Bottlebrushes (Callistemon)

Bottlebrushes (Callistemon): Everything To Plant And Care

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How are Bottlebrushe Bushes planted correctly and what must be observed during maintenance? All information about the so-called lamp cleaner shrub can be found here.

Bottlebrushes (Callistemon) are very popular evergreen potted plants. With their exotic inflorescences, they transform your terrace or balcony into a beautiful tropical oasis in summer.

Bottlebrushes: Origin And Properties

The approximately 35 known Bottlebrushes species belong to the myrtle family (Myrtaceae) and originally come from Australia. In 1789 the Bottlebrushes arrived in Europe and in 1814 the genus Callistemon was described taxonomically for the first time. One of the best-known and most popular Callistemon species is the crimson Bottlebrushes (Callistemon citrinus).

The evergreen plant reaches heights of up to seven meters in its natural habitat in Australia. In the Mediterranean region, Bottlebrush bushes also grow into stately bushes. In the temperate climate, however, it grows to a height of up to three meters. The Callistemon grows as an upright shrub or small tree with overhanging branches, at the tips of which conspicuous flowers are formed repeatedly between May and September in up to four flowering periods.

The Callistemon inflorescences are composed of spike-like arranged individual flowers, whose numerous long stamens protrude almost vertically outwards. This is how the eponymous shape of a bottle brush is created, as the English name suggests. The flowers of the Callistemon appear in a bright red. The flowers of other species bloom in various shades of red, orange, and yellow as well as white.

The leaves of Callistemon bush citrinus have a lanceolate shape, are grey-green in color, and have a hard surface that protects the plant from excessive water loss through evaporation in its native country. In addition, the leaves contain essential oils that have a pleasant lemon scent when rubbed between the fingers.

Plant Callistemon

Because the Callistemon is not hardy, it can only grow in planters. So it can be brought into the house in winter and wintered in a suitable place. From April, when no more frosts are to be expected, the plant may finally leave its winter quarters and be put outside. According to the site conditions of its natural habitat, the Bottlebrushes need a lot of suns.

Therefore, choose a fully sunny, warm, and wind-protected location on your balcony, terrace, or garden. In October, the Callistemon should then be moved to a frost-proof location. The Bottlebrushes can also be kept all year round as an indoor plant in the winter garden or in a light-flooded room. In this case, however, you can expect less blossom, as the plant does not have a proper resting period.

Plant Callistemon

Choose a sufficiently large container in which to plant the Bottlebrushes so that its roots can develop well. Young plants should also be repotted in a larger container every spring. As far as soil properties are concerned, good permeability, a not too high lime content and a weakly acidic pH of the substrate are important. In order to increase the proportion of coarse pores and thus the drainage capacity, expanded clay or lava grit can also be added.

Tip: Young Callistemon is susceptible to root rot. Therefore a high-quality, permeable substrate is particularly important.

Maintain Bottlebrushes: This is to be considered with the care

If you take proper care of the Bottlebrushes, you will be rewarded with a lush profusion of flowers. In addition to the supply of water, occasional fertilization is necessary during the vegetation period in summer. Young plants should also be pruned back regularly to stimulate flowering and to ensure that the Callistemon develops into a compact shrub.

Water Bottlebrushes: Our tips

Young plants in particular must be watered generously and cannot tolerate dryness. If the root ball dries out, the plant reacts with low flower formation and leaf shedding. To avoid this, the soil moisture should be checked daily. If the substrate feels dry in the upper two centimeters, it should be watered. It is essential that the planter has a hole in the bottom so that excess water can drain into a trivet. Stagnant moisture can eventually lead to root rot, which can cause considerable damage to the plant. Clay fragments at the bottom of the pot additionally improve water drainage.

How to fertilize Bottlebrushes

To ensure that the produces many beautiful flowers, again and again, it should be fertilized regularly during the growing season. It reliably supplies the Callistemon with all important nutrients. From April to September, the Callistemon cleaner should be fertilized every one to two weeks with a little liquid fertilizer via the watering water. From organic flower and balcony fertilizer, for example, you add three to five milliliters of liquid fertilizer per liter of water to the watering water.


Through a targeted cut, you keep the Callistemon in shape and stimulate it to produce lush flowers. The shoots, at the tips of which the flowers are located, continue to grow in long rods after flowering. The Callistemon quickly loses its compact shape due to the protruding shoots. You should therefore cut off the withered inflorescences.

This will allow further branches with new flower buds to form below the cut points. The Callistemon can be cut in spring and late summer. In addition to the topiary, you should always remove damaged or dead shoots. Brown shoots in the middle part of the plant often indicate a lack of light. Here it helps to thin out the plant a little so that all areas are sufficiently supplied with light.

Plant Callistemon

Winterize Bottlebrushes properly

The Callistemon is not hardy and must be moved to a frost-proof place in autumn. The winter quarters should be as bright as possible and temperatures should be between 5 and 10 °C. The Bottlebrushes can also be wintered in a warmer place in the house. However, then the cold stimulus is missing. The missing dormancy phase is reflected in a lower flowering in the following year. The substrate must also be kept moist during the winter, but the Bottlebrushes should not be fertilized during this time.

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The Bottlebrushes plaster can be propagated in two different ways. On the one hand, it can be propagated by seeds. The Bottlebrushes is a pyrophyte, which means that its seed capsules can survive for years and only burst open and release the seeds when exposed to strong heat. In their natural habitat in Australia, the Bottlebrushes, like other pyrophytes, thus follow the strategy of dropping their seeds on fertile soil in bush fires when their own existence is threatened by the fire.

To get the seeds, you have to heat the fruit capsules of the Callistemon either over a flame or in the oven. The heat stimulus simultaneously breaks the dormancy of the seeds and makes them germinable. You can then sow them in growing dishes filled with substrate. Since the Callistemon is a light germinator, you should not cover the delicate seeds, or only cover them with a very fine layer of the substrate. The optimum germination temperature is 15 °C. Always keep the soil moist.

As an alternative to propagation via seeds, Callistemon can also be propagated via cuttings. To do this, cut off head cuttings from the shoots that are about ten centimeters long, ideally flowerless, and as little lignified as possible. Remove the lower leaves and leave only the uppermost pair of leaves. The cuttings should be cut diagonally with a sharp knife so that the area where new roots are to form is as large as possible.

The seeds of the cylinder cleaner can be removed from their pods by heat

Rooting powder can also be used to stimulate root development. Place the cuttings in containers filled with sowing soil and place them in a bright place without direct sunlight. The optimum temperature for development is 18 to 20 °C. Always keep the soil moist with a spray bottle. In addition to humidification, plastic hoods are suitable to keep the moisture. However, these must be opened or removed for a few minutes every day to ensure that the cuttings are adequately ventilated.

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A successful rooting can be recognized by the fact that new leaves are formed. Then the young plants can be planted in normal soil for the Callistemon and initially placed in a sheltered, sunny to semi-shady place.

Tip: The propagation of the Callistemon via cuttings usually succeeds better and faster than via seeds. In addition, vegetatively propagated plants are more likely to flower.

Perhaps you still have an open question: Are the Bottlebrushes poisonous? Here we have good news for you: There are no known toxic effects of the Callistemon. Nevertheless, it is an ornamental plant that is supposed to delight our senses with its beauty and fragrance and is not suitable for consumption.

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