Wednesday, July 13, 2011


I recently read that the genus Callistemon has been combined with the genus Melaleuca. Since I simply love the word Callistemon I hope this doesn’t affect the frequency with which I get to read it on plant tags. Don’t you just adore their bottle-brush blooms? Much like an Agave bloom they are just so foreign and fabulous to me, I could stare at them for hours. In fact I have been staring at them a lot lately because they are blooming in my garden. This is the first year for both of my ‘Woodlander's Hardy Red' to bloom. This one has been in the ground for 3 years… And this one was planted last summer, after I pried its roots out of the ground at Fry Road Nursery and paid a whole $1.98 for it! Let me repeat that…$1.98…one of the big mysteries of my gardening “career” is why I only bought one of them. I’ve done nothing to protect either of these…they truly are hardy here in Portland; if you want to plant a Callistemon I can whole heartedly recommend ‘Woodlander's Hardy Red.' This is the second year for my Callistemon ‘Clemson’ to bloom, it’s nestled up next to a variegated Echium in this image. This one isn’t as winter hardy as ‘Woodlanders,’ at least in my garden. I’ve wrapped it 2 years in a row (when the temperatures dip) and still suffered a little leaf die back. The blooms are almost identical to ‘Woodlanders’ but the leaves are a little larger.

I’m still waiting to see a bloom on the Callistemon ‘viridiflorus’ they will be a yellowish green. This plant has been in the ground for a little over a year. I couldn’t help but throw a bit of burlap around it a couple of times last winter but I don’t think I needed to. I planted another ‘viridiflorus’ in the front garden earlier this spring. Along with a Callistemon sieberi, when it blooms they will be a light yellow. Finally the newest (that’s seven if you’re counting) is Callistemon pallidus 'Blue Foliage’ Since the tag specifically said “Best in a protected location” I’m a little worried about how it will fare through the winter, but heck nothing ventured nothing gained right?


  1. AnonymousJuly 13, 2011

    What a marvelous collection. Thanks for sharing it in the lovely photos.

  2. I have an irrational dislike for the plants that we had in my childhood yard, mostly because the yard was very neglected. Calla lillies, bottle-brush, and Lily of the Nile were all at the top of that list. A coworker cured me of my calla lily hatred by bringing me cut flowers in a vase; I think you just cured me of my bottle-brush hatred. So pretty!

  3. Really jealous ... I've killed so many. I still have a dead one in the ground, as if it might come back.
    Last one standing is Sieberi. What is your secret?

  4. $1.98? I am flummoxed.

    I had my eye on a Woodlanders at work, and even with my discount it was dear. Then the next thing I knew they were all gone.

  5. I love Callistemon and you are lucky to have so many. I can't get a plant here.

  6. Patricia, thank you!

    Heather, yay! You made my day..glad to hear it. I do understand disliking neglected plants from your youth but I am so glad to hear that I may have changed your mind!

    linda, remind me, have you grown Woodlanders? That may be my secret, plus the fact that the others (up until now) have been planted in fairly protected areas in the back garden. This winter will be the test for the newbies in the front garden.

    Les, I know!!! The nursery that I bought it at hadn't potted them up from the tiny little plastic cell packs they had been started in. So the price was based on the size of the root mass, which was tiny, not the size of the plant. I think part of my hesitation to buy more was the fact that I feared death in the garden do to it being held root captive for so long.

    Nicole, you have agaves discarded by the roadside but can't buy a Callistemon?

  7. The hot new little shrublet around here is Callistemon 'Little John', and it's a cutie. I wonder if that would be hardy for you--though probably not, 20-25F.

    Like Heather I have childhood memories of what we called "bottle brush", but happy ones. I always liked the red color of the flowers.

  8. My Callistemon viridiflorus has yet to bloom, too, but it sailed through the past winter with no protection, much to my relief. I had to move it this spring, and I have my fingers crossed it takes the move in stride. It's certainly looking happy, robust and somewhat larger. I do want to get a red one: Woodlander's Hardy Red and Clemson look perfect, but Woodlander's Red would probably be more likely to suffer my lack of winter protection.


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