Bottlebrush is a member of the Myrtle family and is a native of Australia. The large shrub or small tree gets its name from the 2-to-4-inch red or white flowers with bristly filaments that resemble a bottle brush. The shrub has several forms, including the red bottlebrush, weeping bottlebrush and dwarf bottlebrush. These shrubs are hardy in USDA planting zones 9 through 11, and with the exception of the weeping form, they are very drought tolerant. Hummingbirds are attracted to the red bottlebrush.
Choose a location that has full sun and well-draining soil. If the area puddles after a hard rain and it is not completely absorbed by the soil within 4 hours, then choose a higher location in your landscape.
Dig a hole twice the diameter of the container the tree is currently in, and remove all turf grass, weeds and stones from the soil. Mix the remaining soil with compost at a ratio of 2 parts soil to 1 part compost.
Carefully remove the bottlebrush shrub from the container, and set it into the planting hole. If the roots are very dry, pour 2 gallons of water over the roots in the hole.
Cover the roots with the amended soil, and water to settle the soil around the root system. Continue to fill the hole until it is level with the surrounding ground. Tamp the soil down either by hand or with your feet.
Water the shrub immediately after planting and every two days for the first two weeks. Then irrigate twice a week throughout the first growing season. After that the root system should be established, and watering once a week should be sufficient when there has been no substantial rain.
Spread a 3-inch layer of mulch over the disturbed area of the ground and increase the diameter as the shrub grows. This will keep the weeds from growing under the shrub and help to retain moisture for the roots.
Apply slow-release fertilizer once you start to see growth and again each spring. Follow manufacturer’s directions on the amount to use per size and age of the bottlebrush.