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Try something new

March 15, 2019
By H.I. JEAN SHIELDS - Garden Club of Cape Coral ( , Cape Coral Daily Breeze

When does a bush become a tree? A bush becoming a tree will depend on you and your pruning skills.

I am seeing a few nice Callistemon viminalis around town right now, and they all seem to have been trimmed into a weeping mass of green dotted by fat red dangling flowers.

The beautiful pendulous flowers are elegant in appearance from afar and unusual close up as you realize they are not an actual flower but a tight mass of single stamens bunched together into a Mother Nature form of a large bottlebrush.

No scent, but certainly original. These bottlebrush beauties bloom from March to July. The more sun the better. They bloom and they will actually bloom off and on after their July deadline.

The bottlebrush is actually a large bush that can be trimmed into an evergreen, multi or even a single trunk tree. A native of Australia, the tree will be about 15 to 20 feet high and just about as wide.

It is not considered a brittle tree but good pruning will add to its beauty and strength.

The first home we lived in already had a tree about 5 or 6 feet and was already trimmed well to be a multi-trunk. Grown as a big fat bush, it would not seem as tropical and airy.

You may have to visit a nursery to find one, although I have read that one of the big box stores carries a few.

Propagation would be by seeds or a cutting and really take time.

I see them now in older neighborhoods, meaning they were a popular choice during the early days of Cape Coral growth.

Ours came through Hurricane Charley just fine, however it was growing right along side of the house and was somewhat protected.

It is pretty much drought tolerant and tolerated the sprinkler system, which was well water, not city water. The tree can have a root rot problem with too much water but does OK in clay, sand or nice loam. Moderately salt tolerant.

We had a freshwater lake which did not spray much water around, unless a stray Jet Skier spent the weekend.

The tree never had any pest problems, however it might, setting in the sun all day without good air circulation.

The bottlebrush tree is good for parking lots, with some moderate trimming to allow people and car traffic, or a wide median. A nice front yard specimen, it will tolerate afternoon shade but may not bloom as often.

Picking a bloom for the house is great or even entering a sturdy, although fluffy, bloom in a vase with a tiny bit of water to be judged in a flower show always wins a blue ribbon.

Try one and be a little different than the neighbors.

Don't forget St. Patrick's Day is coming up. Lots of green things for gardeners to plant, not to drink ,of course.

Getting time for another round of veggie planting.


I would like to thank all of the sponsors, visitors and volunteers who worked at the Garden Club event March In The Park. We did well, and it's always nice to be at Jaycee Park along the Caloosahatchee. We had loyal vendors and garden related crafters. See you next year.

Happy gardening till we meet again.

H.I. Jean Shields is Past President of the Garden Club of Cape Coral.



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