Bottlebrush Tree

Guidelines for Growing a Bottlebrush Tree

            Few landscape choices can bring eye catching interest and beauty to a yard like the bottlebrush tree.  This popular evergreen has its origins in Australia, where it is can be displayed as either a colorful shrub or a tree.

            The tree is classified as sub tropical, which means it is able to cope with light frost but not sustained colds registering under 32°.  This makes it a perfect choice for areas that are included in the USDA plant hardiness zones 9 to 11, which consist of the far western coastline and the southernmost borders of the U.S.   It prefers a full sun and humid environment, which is usually not a problem in these regions.  When grown in the proper atmosphere, the bottlebrush tree is a quite a hardy plant.

            For ease in landscaping, the tree can be either planted directly into the ground or can be used as a container plant.  When placing the small plant into the ground, be sure that the soil will retain moisture without being soggy.  The soil type is generally not an issue, as the tree will do well in neutral to acidic soil.  Dig a hole that is three times the size of the root ball to allow room for the tree to spread its roots and be firmly anchored in the soil.  Remove the tree from the container or burlap in which it was purchased and examine the roots.  If they are tightly compressed, the roots will need to be loosened slightly.  Using either your fingers or a small spade, pull apart the roots.  Place the young tree into the hole, “butterflying” the roots into the space.  Back fill the hole with the soil that was originally removed until slightly above surface level; tamp lightly with your hands.

            Keeping the newly planted tree well watered until it is established is crucial.  Provide water immediately after planting, and then once each week during normal temperature conditions and more often during the hottest periods of summer.  If dehydration of the soil is a possibility, mulch around the tree to a depth of 3 or 4 inches using wood chips to hold in moisture.

            The bottlebrush tree can be expected to reach heights of around 15’, growing at a moderate rate.  The attractive leaves of the evergreen are long and sharply pointed.  Blooms may begin to appear as early as late spring, and can continue until late winter.  It is prized for the eye catching blossoms that spike out in the semblance of a true bottle brush.  Brilliant red in color, the flowers of the tree are attractive not only to humans, but desirable for bees, birds and butterflies as well.

            A commonly seen version of the plant is the weeping bottlebrush tree.   Amenable to the same growing regions as its cousin, the weeping variety exhibits 6 inch long bright red blooms in the spring that hang from the drooping branches in dramatic fashion.  Also of medium height and growth rate, the weeping tree is as easy to grow and as tolerant of conditions as the standard variety.

            Both types of the exotic looking tree should be pruned to maintain a nicely rounded shape.  Cutting back the branches can be done virtually any time of the year, but best done when not in the flowering stage for the best of appearance.

            Bright red clusters of blossoms mimicking the appearance of a bottle brush can add great interest to any landscape within areas with little chance of frost.  The evergreen leaves will continue that interest during non-blooming times regardless of which variety of the tree is chosen.  Clearly, the bottlebrush tree is a great choice for a landscape tree or shrub.