Callistemon viminalis ‘Captain Cook’ Bottlebrush – There are about twenty species in the genus Callistemon, all woody evergreen shrubs ranging from 50cm to 4m tall with spectacular flowers that are pollinated by birds in the wild. Until recently considered half-hardy and grown as conservatory plants in the British Isles, they deserve to be tried outside more often. Many species will take a fair amount of frost, especially if protected from the prevailing winds by a wall or hedge. In their first year out, young plants should be protected with horticultural fleece or something similar. Once established they will tolerate drought and limited maintenance. They grow well in a wide variety of soils except strongly alkaline. Callistemons grown in full sun produce the best flowers.
The flower spikes of Callistemon are made up of a large number of individual flowers tightly packed together. The pollen of the flower forms on the tip of a long, coloured stalks called a filaments It is these filaments that give the flower spike its colour and distinctive shape. The filaments are usually red or yellow and sometimes the pollen also adds a bright yellow flush to the flower spikes which are usually produced from spring to summer. If you are concerned about hardiness in your area, bottlebrushes can be grown in tubs and containers that can be brought under cover in winter.
There are quite a few forms that are now readily available to buy that are all worth trying in a sheltered corner of the garden. Thompson and Morgan have a rather attractive form with typical red blooms named Callistemon viminalis ‘Captain Cook’. It also makes a good container plant.
Australia and Tasmania
Common Name: Bottlebrush
Latin name: Callistemon viminalis ‘Captain Cook’ Bottlebrush
Tenderness Rating: Most are hardy down to about -8c for short periods especially if protected with horticultural fleece.
Ease of growing: Easy
Position: Full sun in a sheltered corner away form desiccation winds
Soil Condition: Well drain neutral soil that is not alkaline
Buy Callistemon viminalis ‘Captain Cook’ Bottlebrush