Callistemon: care of the plant also called Pipe cleaner

Perhaps because of the botanical name you do not know what plant we are talking about, but it is enough to see it to realize that we know it. Due to the beauty of the Callistemon and its simple care, it is one of the most used shrubs both for gardens and for public green spaces. And it is perfectly logical: it is undemanding, easy to grow and, in flowering time, it is extremely beautiful. To all this we must add something that we are usually unaware of: it is a perfect choice if we consider how to attract pollinating insects to the garden. Having it among our plants is synonymous with listening to the buzz of bees and bumblebees, for whom the nectar of its flowers is a delicious snack.

Before seeing in detail the care of the Callistemon, it is worth knowing some peculiarities of this shrub, also called Pipe cleaner and brush tree, which became a true essential in English gardens in the 18th century. His natural origins are literally the opposite of the country that fell in love with him. It comes from Australia: something that gives us a clue as to how resistant Callistemon is to heat and drought; and that make it an ideal candidate if we delve into how to make a Mediterranean garden. And not only to plant it directly in the ground: the Cleaner lives perfectly, too, in good-sized pots. Something that should be known if we have a terrace and want to enjoy it.

For all this, let’s see what the Callistemon demands and what its care is to fill any space with its unique color.


Apart from their singularities, it is convenient to know in depth some important aspects of these plants. The first of all is that, with the right conditions, it is a fast-growing shrub that can reach between two and three meters in height in a short period of time. Something that often causes it to be mistaken for a tree. For this reason, and although it can be planted individually, it is also usually on the list of fast-growing shrubs for fences.. Given its development, it is important to choose the planting site carefully, considering the height and diameter that it can have as an adult. If we grow it in a pot, the Callistemon will also grow briskly. But yes: it will never reach the same size as planted directly in the ground.

Know the care of the Callistemon, and find the ideal one for your garden in our section of flowering shrubs

Beyond this detail and the uniqueness of its flowering, which occurs in spring and autumn; It is worth knowing that the Pipe Cleaner is a perennial shrub. Its leaves are similar to those of the olive tree, with a characteristic green tone and elongated character. But it is not the only peculiarity: in addition, they have a subtle perfume similar to lemon. Another attraction for this plant that is so popular and unknown at the same time.

And now it is time to know in depth the care of Callistemon. Some that will not complicate our lives at all, and that will allow us to enjoy a bush that is as resistant as it is grateful.

1. A sunny location, essential for its flowering

Unlike shade bushes, Callistemon wants as much sun as it can get. And if it is in full sun, even better. Finding a location with good lighting is synonymous with abundant flowering. Therefore, placing it facing south should not worry us. If we can’t plant it in this location, it’s also not serious. The only thing we need to know is that its flowers will be less abundant.

If we want to ensure its well-being in the cold months, it is also a good idea to plant it in front of a wall. Any of these vertical elements will act as protection from the wind during the winter.

2. The temperature, an aspect to watch

Given his perfect location, it’s easy to guess Callistemon and care when it comes to grades: he loves the heat and doesn’t suffer with it.

However, be very careful as it is not as cold tolerant. In fact, and although it supports thermometer drops of up to -10 degrees, it is not the ideal scenario for it. Chaining several days with recurrent frosts can ruin our plant, and knowing how to recover a plant after a frost will be useless: it is more than likely that it will die. For this reason and to avoid it, it is essential to mulch it in autumn and cover our bush with a thermal protection blanket.

3. A fresh and slightly acidic soil, two important details regarding the Callistemon and its care

Although Callistemon can grow in a universal substrate to use and even in poor soils, it appreciates a point of acidity in the substrate. For this reason, and although it is not a requirement in its cultivation, it is advisable to use a substrate for acid plants.

Improves drainage efficiency using Verdecora Brand volcanic clay

But even more important than the type of soil is to guarantee our bush that the ground is fresh, well aerated, fertile and fundamental! have efficient drainage, especially if we grow it in a pot. Due to its origins, the Callistemon or Pipe Cleaner does not tolerate excess water.

4. Irrigation, undemanding care except in very hot months

Due to its origin, Callistemon is one of those shrubs that could be in any ranking of drought resistant plants. However, let’s not lose sight of the fact that during its flowering times it is essential that we water regularly without flooding. In the summer months, in addition, we will have to guarantee that the soil is always minimally moist without trusting the surface.

The rest of the year, our Tube Cleaner can live only on sporadic watering if it is in a pot; and from rainwater if planted directly in soil.

5. A regular subscriber, the task of autumn

Another of the cares of the Callistemon that we must not neglect to enjoy its striking flowers. Coinciding with the two flowering times, it is important to apply a regular dose of fertilizer that allows our bush to have all the nutrients it demands.

Use our Verdecora Brand liquid guano humus fertilizer in the care of Callistemon in spring

The ideal for the tube cleaner is to opt for an organic fertilizer, such as earthworm humus or guano. And, although in autumn it can help us to apply the first one so that it is released gradually, in the spring months it is advisable to choose a liquid one that we can mix with the irrigation water.

6. A transplant every two years, to contemplate in the care of the Callistemon in a pot

Although it is important to know when to transplant a plant, in the case of Callistemon we must have a specific guideline if it is in a pot: every two years maximum, and always coinciding with the beginning of spring.

Just as important as using the right substrate is changing it to pots slightly larger than the ones it had, and giving it that vital drainage that we mentioned before.

7. Pruning, essential to promote the flower

The last of the care of the Callistemon that we must contemplate, and that is intimately linked with its flowering. Once this is finished, pruning the flowers is key to increasing their size in the next season. A task that should be done at the beginning of autumn, and whenever the nights are not cold.

Otherwise, the Pipe Cleaner needs no pruning: its ungainly appearance is part of its charm.

As you can see, both the characteristics of Callistemon and its care make this wonderful bush a firm candidate for any type of garden or terrace. A plant that will give us its singular beauty without hardly demanding anything.

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