How to Prune Bottle Brush Plants

Overview

Many varieties of brush bottle plants are available, and they come in many shapes and sizes. Small bottle brush plants are no bigger than the average house plant at 2 feet in height. The largest varieties can reach 10 feet or more in height and are often grown as small trees. But all bottle brushes, no matter their size, can be easily identified by their unique blossoms. These long, spiky blooms come in a number of colors and attract hummingbirds, butterflies and other nectar-loving insects. And attentive gardeners can keep these eye-catching spring blossoms around through the fall with routine pruning.

Step 1

Shape your bottle brush plant. Bottle brush plants are not meant to be hedges and should never be forced into geometric shapes. However, unruly looking bottle brush plants can be tamed and encouraged to thicken with regular pruning. When pruning, focus on relatively new, green growth. Old wood in the interior of the plant should be left alone. Keep in mind that flowers are produced on the bottle brush plant's new growth. You must prune your bottle brush in very early spring to avoid sacrificing spring flowers.

Step 2

Prune or "dead head" any bottle brush flowers as soon as they are spent. Use pruning shears to prune just behind the flower. More flowers will grow in their place the following fall.

Step 3

Prune old, slow-growing bottle brush plants back to the ground in early spring. If fertilized with a slow-release 8-8-8 fertilizer, your bottle brush plant will grow back more vigorously next season.

Things You'll Need

  • Pruning shears
  • 8-8-8 slow-release fertilizer

References

  • Australian National Botanic Gardens: Callistemon (Bottlebrushes)
  • Floridata: Callistemon viminalis
  • Austra Flora: Pruning Australian Plants
Keywords: bottle brush, prune bottle brush, dead head bottle brush

About this Author

Emma Gin is a freelance writer who specializes in green, healthy and smart living. She is currently working on developing a weight-loss website that focuses on community and re-education. Gin is also working on a collection of short stories, because she knows what they say about idle hands.