Pruning Bottlebrush: When And How To Prune Bottlebrush Plants

bottlebrush shrub
bottlebrush shrub
(Image credit: snigl3t)

For the best appearance and the most abundant blooms, learning how to prune bottlebrush plants is an important part of bottlebrush care. Learning when to prune bottlebrush is important too. 

If you continue pruning bottlebrush too long into the season, you can instigate winter damage and even eliminate blooms for the next year. We'll answer the questions of when to prune bottlebrush and just how far can you prune a bottlebrush shrub. Y

ou'll be pleased to learn that the attractive blooms respond well to correct pruning. For those who aren't familiar with what a bottlebrush plant is, a brief description is in order here. These are of the Callistemon genus. Bottlebrush type blooms can be 4 inches (10 cm.) around and 12 inches (31 cm.) long. 

Bottlebrush pruning varies with the family and, of course, the particular plant. Bottlebrush plants are native to Australia with various cultivars that vary in size.

Bottlebrush Pruning for Health

Bottlebrush pruning that helps plants to maintain good health should be looked at in spring and late summer. Pruning bottlebrush should be lighter than the average gardener may be accustomed to. 

Interior branches should be removed if damaged or diseased, and thinned only lightly if inner growth is turning brown from lack of sun. Lightly thin out the branches so more sunlight can reach the inside of the plant. 

Pruning bottlebrush will include removal of suckers growing from the roots as they appear. Also remove forking or crossing branches. Pruning bottlebrush, or most any shrub, diverts energy to flowers that are forming. If this is your goal when pruning bottlebrush, follow these simple tips:

  • Prune bottlebrush when flowers fade. This is usually a safe time for pruning shrubs to guarantee that future blooms aren't damaged.
  • This shrub can be pruned at a node shortly below the tip of the stem. How far can you prune a bottlebrush shrub? The answer is keep it minimal, and try to only clip a couple of inches (5 cm.) below the tips.
  • This shrub looks best in its natural shape, though it is often pruned into a tree form with an umbrella shaped top. Don't make a meatball out of bottlebrush.

How to Prune Bottlebrush Plants for Size

When doing an overall bottlebrush pruning, for shape or to reduce the height, choose early spring before flowers begin forming. Prune stems individually, taking them off above a node to get the desired height. To avoid this aspect of bottlebrush pruning, choose shrubs that grow no taller than the space you've allowed for them. When attempting to grow a bottlebrush in a small space, it's best to choose a dwarf variety.

Becca Badgett

Becca Badgett was a regular contributor to Gardening Know How for ten years. Co-author of the book How to Grow an EMERGENCY Garden, Becca specializes in succulent and cactus gardening.