How to Trim a Bottle Brush Tree


Bottlebrush trees are named for their spikes of small flowers with long red stamens, which resemble a bottlebrush. Three varieties of bottlebrush trees are commonly grown in gardens or home landscapes. Red bottlebrush (Callistemon rigidus) has an upright form, weeping bottlebrush (C. viminalis) has an arching form, and lemon bottlebrush (C. citrinus) has a citrusy scent. All grow slowly and need little trimming. The flowers bloom on the current season's growth, so trimming should be done immediately after flowering or while dormant.

Step 1

Use hand pruners to trim limbs smaller than 1/2 inch in diameter. Use lopping shears to prune larger limbs. Cut limbs at a 30-degree angle just above a joint or bud.

Step 2

Remove crossed, bent or broken limbs with hand pruners or lopping shears.

Step 3

Prune out dead or diseased limbs. Signs of disease include cankers, split bark or wood, oozing lesions, and dead or dying foliage.

Step 4

Thin out older, unproductive branches on bottlebrush shrubs at ground level to encourage new growth.

Step 5

Remove all the limbs from the lower 1/3 of the trunk of your bottlebrush tree. Step back and check that the remaining limbs in the canopy are in balance with the length of the trunk. Remove more limbs from the trunk, if necessary.

Step 6

Trim long or protruding limbs that spoil the shape of the shrub or tree. Remove any limbs that interfere with passageways.

Step 7

Use hand pruners or your fingers to remove suckers from around the base of the trunk.

Things You'll Need

  • Hand pruners
  • Lopping shears


  • University of Florida: Callistemon rigidus
  • Arizona State University: Callistemon citrinus
  • University of Florida: Callistemon viminalis

Who Can Help

  • University of Hawaii: Pruning Landscape Trees and Shrubs
  • Texas A&M University: Medium to Large Shrubs
Keywords: trim Bottlebrush tree, Bottlebrush shrub, Callistemon rigidus, Callistemon viminalis, Calistemon citrinus

About this Author

Melody Lee worked as a newspaper reporter, copywriter and editor for 5 years. In addition, she has edited magazine articles and books. Lee holds a degree in landscape design and is a Florida master gardener. She has more than 25 years of gardening experience, which includes working at nurseries and greenhouses.