What is Callistemon?
Callistemon (Callistemon spp.) also known as Bottlebrush are evergreen shrubs and small trees. They are part of the Myrtaceae family and is native to Australia. Callistemon are available in various sizes from ground covers, small shrubs right up to trees. They get their common name from their flowers which look like old fashioned bottle cleaners. Foliage colour varies depending on variety. Some foliage colours are dark green, grey green and mid green. Some varieties will produce new foliage that is a different colour such as “Green John” which has lime green new leaves before they turn dark green and Red Alert which has striking red new foliage. In Spring Callistemon put on a brilliant floral display. They produce brush like flowers in shades of cream, yellow, pink, green or red. They can then usually put on a second display of flowers in Autumn if well watered during Summer and given a light trim back after the first flowering period. After the flowers have finished long lasting woody seed capsules remain. Plants that are grown in shade will produce less flowers. Callistemon prefer a full sun to part shade position in the garden that has moist well draining soils. Many species can tolerate damp conditions and will tolerate drought.
Benefits of Growing Callistemon
Callistemon are an easy care, long lived and minimal maintenance plant. They offer a colourful display over long periods and can be grown as a feature tree in your garden. Callistemon can be grown as a hedge, windbreak or a screen. They are a must for any Australian native garden and they will attract native birds and beneficial insects into the garden.
How to Grow Callistemon
Cool to tropical.
Sizes vary ranging from 50cm to 4m tall.
Little John Height: 75cm-1m, Width: 50cm-1m
Captain Cook Height: 1.5-2m, Width: 1.5-2m
Purple Splendour Height: 2-4m, Width: 2-2.25m
When To Plant Callistemon
Most Callistemons prefer moist, well-drained, slightly acid soil however they will grow well in a wide variety of soils.
How To Plant Callistemon
Plant in full sun to part shade, with the plant crown at soil level. Plant in a hole at least twice the size of the pot, the same level as the pot.
Callistemon Plant Care
Only water when the soil appears dry, then water until damp.
Mulch to retain moisture in the soil, and suppress weeds.
Apply an annual application of a complete fertiliser specifically designed for Australian Natives during Spring.
Trim regularly after flowering to keep the plant tidy. This will also encourage bushier growth and greater flower production in the next season.