COMMON NAME: Bottlebrush
BOTANICAL NAME: Callistemon rigidus
PRONUNCIATION: kal-LIS-ta-mon ki-TREE-nus
HABIT: Showy, evergreen, red flowering shrub or small tree. It blooms in spring and sporadically through summer into fall. Long, slender, medium green leaves. It is usually a small, shrubby tree, normally getting only 10 to 15 feet tall. The dwarf form is much smaller.
CULTURE: Tolerant of most soils but needs good drainage. One way to protect bottlebrush from the heat is to plant it in a sheltered spot, with maybe only 6 to 8 hours of summer sun. Avoid the north side of the house. Hardiness range zones 8-12 but iffy some winters in zone 8.
USES: Colorful hedge or screen plant for the South. Bees absolutely love the fuzzy red flowers and the tree will be buzzing with many pollinators all summer long.
Argiope spider egg sac in a dwarf bottlebrush plant.
PROBLEMS: Freeze damage in most of Texas. Not reliably hardy above Houston. This tree is notoriously frost sensitive, usually being completely killed if temperatures get into the 20s.
NOTES: There are lots of different species, varieties, and cultivars of bottlebrush, an Australian native, so do a little research on the differences before you buy. The two most important distinguishing characteristics are size and hardiness, since dwarf cultivars and more cold tolerant species are becoming more widely available.