How to Prune Bottle Brush Trees

Written by barbara stanley
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How to Prune Bottle Brush Trees
The flowers of the Callistemon tree resemble bottle brushes when fully opened. (bottlebrush tree 3. image by mdb from Fotolia.com)

The evergreen bottle brush tree is one of 34 species in the Callistemon genus, according to the Australian National Botanic Gardens. The bottle brush tree grows best in warm climates and is cold hardy in zones 9 through 11 in the U.S. The bottlebrush, as it is known in Australia, can grow as tall as 15 feet with a spread of up to 15 feet. When pruned of spent flowers, the bottlebrush resembles the weeping willow tree.

Skill level:
Moderate

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Things you need

  • Hedge clippers
  • Pruning shears
  • Wheelbarrow
  • Garden gloves

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Pruning the bottle brush tree is usually done for one of two reasons--to encourage the tree to reflower, or to provide clearance beneath the canopy. Decide how much of the branches will be removed by viewing the tree from a distance.

    How to Prune Bottle Brush Trees
    The bottle brush tree blooms in spring and again in the summer. (bottlebrush tree 4. image by mdb from Fotolia.com)
  2. 2

    Trimming the tree in the fall after the tree has finished blooming is the best time to prune. Hold the spent flower in one hand and follow the branch back to a node (place where one branch connects). Cut close to the node with either the hedge clippers or pruning shears, depending upon the diameter of the branch to be cut.

    How to Prune Bottle Brush Trees
    The best flowering occurs when the tree is pruned after flowering. (Grevillea tree image by Jan Ebling from Fotolia.com)
  3. 3

    Cut more of the branch if it hangs too low, is mangled, or is needed to shape the tree. Cut close to a node on the branch, up to one-third the length of the branch.

    How to Prune Bottle Brush Trees
    Severe pruning may be needed when the tree is damaged. (Maison au toit rouge et arbre élagué. Marseilles, France. image by Blue Moon from Fotolia.com)
  4. 4

    Prune older trees, in bad shape, back to ground level, if needed, to encourage new growth and blooms.

  5. 5

    Load all limbs and branch trimmings into the wheelbarrow for disposal. Use a wood chipper to make mulch or dispose according to your local ordinances.

Tips and warnings

  • Cut off old flowers and seed pods back to the green leaves to encourage the summer blooms.
  • The bottle brush tree flowers with new growth. Pruning the new growth in the spring will mean sacrificing the summer blooms.

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