Scarlet Bottlebrush : How to Grow Melaleuca Rugulosa And Care

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To grow lovely flower plants in low-effort, Melaleuca rugulosa can be a perfect choice, is remarkably easy to grow if you know the right procedure and right place. In this article, we will enlighten every single detail regarding Melaleuca rugulosa and its proper propagation method. You can get a vivid idea about its characteristics and propagation process: cuttings, pH condition, soil preparation, fertilizing, watering, humidity, moisture, temperature, and so on.

Characteristic Details Of Melaleuca rugulosa

Melaleuca rugulosa originated as an evergreen shrub in Australia that is commonly named Scarlet Bottlebrush for its scarlet-colored flowers’ bottlebrush-like shape. It grows up to 5 m high with an open, spreading tendency and peeling gray bark. The blooming period begins from November and conveys till December, occasionally in other months, and is replaced by woody capsule-like fruits with a size of 4.5–6.5 mm (0.2–0.3 in) in length. The flowers are scarlet (a shade of red to purple) in color, surmounted with yellow, and are distributed in spikes around the branches. Their branches continue to grow after flowering. The tips are 40–65 mm in diameter and 50–80 mm in length. You would find 18 to 60 individual flowers in each branch. The petals are 4.4–6.8 mm in length and fall off over time. Each flower holds 34-63 stamens.

Botanical NameCallistemon rugulosus

Melaleuca rugulosa


Common NameScarlet Bottlebrush
Plant TypeEvergreen Shrub
Mature Size5 m in height
Sun ExposureFull Time
Soil TypeWell-drained
Soil pH6.0 to 7.0
Bloom TimeSummer
Flower ColorScarlet (A Shade of Red to Crimson)
Hardiness ZonesUSDA plant hardiness zones 8B through 11
Native AreaAustralia


Preparing The Soil

Scarlet Bottlebrush, one of the plants that are too sensitive about the soil. All you have to ensure the soil is “well-drained,” as your bottlebrush tree is not one of the best humidity-tolerant ones. After getting established, the plant needs very little care since most of the varieties are both frost-tolerant and drought tolerant.

You can run a quick test to ensure whether your soil is well-drained:

  1. Dig a hole with a diameter of 30 cm (12 inches) and a depth of around 40 cm.
  2. Pour water into the hole until it fills. Then wait for it to be drained completely.
  3. Fill it again and mark the depth of water.
  4. Monitor the depth of water every hour for at least two or three hours. If your soil is perfectly wail-drained, the water level should decrease at least 2.6 cm per hour.

You can run this test in different places in your garden and choose the best “well-drained” soil you have for propagating your beautiful bottle-brush plants.

Making Your Soil Well-drained

Drainage is a quality that soil obtains naturally. Therefore, you can flourish its drainage, but it’s impossible to boost “drainage” overnight. Here is what you can do for upgrading the drainage of your soil:


  • Add the required amount of sands. (The amount will vary according to the drainage level of your soil)
  • Dig deep and mix lower soils with upper soil.
  • Treat your soil well with organic fertilizers, like, composts. Organic matters (compost, leaf mold) help nurture all the soil qualities, including drainage. Moreover, they attract the earthworms and add nutritional elements, which is very useful for growing Scarlet Bottlebrush.
  • Use soil mixtures at a 1:1 ratio for making your soil more plant-friendly.

Maintaining The pH Condition

pH is a measurement of the acidity or alkalinity condition of the soil. Melaleuca Rugulosa grows best in slightly acidic to neutral soil. Therefore, try to keep your soil pH between 6.0 to 7.0.

You can test your soil pH using very low-priced kits or probes available in the market. Here is how you should fix your soil pH if it does not meet the standard.

  • When your soil has lower pH, you can raise the alkalinity by adding a sufficient amount of pelletized limestone to your soil.
  • If your soil has higher pH, you can raise the acidity by applying Aluminum Sulfate, Chelated Iron, or soil Sulfur.
  • To maintain the acidic pH, keep your soil enriched with organic compost.

Growing From Seeds

Growing a Scarlet Bottlebrush is very simple with seeds. Firstly, you have to search for and collect some bottlebrush fruits. Each bottlebrush flower produces a fruit, a tiny and woody capsule containing hundreds of small bottlebrush seeds. They grow in clusters along with the flower and can stay there for several years until the seeds are released. Follow these instructions for growing bottlebrush from seeds:

  1. Manage the unopened seeds.
  2. Store them in a paper or plastic bag in a relatively warm and dry place. The fruit will open and release the seeds.
  3. Make your pot with 50% pot mixing and 50% soil. Keep drainage holes.
  4. Sow them in well-drained soil pots in spring.

Growing From Cuttings

You can even grow Scarlet Bottlebrush from cuttings. To have the most delicate cutting, you should :

  1. Choose a 15 cm. cutting from a semi-mature wood.
  2. Trim the leaves of the lower half of the cutting.
  3. Fill a pot (diameter 40 cm, depth 45 cm) with soil and pot-mixture in a 1:1 ratio.
  4. Plant it in your pot.
  5. Plant at least 3 cuttings in each pot.
  6. Do not expose it to direct sunlight for the first few days.

Planting Purchased Nursery Plants

To avoid the hassle of growing from seeds or cutting, you can simply purchase pot-propagated Scarlet Bottlebrush plants. You can simply plant them in a pot or ground. Follow these instructions for ease:

Planting in Ground

  1. Make a hole three times wider than your plant. The hole should be as deep as the root-end of your bottlebrush plant.
  2. Use a potting mixture at a 1:1 ratio of your soil.
  3. Carefully release your Scarlet Bottlebrush plant from the nursery pot.
  4. Do not pull roughly if any part of the root is stuck in the nursery pot.
  5. Place the plant in the hole and hold it with your right hand.
  6. Slowly fill the hole with the soil mixture by your right hand.
  7. Heavily water your plant.
  8. For boosting the root growth, choose a root Stimulator for watering.
  9. Make a 5cm high layer of wood mulch around the plant for maintaining the soil humidity.

Planting in Pots

  1. Before purchasing, ensure the pot has drainage holes.
  2. Keep in mind the flower color while choosing pots so that the pot’s color flourishes your blossom view.
  3. Place a piece of cloth or porous landscape fabric in the bottom of the pot.
  4. Add pot mixture with your soil in a 1:1 ratio.
  5. Remove the plant from the nursery container.
  6. Pour a little amount of soil in your pot first.
  7. Then Place the pot in such a way that the top edge of the root ball stays almost 2cm below the rim of your pot.
  8. Fill the pot back with your soil mixture until the soil level is the same as the top-edge level of the root ball.

Watering Your Bottlebrush Plants

Melaleuca Rugulosa, relatively a very drought-tolerant species when established. However, while there is a lack of rainfall, new plants may need some watering to maintain the required moisture so that the root system can establish itself quickly. Here’s how you should water your Scarlet Bottlebrush at different stages of its life-cycle:

Just After Planting: Your plant needs thorough watering immediately after it’s planted. You can also use a root-stimulator solution for better root growth.

During First Spring & Summer: Most of the time, the Bottlebrush plants do not need any extra-watering sessions. However, you can moderately water them once a week to maintain moisture while there is an absence of rainfall. DO NOT over-water your plants; it can lead them to death.

When Established: After the plants are established, they can handle the drought themselves. But you can treat them with a deep soak while new leaves are wilting.

Nurturing Your Plant With Fertilizers

Melaleuca rugulosa does not demand too much thorough fertilizing. But you should apply appropriate fertilizer before planting to secure your cherished outcome, “The Blossom.”

Organic fertilizers are the best ones for adding value to the soil without harming any soil and plant components.

Preparing Organic Compost

Preparing compost is very simple. Just follow these steps:

  • Take a medium-sized plastic drum.
  • Gather the kitchen wastes, grass clippings, garbage newspapers, dead leaves, and also animal dung.
  • Leave them for 7 to 15 days arranged in a pile in that drum.
  • Now, the compost is ready for use. Mix it well with your garden soil.

Applying Compost

During spring, use organic compost by making a 5cm high layer around the plant.

Using Chemical Fertilizer

Although chemical fertilizer would not help much as organic fertilizer. However, an 8-8-8 slow-release fertilizer ( a combination of humic acid, nitrogen, can be applied for the best nourishment. Or you can use a low phosphorus fertilizer to flourish its growth. You should follow the usage label for applying the right amount.

Providing Enough Light

Full sun or part shade preferred for Scarlet Bottlebrush . If you’re looking for the best flowering, ensure at least 5 hours of direct sunlight. You can also try all-day lightly filtered sunlight with a shade. You may even try morning sun with afternoon shade or afternoon sun with morning shade. Both are alright.

Preserving Moisture

Melaleuca Regulosa does not require a high moisture level when established. But immediately after planting, you should cover the soil surrounding your plant with a plastic sheet to preserve moisture as roots grow fast in a humid environment. This will take 7 to 10 weeks to form an established root.

Maintaining Temperature

Scarlet Bottlebrush can endure very high temperatures. Most of the varieties are also frost tolerant. However, the plants can be privileged by being wrapped in a sheet if freezing temperature sustains.

Pruning Your Bottlebrush Plants

Scarlet Bottlebrush does not require pruning but responds appropriately if done. They can form a beautiful shape by either growing as shrubs or as a ‘fully-sized tree. If you’re going to carry out a thorough pruning for decreasing size, the best time would be late winter or early spring. Moderate prunings can be done at nearly any season of the year. You should stop pruning approximately 2 months before the predicted first frost day in your region. A pair of sharp bypass hand pruners will be enough for this job. You should maintain the least height of 1.5 m for the recommended best look, but you may follow your own preferences for your plants.

Handling The Diseases

The usual diseases of Scarlet Bottlebrush comprise both easy-to-remedy problems and serious concerns. These problems are mostly caused by redundant moisture in the soil.

Usual Issues:

Twig Gall: This is a fungal disease, directly caused by wet soil. If you see many new twigs growing, then your plant may have twig gall. You should cut off the unhealthy twigs and dispose of them, and you must look into fixing the wet soil.

Powdery mildew:

Caused by excessive water, especially, water on the foliage. The remedy is to use a fungicide spray, and you can prevent this by watering the shrub from below, not above.

Serious Concerns:

Root Rot: Caused by wet soil. This disease is easy to prevent than cure. However, you should apply fungicides to fix it.

Verticillium wilt:

It causes the yellowing of leaves, and the branches die back. It is not so easy to get rid of. You should try with fungicides and think about migrating the tree to another location otherwise.

Final Thought

Scarlet Bottlebrush, one of the easiest flower plants to propagate but has one of the most beautiful blossoms. You are more likely to obtain an excellent garden corner and eye-pleasing flower sight with minimal effort if you can follow the instructions above. So, why delay? Get your heads up now and go for preparing your soil. Happy gardening!

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