Bottlebrush plants are stunning and showy evergreens that add a huge burst of color in spring and summer. Originating in Australia, these attractive plants have made quite a name for themselves in tropical and subtropical regions with their flamboyant flower spikes and aromatic foliage.
Their flower spikes appear in shades of pink, purple, white, yellow, and green, as well as their most recognized shade, red. While most varieties grow best in zones 9-11, I have a few more cold-tolerant varieties to introduce you to as well. For those gardeners in zones 7-8, several species will overwinter nicely in your climates as well.
Previously, most cultivars belonged to the genus Callistemon. In recent years, they’ve been shifted into the genus Melaleuca. Many people and retailers still use the former name, so we have included both here. Here are 27 of my favorite varieties of bottlebrush plants for the garden and landscape.
The Albany bottlebrush is a compact, aromatic plant with celadon-colored leaves, known for its bird-attracting flower spikes.
We might as well start the list with a bang, and Albany is the perfect species for the job. With its upright, branching growth habit, this bottlebrush makes an excellent hedge or screen. The foliage is lovely and aromatic. The leaves are celadon-colored, long and narrow, with a rounded tip with an almost succulent quality.
Albany Bottlebrush is a compact variety, reaching about 8’ tall at maturity and not quite as wide. The flower spikes are large, about 3” wide and 6” long. Long clusters of vermillion stamens look lightly tipped with yellow pollen. If you are a bird watcher, this is a great plant for drawing birds to the garden.
The Alpine bottlebrush is well-adapted to a variety of growing conditions.
Alpine will remind you of a true evergreen shrub, which all bottlebrush plants are! The leaves are fine and almost needle-like and lightly pubescent. This species makes a great shrub with a low ground clearance and dense foliage. Encourage more branching by lightly pruning branches when the plant is young.
One of the selling points of the Alpine bottlebrush is that it is exceptionally cold-tolerant for the genus. While most bottlebrush plants are cold hardy to zone 9 or 8 at the most, Alpine can handle winters in zone 7 and tolerates boggy soil types.
The flower spikes are long with clusters of creamy white to yellow stamens. After the flowers fall, the resulting seed pods resemble pinecones, adding to the evergreen appeal.
Bracelet Honey Myrtle
Bracelet honey myrtle provides a wealth of flowers and makes a great privacy screen due to its rapid growth rate.
If you want a versatile and large bottlebrush plant with a prolific flowering habit, bracelet honey myrtle checks all the boxes. In its native Australia, this is a popular and common plant often grown as a tree or large shrub. It makes a great screen; it is quite hardy and grows quickly. As a tree, it has a slight weeping habit.
The foliage is soft, delicate, and needle-like. Bracelet honey myrtle produces long, narrow flower spikes with dense clusters of snow-white stamens with white pollen tips. This variety grows rapidly, gaining up to 3’ of new height per year. This growth tendency makes it a great screen as it fills in quickly to provide privacy.
The broad-leaved paperbark tree is a peeling-barked species with cool blue-tinted leaves.
The broad-leaved paperbark tree has some unique characteristics. It is much larger than most bottlebrush plants and grows well as a small to medium-sized tree.
It typically reaches about 30’ tall but has occasionally grown to 50’ tall. The most unique characteristic of the tree is its white, papery bark with an ornamental, peeling habit.
The leaves are ovate and simple and have a cool blue tint. The tree is not as densely flowering as many cultivars, but it flowers for an extended period, from spring through fall, and can produce blooms year round. The flower spikes are white and appear in clusters at the end of branches.
‘Captain Cook’ is a compact shrubby plant with small leaves and red stamen-covered flower spikes.
This rather shrubby variety stays a very manageable size, reaching only about 5’ tall and wide. A grouping of ‘Captain Cook’ plants makes a very nice low hedge or screen with dense branches and a slight weeping habit.
You can train it into a small tree, but the clearance is typically only a foot or two from the ground, even when you trim the bottom branches away. Removing more than that will leave a sad-looking plant that lacks density.
The leaves are small and narrow but densely arranged on branches, which can be encouraged with early pruning. This nice, compact variety fits well into smaller spaces. The flower spikes are full-sized at about 6” long and covered in loose clusters of bright red stamens. The stamens have a light brushing of yellow on the tips.
This popular bonsai species has copper-hued foliage and compact red and yellow-tipped flower spikes.
Cliff bottlebrush is the most used species for creating a bottlebrush bonsai. It matures to about 5-10’ tall and wide at full size, making it a nice, large shrub. The leaves are narrow and elliptical, and when the foliage is young, it appears to have a copper hue before maturing to a lovely jade tone.
The size of this cultivar makes it a nice container plant, and it has moderately good frost tolerance. The flower spikes are compact at 4” long and have long, loose clusters of red stamens with yellow tips. The flowers are lightly fragrant.
This is a significant paperbark species in Australia with peeling bark.
Firebark is a paperbark species with peeling bark in shades of white, grey, brown, or cream. One of the larger species, Melaleuca nervosa has many uses. Depending on the variety, the tree can reach heights of up to 50’ tall, with leaves ranging from one to six inches long.
This large bottlebrush tree needs some space. In addition to its unique peeling bark, its flowers are also uncommon among the bottlebrush family. The mid-sized flower spikes range from a pale yellow to a bright green. The leaves are gray-green. Fine, white hairs cover new growth.
Gold-tipped bottlebrush is a dense, round privacy hedge option.
This midsized variety makes a wonderful privacy hedge. At a mature height of 10’ with a spread of about 8’, the dense foliage of gold-tipped bottlebrush flowers from winter through summer and occasionally year-round. The round growth habit requires little shaping except deadheading to encourage new branching and blooming.
The flower spikes this cultivar produces are short (3”) and made up of clusters of short red stamens with golden pollen tips. The foliage is gray-green and made up of narrow ovate to lanceolate leaves.
This variety can grow in colder climates and has bright green flowers. Image Credit: “Melaleuca flavovirens” by quinkin via iNaturalist is licensed under CC BY-NC 4.0.
Green bottlebrush falls into the category of bottlebrush plants with better cold hardiness. Gardeners as far north as zone 7 can grow this species outdoors with no threat of frost damage. The Tasmanian native has foliage that resembles an olive tree and bright green stems.
This extra sturdy species is best known for its flower spikes, covered in dense clusters of lime green stamens with yellow tips. It makes a great shrub for those in cooler climates but can also thrive in hot weather.
The Kingaroy variety is a large shrub with narrow, lanceolate leaves that start as rose pink and turn green.
Another light-flowered variety, ‘Kingaroy’ is a great, large, shrubby variety with narrow leaves arranged in an opposite spiraling formation. This foliage is slightly hairy and rose pink when it is young and ages to a deeper green. The leaves are lanceolate, narrower than most species, and pointed rather than rounded.
‘Kingaroy’ makes a wonderful tall hedge reaching nearly 20’ tall with a 12’ spread at maturity. It can be trained into a small tree as well. The flower spikes are large with clusters of cream-colored, gold-tipped stamens.
Lemon bottlebrush is an appealing shrub or tree with silver-green foliage and mid-sized flower spikes with yellow stamens.
The upright growth habit and long blooming season are attractive traits of the lemon bottlebrush. It makes an excellent large shrub or tree with dense, colorful foliage that is silvery when young and tender and which takes on a bright green hue in maturity.
The lemon bottlebrush’s flower spikes are mid-sized and upward-pointing. Its clusters of stamens are dense and long, and the spikes tend to be as wide as they are long. The stamens are usually yellow with gold tips but can sometimes appear pale pink.
The lesser bottlebrush features striking deep scarlet flower spikes with dense stamen clusters.
Lesser doesn’t quite seem the right name for this variety, but the botanical name phoenicia refers to the deep red-violet tone of the flower spikes on this pretty plant. These deep scarlet blooms are one of the darkest reds of the bottlebrushes. The clusters of stamens this plant produces are dense, with an average of 34-39 stamens per flower, impressive!
The lesser bottlebrush has a slightly weeping growth habit. Its flower spikes hang downward and are surrounded by attractive leaves. The leaves are long, thin, and lanceolate and look very similar to the weeping bottlebrush.
Another bottlebrush variety with green blooms is the lime bottlebrush. Image Credit: “Melaleuca virens – Lime Bottlebrush” by Bill Higham via Flickr is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.
Lime bottlebrush is another native of Tasmania, one of six species. It is a small to medium species with a shrubby habit and leathery lanceolate leaves. The leaves are long and occasionally curved.
This variety reaches about 10′ at maturity, making it a wonderful privacy hedge candidate. The flower spikes are small, occurring at the ends of branches, which continue to grow after they bloom. Clusters of cream-colored to lime-green stamens have yellow tips and occur in groups of 19 to 36 per flower.
This eye-catching variety has dense branching, blue-green leaves, and vibrant crimson flower clusters.
‘Little John’ is a very flashy and attractive dwarf variety of the viminalis species. It is slow growing with a final size of 3′ tall with a 5′ spread. It has a beautiful densely branched growth habit, which makes it a lovely border or small garden focal point.
The variety has not only dense branches but leaves as well. The blue-green leaves are arranged in a loose rosette and are long and ovate. The flower clusters are bright, crimson, and large compared to the size of the plant. ‘Little John’ makes up for its small size with a big personality.
‘Mauve Mist’ is an ideal shrub for hedges and windbreaks, with beautiful long flower spikes.
The perfect bottlebrush might be ‘Mauve Mist.’ With a height and spread between six and 12′, it makes a perfect hedge windbreak or privacy screen. Early pruning will help give this graceful shrub a denser appearance by encouraging branching.
This variety has truly stunning flower spikes. The long clusters appear at the end of arching branches and are 4 inches or longer. Dense clusters of pinkish-purple stamens are lightly tipped with gold.
The narrow-leaved bottlebrush is a shrub with aromatic leaves and scarlet flower spikes.
Another winner of the Award of Garden Merit from the Royal Horticultural Society, the narrow-leaved bottlebrush is a small to medium-sized shrub with narrow and delicate aromatic leaves on lightly weeping branches. It can be trained into a small tree, which showcases the weeping habit and makes for a graceful plant.
The delicate green foliage is a wonderful compliment to the scarlet flower spikes. These spikes are 4” long with dense clusters of the brightest red stamens with deep red tips. This species prefers a bit more moisture and tolerates wet soil better.
This aromatic shrub has long, thin leaves resembling pine needles.
Needle bottlebrush takes its name from its leaves, which are very long and thin with pointed ends. The foliage resembles beautiful pine trees and is aromatic when crushed. As with most species, early pruning will encourage branching to give this shrub a denser appearance.
With a final height of around 8’ and a spread of 12’, the needle bottlebrush makes a wonderful shrub. The flower spikes occur a few inches before the end of each branch, showcasing dense clusters of long, red stamens with yellow tips.
The stunning blooms of ‘Perth Pink’ are abundant in spring.
‘Perth Pink’ is a close relative of ‘Mauve Mist’ and has a very similar appeal. It makes a perfect low hedge with a final height and spread of 5′. It makes it an excellent focal point in the garden as well.
The foliage is lime green, narrow, and lanceolate. This variety blooms prolifically in spring, showing off masses of bubblegum pink clusters of stamens on 4 to 5-inch flower spikes. This variety is a heat lover and not cold-tolerant.
The prickly bottlebrush is a popular, easy-to-grow plant with flashy flowers and a weeping habit.
Easy to grow with flashy flowers and a final size of 12′ tall with a 12′ spread, the prickly bottlebrush is easy to grow and quite popular. Named for its needle-like, stiff, pointed leaves, this species has a slight weeping habit.
Prickly bottlebrush has very flashy flower spikes. Although not long, the dense clusters of stamens are brilliant red with large amounts of bright yellow pollen at the tips. This is a highly ornamental and low-maintenance cultivar.
The scarlet bottlebrush is a tall, upright shrub bearing dense clusters of crimson stamens with yellow pollen-tipped spikes.
Scarlet bottlebrush has an upright growth habit topping out around 20′, which makes it perfect to train into a small tree. The branches have an open habit, making this species less desirable as a privacy screen.
This is another species with a true evergreen feel. The short, stiff, pointed leaves resemble a pine and grow outward toward the tips of branches. The flower spikes are mid-sized, with very dense clusters of crimson stamens that have a light sprinkling of yellow pollen at the tips.
This striking bottlebrush variety grows up to 25’ tall and produces lemony-scented leaves.
‘Splendens’ is an award-winning, versatile shrub or small tree. The Award of Garden Merit from the Royal Horticultural Society ensures that this cultivar will perform well and draw admiration as long as it gets the proper care.
It can be grown as a small to medium shrub or trained as a small tree, as it will grow up to 25’ tall this way, but it can also be trained to remain smaller, as a shrub of 5-15’ tall and wide.
The foliage comes in coppery before turning gray-green. The leaves are small and ovate and have a lemony scent when bruised. The flower spikes are large and feature dense clusters of yellow-tipped, scarlet stamens.
This bottlebrush variety is a versatile coastal shrub with upright growth and vibrant flower spikes.
Stiff bottlebrush is a medium-sized species. It can easily be trained to be a small tree or kept to a more manageable 10′ tall and wide as a large shrub.
It can be kept as a root hardy perennial shrub in cooler climates, growing 3-5’ in a season. This variety is very tolerant of salt and makes a great coastal shrub.
The species tends to have an upright growth habit with just a slight bit of weeping toward the end of the branches, more so when flowers are present. The flower spikes are short and wide, with dense clusters of long, bright red stamens with just a touch of yellow at the tips.
‘Violaceous’ transforms from leggy growth to a beautiful multi-trunk tree.
‘Violaceous’ is a very ornamental variety that makes a wonderful addition to a container garden. It has a bit of a leggy, thin growth habit in the first year or two. Fortunately, it matures into a lovely multi-trunk tree with a rounded canopy.
This is a winter-blooming variety that’s typically finished blooming by summertime. The flower spikes are long and covered in densely clustered fuchsia stamens. If you love pink flowers, this is a gorgeous specimen when it matures.
The beauty of the weeping bottlebrush tree lies in its compact, graceful growth with willow-like foliage and red flower spikes.
This might be my favorite bottlebrush. When you see it, I think you will understand why. It resembles a compact weeping willing in all the best ways. It has a graceful growth habit and a spread nearly as wide as the tree is tall.
The foliage is reminiscent of a willow as well. They are small and ovate with tops in shiny bright green and a more matte back with a grey-green tint. The long, elegant weeping branches are well balanced, making this a beautiful, shapely tree.
The flowers are the icing on the cake. Bright red flower spikes occur just before the ends of branches. When this tree is in bloom and abuzz with pollinators, it is a sight for sore eyes.
This variety is a low-growing, reliable bloomer with attractive bluish-green leaves.
‘White Anzac’ is a low-growing, reliable bloomer. It makes an attractive, sprawling hedge with a mature height of 4’ and a spread of up to 12’.
Like most cultivars, this one can tolerate a range of soil types and is tolerant of coastal and urban conditions. It is also more tolerant of partial shade than most bottlebrush plants.
The leaves are narrowly ovate and bluish-green, with ends that are not quite rounded but not pointed either. The flower spikes are significant, from 4-6” long, and covered in dense clusters of white stamens with yellow tips giving them a warm quality.
The white bottlebrush plant can be trained into a small tree with white flowers and an extensive root system.
This species will draw plenty of wildlife to the garden, including butterflies, bees, and many birds. It has an upright growth habit and is naturally shrubby but can be trained into a small tree with a mature height of up to 25’.
A winner of the Award of Garden Merit from the Royal Horticultural Society speaks for the plant’s value as an ornamental. White bottlebrush has an extensive spreading root system, so it should not be planted within 30’ of your home’s foundation or any other paving.
The tree has white, papery bark and narrow, lanceolate leaves. As the name implies, the flowers are white, with delicate clusters of stamens.
‘Woodlander’s Hardy’ is a compact, cold-resistant plant with delicate evergreen foliage and vibrant blooming suitable for Zones 7-8 gardens.
If you’re living in zones 7-8, this species will overwinter exceptionally well in your cooler climate. ‘Woodlander’s Hardy’ can survive temperatures down to and sometimes exceeding 10°F. It’s a smaller variety, with a height and spread of only 3’-5’ at maturity. This makes it a wonderful focal point, small background, or foundational plant in the garden.
‘Woodlander’s Hardy’ has evergreen foliage that is delicate and nearly needle-like. It is a big bloomer, beginning in late spring and lasting through the summer. The flower spikes are long and slender, with loose clusters of fine red stamens lightly tipped with yellow pollen.
Bottlebrush plants add color, texture, and interest to the garden. Their copious nectar supply also serves as a valuable pollinator food source, and birds love their seeds in the fall.
You can’t go wrong adding this fun and unique plant to your landscape. With their versatility and tolerance to soil types and conditions, bottlebrush plants are sturdy, low-maintenance, flowering evergreens.