Dwarf Bottlebrush Varieties to Grow in Your Garden 

Growing a bottlebrush or two in your garden is one of the delights of gardening in Australia. Not only are these plants extremely hardy and suitable for most local conditions, but they also delight us with their outstanding blooms for many months of the year.

My favourite benefit of growing bottlebrush varieties is that these plants attract a lot of native birds.

This can give you hours of pleasure as you watch the birds flit around your Callistemon gathering nectar from the flowers.

But, if you have limited space, you might be wondering whether there are dwarf bottlebrush varieties that you can grow.

Well, I’m here to tell you that there definitely are some excellent dwarf varieties that will work for you, and below I’m going to run through my favourites.

Callistemon viminalis ‘Little John’

This is probably the most well-known dwarf bottlebrush variety and has been grown by Australian gardeners around the country for many, many years. 

I’ve grown this in the past and it’s such a hardy plant. It will only grow to a height of 1 metre and a spread of around 1.5 metres.

The foliage is quite dense and blue to green in colour. The flowers are a brilliant red and will cover the small shrub in profusion. 

You can grow ‘Little John’ in full sun or part shade but you’ll get more flowers if you plant it in a sunny spot in the garden.

Some gardeners even grow this plant as a low-hedge and it’s ideal for growing in a large pot. To increase the amount of flowers, make sure that you prune your plant after it has finished blooming.

Just cut back each of the flowering branches to just behind the spent flower head.

Some gardeners have found that this cultivar can be reluctant to flower which is why newer varieties have been bred to overcome this problem.

Callistemon viminalis ‘Better John’

‘Better John’ is a more recent cultivar that is even easier to grow and has excellent foliage colour. The foliage has the same soft and hairy texture as ‘Little John’. 

This cultivar will grow to a height of 1.2 metres and a spread of around 90 cm. It also has the bright red bottlebrush flowers. These start to appear around mid-spring.

‘Better John’ can be grown in most Australian states and is both drought and cold-tolerant once established.

Callistemon viminalis ‘Green John’

This is another similar cultivar that displays lime green new foliage. This deepens to a darker green as the leaves mature. 

It has a compact growth habit and will only grow to a height of 1 metre with a spread of 60 cm. This plant also has pretty red bottlebrush flowers.

Like its cousins, ‘Green John’ is also drought tolerant and can handle moderate frosts.

Callistemon ‘Great Balls of Fire’

This is a compact bottlebrush that has the most outstanding foliage. It’s grown primarily for its colourful foliage rather than for its flowers.

New growth on this plant can be bright pink to red and turns green as it matures. This can add a tremendous splash of colour to your garden. Especially if you grow this plant as a small hedge.

The plant can reach a height of 3 metres but regular pruning can keep it compact to around 1 metre in height and width. 

It will grow in most parts of the country, even in humid tropical regions. Although it’s quite drought tolerant, it does prefer a good soaking during periods of dry weather.

This is one Callistemon that can be cut back quite hard as it has numerous dormant buds on its stems.

Callistemon ‘White Anzac’

This is another compact bottlebrush that will only reach a maximum height of 1.5 metres. However, it can spread to a width of 3 metres.

It has the prettiest creamy white flowers in spring and summer. Nectar-feeding birds love the flowers on this bottlebrush and will flock to your garden if you grow this cultivar.

In order to keep the bush compact and stop it from becoming too straggly, make sure that you prune it every year after it has finished flowering.


Where is the best place to plant a bottlebrush?

If you want your bottlebrush to produce lots of flowers, plant it in a sunny spot in your garden. Although this plant can handle growing in semi-shaded spots, this will reduce flowering.

Are bottlebrush roots invasive?

No, bottlebrushes do not have an invasive root system and can safely be planted anywhere in your garden.

Do bottlebrushes like full sun or shade?

Bottlebrushes do prefer to grow in full sun but they can handle part shade as well. However, don’t expect as many flowers if you plant a bottlebrush in a shady spot.

Photo of author

Annette Hird

Annette Hird is a gardening expert with many years of experience in a range of gardening related positions. She has an Associate Diploma of Applied Science in Horticulture and has worked in a variety of production nurseries, primarily as a propagator. She has also been responsible for a large homestead garden that included lawn care, fruit trees, roses and many other ornamental plants. More recently, Annette has concentrated on improving the garden landscape of the homes that she has lived in and focused a lot of energy on growing edible plants as well. She now enjoys sharing her experience and knowledge with others by writing articles about all facets of gardening and growing plants.


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