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How to Prune a Bottle Brush Tree

By Paula Ezop ; Updated September 21, 2017

The bottle brush tree is an evergreen that is native to Australia. The name “bottle brush” reflects the characteristics of its bright red flower spikes, which do attract humming birds. This plant can be trained as a shrub or a tree. A mature bottle brush will reach a height of 10 to 15 feet, and a spread of 10 to 15 feet. It is hardy in zones 9 through 11. Reasons for pruning will be to remove dead or broken branches, to maintain a size and shape within your landscape design, to ensure safety along walkways, and to remove any suckers. The bottle brush tree requires only light pruning, which should be done after it has flowered.

Cut away any dead or broken branches immediately, to ensure the health and integrity of the flowering shrub, as broken branches are an entryway for disease. Where you make your cut depends upon the location of the break or the dead branch. You can prune either at the base of the shrub (if it has been trained as a shrub) or at the trunk of the tree, or where the break/dead wood is located. If you are not cutting away the entire branch, then make your cut approximately ¼ inch before a bud.

Use the “tip pruning” technique to maintain the shrub within your landscape design. Flowers are formed on the new growth, so once the tree/shrub has finished flowering, prune just behind the flower by making a lateral cut. You can then deposit the plant material in your compost bin.

Cut off any suckers that are growing from the trunk or from the roots of the tree/shrub. Suckers take away valuable nutrients from the plant.

 

Things You Will Need

  • Hand pruning shears
  • Lopping shears
  • Pole pruning shears
  • Tree saw

Tips

  • The tools that you will use will depend upon the size and location of the branch that you need to prune.
  • Keep the blades of your cutting tools sharp so that you make clean cuts when pruning.
  • Root and crown fungus can develop if the soil is too moist, so keep it on the dry side. Good air circulation will also help in preventing fungus from developing -- if your plant is extremely dense on the interior consider cutting out some of the interior branches. This is called thinning and it will increase sunlight and air circulation to the interior of the tree/shrub.

About the Author

 

Paula M. Ezop’s inspirational column "Following the Spiritual Soul" appeared in "Oconee Today," a Scripps Howard publication. She has published her first book, "SPIRITUALITY for Mommies," and her children's chapter book, "The Adventures of Penelope Star," will be published by Wiggles Press. Ezop has a Bachelor of Arts degree from Northeastern Illinois University and has been writing for 10 years.