145 Callistemon citrinusCommon Names: lemon bottlebrush, crimson bottlebrush Family: Myrtaceae (myrtle Family)
Lemon bottlebrush is a small tree or large shrub that gets 6-12 ft (2-4 m) tall and 6-9 ft (2-3 m) wide. The leaves are narrow, lance shaped, and leathery, with a distinctly citrus aroma (thus the common name). The bright red fuzzy looking flowers are composed mostly of stamens. These are arranged radially around the stem tips in plump clusters like the bristles on one of those brushes used to clean the inside of bottles. Lemon bottlebrush blooms in early spring when it covers itself in the bright red blossoms and a few flower clusters are also produced sporadically throughout the summer. The bark is somewhat rough and light brown. Other less hardy forms of bottlebrush are available, including C. viminalis (weeping bottlebrush) and C. speciosus (showy bottlebrush). Callistemon rigidus is about equally hardy to cold with smaller flowers.
Callistemon citrinus is native to to Australia.
CultureLemon bottlebrush likes well drained soil, preferably sandy loam, but is quite adaptable. Avoid heavy soils and soggy ground. Lemon bottlebrush can take some salt spray but do not plant it too close to the tideline. If grown in the northern part of its range, expect winter kills. Protected with mulch around roots, the plant usually comes back. It may sucker up around the base Light: Bottlebrush does best in full sun. Moisture: Lemon bottlebrush thrives in average to dry soils. It is rought tolerant once established. Hardiness: USDA Zones 8 - 10. Propagation: Take cuttings from semi-ripe wood in summer. Bottlebrush can be grown with patience from seeds. Gather dried flowers and keep in them paper bags to let seeds fall; plant in spring, sowing on the soil surface).
Lemon bottlebrush is a fabulous specimen tree or shrub for a bright, sunny area. It may be used for a tropical effect in a pool side planting, or surrounded by white rock, against a light colored wall. Wherever it is placed, it should be visible either from the street or from the house so that it can be properly admired.
This is an extremely easy tree to grow. It has few pests, requires little maintenance and is drought tolerant once established. Best of all, the bright red, distinctive flowers are irresistible to hummingbirds!
Steve Christman 08/16/97; updated 5/5/06, 12/29/07