Bottle brush trees (callistemon) are native to Australia and are often used as landscaping feature trees, because of their glorious display of scarlet flowers during the summer months. Although bottle brush trees are relatively low-maintenance, they do require pruning each year to help keep them in shape. You can either do this job yourself or ask your local tree service contractor to do the work for you during their annual visit. Here are some tips on how to prune your bottle brush trees.
Pruning your bottle brush tree
- Start off by removing any new (green) wood that appears on the outside of the tree, avoiding pruning right back to the inner branches with fewer leaves. To do this, take a sharp pair of loppers and lightly trim away the new growth, avoiding any buds that are forming.
- Prune away any flower stems that have died-off to encourage the tree to bush-out. Make the cuts either half way along lateral branches or at their base.
- Take out any broken or wind-damaged branches and prune away thin, crossing ones. Don't be too concerned if this pruning leaves the tree looking a bit thin on top; although slow growing, the bottle brush tree will re-grow and fill-in the gaps over time.
- To make the plant more tree-shaped, remove the lower branches, taking out all bar three of the largest limbs at ground level. Remove any spindly sucker branches that appear around the base of the tree, as these will merely drain the main plant of nutrients. This form of pruning will encourage the central trunks to grow strong and robust.
- If you want to limit the height of the tree, take out the three or four highest branches. This crown-lowering can be challenging and you may want to ask your professional tree service contractor to do this bit for you.
- Be careful not to get carried away with pruning so that you end up leaving the tree with an excess of dead wood. Although bottle brush trees are quite amenable to a sparing tidy-up, they don't tolerate being pruned back too hard.
Bottle brush trees can make a very attractive and easy to maintain addition to your landscaping. You can either prune and trim your bottle brush trees yourself by following the guidelines given above, or ask your regular tree specialist to do the work for you if you're not confident in tackling the job yourself.