sandy conditions, but do not thrive in shallow, chalk soils unless plenty of organic matter is dug in. They will tolerate drought as long as it is not too prolonged. Once established they do not need special attention and are generally problem-free.

When to prune
Lightly prune after flowering to keep them under control, cutting just behind the spent flowerhead. Most callistemons do not take kindly to being hard-pruned, although C. citrinus ‘Splendens’ can be cut more severely, and this is best attempted immediately after flowering.

 

 

  • a swallow

    the weather has been dreadful in england, rain, rain, rain. The flowers on my bottle brush have gone, should I prune it now or wait? will it re flower?