Bottlebrush (Callistemon species)
Few gardeners can resist the flamboyant spring and summer blooms of native bottlebrush. Red and pink shades dominate flower colour choices, but mauve, white and even green-flowered species and cultivated varieties are available. Bees and nectar-feeding birds flock to blooms. Birds also snack on the small, seed-filled woody cones and pick off insects that hide within bark crevices.
Bottlebrush thrive in most garden situations, even if your soil is heavy clay. Best of all, there is a size to suit every situation:
- Pots and small gardens Little John, Captain Cook, Matthew Flinders.
- Medium shrubs and informal hedges Rose Opal, Pink Alma, Purple Splendour, Saint Mary MacKillop.
- Tall shrubs and trees King’s Park Special, Dawson River, Hannah Ray, Wild River.
Aspect North, north-east or west facing positions that provide potentially the most available sunlight are preferred, but bottlebrush also tolerate shade for some part of the day. Established plants buffer strong winds and are ideal for creating shelter and privacy screening. On steeper sites, plant bottlebrush at the base of slopes where soil moisture naturally accumulates.
Soil Bottlebrush are perfectly happy in clay soil that grevilleas and some other native plants will not tolerate. They cope with everything from poor soil fertility through to deep, rich loam as well as a wide pH range. Improve the soil prior to planting by cultivating and adding home-made compost or Seasol Super Compost. Improving the soil’s water-holding ability is the key to success in light or well-drained soil.
Climate Bottlebrush occur naturally all over Australia, but the greatest diversity occurs along the east coast. They cope with both cold and extreme heat, tolerating everything from medium frost in southern and inland regions through to flooding rain and temporary waterlogging in the tropics. You will find the greatest choice of varieties in nurseries during late spring and early summer.