Callistemon citrinus

Calistemon citrinus – Australian Bottlebrush

Bright crimson or cerise flower spikes cover the tree in late spring.

 

 

 

This scarlet variety is probably C. citrinus “Splendens”.

This cerise variety is probably C. citrinus “Hot pink”.

Habit:

This is small tree, reaching 5M at maturity. The plant starts life as a bush, eventually growing into a multi-stemmed tree. Flowers form at the tips of young branches, which keep growing after flowering, leaving a cylinder of hard woody fruits along the stem. The fruits contain hundreds of seeds that are not usually released for several years, other than by fire in the wild.

Selections and hybrids are now available in a range of colours including; purple, pink, red, yellow and white.

Origins:

C. citrinus comes from the coastal areas of Australia. It was first taken back to the UK by Jospeh Banks, the naturalist on board Captain Cook’s first journey to Australia, in 1770. It seems to prefer dry stream beds or areas prone to flooding. Leaves are citrus-scented when damaged, hence the name.

Soil / Aspect:

This is a hardy and reliable plant, that is justly popular in gardens. It prefers good drainage, but is not picky. It needs sunshine to flower well and is best grown as a specimen plant.

Maintenance:

C. citrinus is normally left to grow as it pleases. Removing the lower branches to improve air circulation helps to prevent occurrence of the Eucalyptus rust fungus, which is just about the only disease or pest this plant can suffer from. Prune after flowering to manage the shape, or cut to the ground to rejuvenate the entire plant. It can be trimmed to grow as a hedge.