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Australian Bottle Tree Care & Maintenance

By Megan Shoop
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Australian bottle trees are native to Queensland, Australia. Named for their shape, they have broad, rounded trunks that narrow toward the branches. The foliage is light to medium green with each leaf having several feathery lobes. The branches on most Australian bottles have very full foliage that drops each fall, revealing large oval seed pods containing round yellow-brown seeds. In the spring, it sprouts small yellow or red flowers. Adult trees grow to a height of about 12 meters or about 32 feet.

Care and Maintenance

Australian bottle trees love warm climates, growing best in warm areas like the Mediterranean, South Africa, Southwest United States and (of course) Australia. If you live in a cold climate or an area with extreme weather changes, grow your bottle tree in a greenhouse or indoors in a temperature-controlled room.

Choose a plot for your tree in full sun with very fertile, slightly acidic soil. Test your soil with a pH testing kit by rubbing a little soil on a litmus paper and comparing the color of the paper to those on the back of the kit. PH’s from 6.5 to 5.5 are ideal; if your soil is too alkaline add a little peat fertilizer to the hole before planting. Even if the soil is the proper pH, add a heaping handful of mature compost to the hole before planting. This will add nutrients to the soil and help drainage.

Water your bottle tree deeply after planting, until the soil is very damp but not squishy. Rainfall should be enough after that to promote proper growth, but Australian bottle trees do not like long dry periods. Water deeply every three days during drought.

The Australian bottle tree does not attract any particular plants or diseases. However, unhealthy trees attract pests and diseases the way tired and unhealthy humans attract viruses. Keep your bottle tree healthy by keeping it watered properly and mulching it every three months or so with peat moss or compost. If you see holes in the leaves, scars on the bark or any other signs of something wrong with your tree, spray sulfur on the affected areas to kill off most pests and fungi without harming the tree or the environment.