How to Grow and Take Care of Bottle Brush Plant

Bottle brush is beautiful as well as unique with the spikes of flowers coming in vivacious colors. Keep on reading to learn how to grow and take care of it so that it will spruce up your garden nicely.


Bottle Brush Plant

Bottle brush trees have been a Christmas decor staple for many years and are available basically everywhere when the holiday season rolls around.
Callistemon (bottlebrush)

Bottle brush plant, also known as Callistemon, is native to Australia. As the name suggests, it features bristly flowers blooming at the ends of the stems, which reminds people of a traditional bottle brush.

People usually grow it as a bottle brush shrub or tree that makes a perfect adornment for a small garden under windows or borders. It can also add a lively lift to your porch by flanking the front door.

Bottle brush tree and shrub are varied in the term of size. The dwarf varieties usually grow up to 3 feet, while some other types can reach approximately 15 feet tall.

This plant can thrive well with its moderate growth rate if it lives in USDA hardiness zones 8 to 11.

If you happen to dwell in a cooler area, you had better grow it in a pot so that you can move it inside the house during the winter.

Callistemon loves to grow in loamy, moist soil with good drainage. It also likes full sun because it can help it produce spectacular blooms.

Taking care of bottle brush plant is not that hard since it is low-maintenance and resistant to drought. Furthermore, it is a popular desert perennial due to the colorful blooms and being inexpensive.

The flowers of bottle brush usually bloom in spring and summer. The blossoms range from red, green, yellow, and white. This plant also has fairly short and narrow leaves.

Due to the vivid flowers, Callistemon usually appeal to nectar-feeding birds like hummingbirds. It also attracts bees and wasps, creating a dramatic garden.

Grow Bottle Brush

Bottle brush get their common name from their bristly and typically red flowers that look like a traditional bottle brush.
Bottle brush plant

The exotic look of the bottle brush has made many people are eager to grow it in their yard or pot.

Growing Bottle Brush in the Garden

Growing bottle brush outdoors allows you to improve your curb appeal. This is how you plant it.

  • Before beginning to plant, you have to choose the site thoroughly. Make sure that this place receives full sun every day.

If you are not sure about the place that you are going to use to grow it, you can check the sunniest site by observing where the sun hits for the first time in the morning.

Check whether it still obtains a lot of light in the afternoon.

  • Dig a hole in the ground. Make sure it is twice as wide as the root ball. However, the depth has to remain the same.
  • Take the bottle brush that you are going to plant from the flower pot, and disentangle the roots gently.
  • Put it in the hole, and then backfill it with soil. It will gently firm down the plant.
  • Form a raised ring-shaped of soil around the outer edge of the root zone to keep the water stays where it is supposed to be.
  • Water the bottle brush after planting. It will make the soil settle and keep it moist for several weeks, which encourages the new plant to establish.
  • Add sugarcane or woodchip around the base. Remember that you need to keep the mulch away from the trunk.
  • Fertilize it in autumn and spring to encourage strong root development, foliage growth, and a large number of beautiful flowers.

Growing Bottle Brush in a Container

Bottle brush usually grow directly in the ground. However, dwarf cultivars and varieties will look great in a container.

Besides, it will make the shrub withstand the effects of less favourable soil types. Another benefit is you can move the plant easily when the climate changes. Here is how you grow Callistemon in a pot.

  • To grow bottle brush in a pot, find a container that comes in 50 cm in diameter and 40 cm in depth. Providing good drainage is a must since it is essential.
  • Line the bottom with porous landscape fabric to prevent the drain hole from being clogged with soil.

If you also use a layer of pebbles in the bottom, lay the porous fabric on top of it.

  • Remove bottle brush from the nursery pot by gently lifting it. If it happens to stuck, you had better cut the container so that the plant will not be damaged.
  • Once it has been removed, gently loosen the feeder roots.
  • Fill the bottom of your pot with good quality soil mix. Set your bottle brush in the container, adjust it by adding or removing some soil if necessary. The top edge of the root ball is supposed to stay an inch from the rim.
  • Backfill the plant by adding potting soil around the root ball, and tamping it until the level is even with the top edge.
  • Water the plant thoroughly.
  • Apply a 1/2″ layer of wood chips or pine bark onto the top of the soil to retain moisture and hinder weeds from emerging.

Bottle Brush Care

Bottle brush aren't picky about the soil type as long as it is well drained. If the soil is very poor, enrich with compost at planting time.
Bottle brush flower

Giving your bottle brush proper care is essential to make it thrive well and produce exquisite blooms. Here are several useful tips to keep it robust.


Actually, bottle brush is drought tolerant and not fussy. However, when it is still young, you will have to provide enough water.

If it has not been raining lately, consider watering your plant once a week in spring and summer. Let the soil absorb the water thoroughly by showering the plant slowly.

You can also try adding a layer of mulch over the soil to keep it moist by preventing the water from evaporating. Do not overwater your bottle brush because it will lead to root rot.

It is imperative that you avoid root rot happening to your bottle brush tree because it is irreversible and cannot be cured.

Therefore, ensuring that you do not give too much water to your plant and provide proper drainage in the pot are your safe bet.

Another good idea to promote drainage is by adding builders sand to your soil mix. If the excess water can drain well, you can hold the root-rot risk at bay.


Bottle brush prefers full sun so that it can produce a lot of striking flowers. If you are going to grow it in your garden, make sure you choose the site that receives direct light for at least 6 hours a day.

Be careful of neighboring plants that are likely to grow bigger than your bottle brush plant, which creates a shade that blocks the sun.

If that happens, kindly trim the branches or twigs of the plant that hinders your Callistemon from obtaining full sun.


Since bottle brush is native to Australia, which has tropical and subtropical climates, it likes warm places.

Therefore, if you live in a region that tends to have cold winters, you had better grow your Callistemon in a container so that you can move it inside the house when the temperatures drop.


Feeding the bottle brush plant is necessary so that you can enjoy the alluring blooms. However, you need to make sure that you give it the appropriate fertilizer.

Some fertilizers contain a high percentage of nitrogen, while some others are rich of phosphorus. If you want to see the striking blooms, opt for the latter because they aid in flower development.

A fertilizer that has a high percentage of nitrogen promotes foliage growth, which makes your plant become very leafy.

Fertilizers come in several kinds. Many people like using the granular type for the plants that grow outdoors, while they tend to use the liquid one for the bottle brush that lives in a container.

Pay attention to the amount of fertilizer that you use to feed the plant. Too much feeding can wreak havoc on your Callistemon.

If you are not sure about how much fertilizer you should give, using less than the necessary amount will be better.

In addition to providing the right fertilizer, you also need to apply it in an appropriate time.

Never fertilize your bottle brush in colder months because it will be useless. This plant will not be growing in winter, so you do not need to provide extra nutrients.


Pruning is necessary if you want to keep enjoying simultaneous blooms. Prune your Callistemon in early spring if you want it to get the right size and shape.

If you want to keep your plant being healthy, do it in early spring and late summer.

Bottle Brush Plant Problems

Most common bottlebrush diseases include both easy-to-remedy problems, like twig gall or mildew, and serious issues like root rot and verticillium wilt.
Bottle brush problem

Just like any other plant, bottle brush may also encounter several problems during it’s growth.

Root rot often occurs in many plants, including Callistemon, may come across. It happens because your bottle brush is soaked. Just make sure you not overwater it. Otherwise, you will have to deal with this issue.

Powdery mildew is a disease that often occurs in damp conditions. You can tell it by seeing the white or gray spots on leaves, flowers, or stems. You can solve this issue by using fungicide.

Bottle brush is a low-maintenance plant that will infuse an alluring look in your home instantly. It may come across several problems, which can be avoided if you treat it properly.

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