With its colorful fronds in hues of red or yellow, the bottlebrush tree (Callistemon citrinus) attracts hummingbirds to your yard. The tree needs little pruning once established, but gardeners should remove dead or unhealthy wood whenever it's discovered. Otherwise prune the bottlebrush tree to shape it annually or less often. Always prune in autumn when the bottlebrush stops flowering for the season. Pruning in spring reduces the flower display.
Check the branches of your bottlebrush tree looking for signs of dead, diseased or damaged limbs. Dead growth won't move in the wind and feels brittle. Diseased and damaged growth may be wounded, scarred, discolored or deformed and will look markedly different from healthy wood.
Prepare a sanitizing solution in a bucket by mixing 1 part bleach with 10 parts water. Place your pruners in the bucket, then cut off the dead and unhealthy wood at its base. Disinfect your pruners after every cut by dipping them in the sanitizing solution.
Trim back the tips of long limbs using anvil pruners. Cut back to a lateral branch or a swollen node.
Prune off branches that crisscross other branches since their friction will damage the tree. Also cut off low growing or downward-growing branches that impede movement under your bottlebrush tree.
Thin out the canopy to promote air circulation by removing some of the growth. Remove older limbs (which have thick bases) or weak new growth that will not develop well. Cut off shoots that grow vertically.