Caring for Cylinder Brushes — Callistemon tips and tricks

Bottlebrush belongs to the Callistemon genus, which is botanically part of the myrtle family. The plants convince with beautiful flowers in a fascinating shape. The fine stamens are reminiscent of a brush. T he leathery leaves allow conclusions to be drawn about the origin and demands on care. Above all, the carmine cylinder brush is popular as a terrace plant and can become very old if it is wintered frost-free.

Useful information LocationWatering Fertilizing Pruning Repotting OverwinteringPests & Diseases FAQ

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Interesting facts about bottle brushes

Botanical name: Callistemon citrinus (common species)
Other names: cylinder brush, bottle brush, bottle brush, pipe cleaner, bottle brush, crimson cylinder brush
Use: Mediterranean plant for terrace, balcony, garden and conservatory, container plant
Origin: Australia
Flower colours: April to October, flowers come at intervals
Flowering time: bright red, rarely white
Special features:When the leaves are crushed, a lemon scent unfolds, hence the botanical name Callistemon citrinus. It is important that you cut carefully. The flowers are formed on the one-year-old wood and severe pruning can result in the pile failing. The foliage is evergreen and does not shed.

Which location does Callistemon feel most comfortable in?

A sunny and warm outdoor location is ideal from May to September. Warm places near walls or house walls are ideal, here the Mediterranean plants are protected from drafts and benefit from the nocturnal heat emission. In the fall, it is important to move to the winter quarters early. From October to April you should place the tub in a bright, frost-free place with temperatures of 5 to 10 degrees Celsius. During warmer hibernation, it is important that as much light as possible is available. A dark location in winter is not suitable. Planting out in the winter garden is possible, but the abundance of flowers outdoors is significantly more lush than in a sheltered room.

How do I water my bottle cleaner properly?

Bottlebrushes require a steady water supply. It is important to know that water with as little lime as possible should be used. Rainwater is optimal because the genus Callistemon is very sensitive to lime. Especially in the summer months, make sure that the soil never dries out completely. How often you should water depends on air temperature, sunlight exposure, root ball size, and plant growth. In the winter months, the water requirement is greatly reduced.

Our gardening tip: Regular spraying of the leaves with low-lime water increases the humidity and thus increases the vitality of the plant.

How do I fertilize my Callistemon citrinus properly?

From April, fertilize your pipe cleaner every second or third watering with liquid flower fertilizer with guano. This special fertilizer is specially tailored to the needs of balcony plants and contains vitalizing humic substances in addition to minerals and trace elements. These improve metabolism and promote nutrient absorption. Alternatively, granulated tub plant fertilizer can also be used. From September you can stop fertilizing.

How do I cut my bottle cleaner?

The pruning of the pipe cleaner bush requires a certain amount of finesse. The genus tolerates pruning well, but if it is pruned too late or severely, it can happen that there are no flowers in the coming year. Therefore, cut just below the withered inflorescence immediately after flowering. You should also thin out or prune the plant regularly for compact and branched growth. Use scissors to remove the shoot tips. Younger plants in particular need this care measure for crown formation. In their homeland, Callistemon grow into trees that can reach heights of up to 4 meters.

Our tip: Avoid severe pruning in autumn. You could cut off flower buds in the process. Dry leaves on older plants are a natural process and nothing to worry about. Remove these regularly.

How do I repot my cylinder brush?

It is best if you repot the exotic plant every 2 to 3 years. Use high-quality potting soil that is structurally stable and thus offers the best conditions for the bottle cleaner. The pH should be 5 to 6.5. Choose a pot that is 5 to 10 cm larger and first fill in expanded clay drainage to prevent harmful waterlogging. The best time to repot is early spring. With increasing light supply, the Callistemon is stimulated to grow and quickly establishes itself in the new soil.

How do I overwinter my bottle cleaner?

From September you should put the Callistemon in a bright, frost-free winter quarters. Temperatures of 5 to 10° C are ideal. If the plant is too warm, it comes to the formation of so-called Geiltriebe. These are long, thin and unstable. A dark hibernation is completely unsuitable. Basically, the warmer the cylinder brush is, the more light is needed. If the conditions are not right, the leaves may drop more often. After winter, gradual acclimatization to outdoor conditions is important. Make sure that the evergreen plant is not placed directly in the garden, but is first protected from sun and rain.

What pests and diseases can Callistemin get?

With the right site conditions and care , the plants are robust and have an incomparable flair. Yellow leaves can be the result of drought. In the winter quarters, infestation by scale insects can sometimes occur.

scale insects

There are brown, slightly curved knobs, especially in the leaf axils. The pests are safely hidden under these protective shields and are therefore difficult to combat. As soon as you discover the infestation, you should wipe off the scale insects or cut back the plant. The pests can be controlled biologically with oil-based agents. It is important that the application is carried out several times.


FAQ — Frequently asked questions about Callistemon

Are there other ornamental species in the genus Callistemon?

In addition to Callistemon citrinus, the willow-leaved cylinder brush (Callistemon salignus) is also cultivated in horticulture. What is striking about this Myrtaceae are the very narrow foliage and the light yellow inflorescences. These exotic plants also flower at intervals and must be frost-free in winter. Another variety is the mourning cylinder brush (Callistemon viminalis). The flowers are crimson and the overhanging growth makes the shrub suitable as a standard or specimen plant.

How does cylinder brush reproduction occur?

A common method is the propagation of cuttings. For this purpose, young shoots are cut in May and placed in substrate. With a bit of luck, rooting takes place within a few weeks, similar to house plants. Ensure even soil moisture and temperature. The exotic species can also be propagated by seeds, but this requires some patience. The fine seeds sometimes need up to 3 months to germinate.

Why don’t my pipe cleaners bloom?

The absence of a flower can have different causes. In addition to improper pruning, the lack of fertilizer or the wrong location can be to blame.

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