Callistemon is a genus of shrubs in the family Myrtaceae, first described as a genus in 1814. The entire genus is endemic to Australia but widely cultivated in many other regions and naturalised in scattered locations. Their status as a separate taxon is in doubt, some authorities accepting that the difference between Callistemon and Melaleuca is not sufficient for them to be grouped in a separate genera.
Callistemon species have commonly been referred to as bottlebrushes because of their cylindrical, brush like flowers resembling a traditional bottle brush. They are mostly found in the more temperate regions of Australia, especially along the east coast and typically favour moist conditions so when planted in gardens thrive on regular watering. However, two species are found in Tasmania and several others in the south-west of Western Australia. At least some species are drought-resistant and some are used in ornamental landscaping elsewhere in the world.
Although one of the older Callistemon cultivars, Callistemon 'Violaceus' shown here is typical of some of the excellent, colourful bottlebrush cultivars and hybrids that have become available in recent years. Similar cultivars include 'Purple Splendour', 'Purple Cloud' and 'Mauve Mist'. All of these form dense, bushy shrubs 2-3 metres tall by a similar spread, producing yellow-tipped purple brushes in mid to late spring (October to November).
They are hardy shrubs which will withstand at least moderate frost and which flower best in a sunny position. Like most Callistemon cultivars, C.'Violaceus' produces viable seed which germinates easily. However, because of seedling variation, any plants produced from this seed will not be identical to the parent plant and cannot be called 'Violaceus'. Plants produced from cuttings (which usually strike readily) will produce genetically identical plants to the parent.
Many callistemons can tolerate less than perfect drainage but usually perform best in gardens with reasonable drainage and regular availability of water. Callistemons respond well to annual fertilising after flowering and are not as sensitive as some other Australian plants to phosphorus.
This post is part of the Floral Friday Fotos meme.