This popular evergreen tree has a dense, multi-trunked, low-branching, pendulous growth habit and a moderate growth rate. Mature specimens can reach 25- to 30-feet tall in 30 years, but most trees are seen 15- to 20-feet high and wide. The narrow, light green, 3- to 4-inch-long leaves tend to grow only at the ends of the long, hanging branches, creating a weeping effect. The cylindrical, bright scarlet blooms, three to five inches long and 1-inch wide, are composed of multiple, long, bristle-like stamens. These blooms appear in great abundance March through July, less so throughout the year. The flowers are followed by persistent woody capsules that are not noticed unless you are close to the tree.
Scientific name: Melaleuca viminalis
Pronunciation: mel-uh-loo-kuh vim-min-NAY-liss
Common name(s): Weeping bottlebrush
USDA hardiness zones: 9B through 11 (Figure 2)
Origin: native to the east coast of Australia
UF/IFAS Invasive Assessment Status: not considered a problem species at this time and may be recommended (North, Central); caution, may be recommended but manage to prevent escape (South)
Uses: hedge; deck or patio; specimen; screen; container or planter; street without sidewalk; parking lot island < 100 sq. ft.; parking lot island 100–200 sq. ft.; parking lot island > 200 sq. ft.; tree lawn 3–4 feet wide; tree lawn 4–6 feet wide; tree lawn > 6 ft. wide; highway median
Height: 15 to 20 feet
Spread: 15 to 20 feet
Crown uniformity: irregular
Crown shape: weeping, round
Crown density: open
Growth rate: moderate
Leaf arrangement: alternate
Leaf type: simple
Leaf margin: entire
Leaf shape: lanceolate, linear
Leaf venation: parallel
Leaf type and persistence: evergreen
Leaf blade length: 3 to 4 inches
Leaf color: pale green
Fall color: no color change
Fall characteristic: not showy
Flower color: bright red
Flower characteristics: very showy; numerous stamens that emerge in clusters on long spikes
Flowering: spring, summer, and sometimes into early winter
Fruit shape: round; cup-like capsule
Fruit length: < ½ inch
Fruit covering: dry or hard
Fruit color: brown
Fruit characteristics: does not attract wildlife; not showy; fruit/leaves not a litter problem
Trunk and Branches
Trunk/branches: branches droop; not showy; typically multi-trunked; no thorns
Bark: dark gray, furrowed, and shaggy or exfoliating in vertical strips
Pruning requirement: needed for strong structure
Current year twig color: gray
Current year twig thickness: medium
Wood specific gravity: unknown
Light requirement: full sun
Soil tolerances: clay; sand; loam; slightly alkaline; acidic; well drained
Drought tolerance: high
Aerosol salt tolerance: moderate
Roots: not a problem
Winter interest: no
Outstanding tree: no
Ozone sensitivity: unknown
Verticillium wilt susceptibility: resistant
Pest resistance: resistant to pests/diseases
Use and Management
Weeping bottlebrushes should be grown in full sun, preferably on moist, well drained soil. Although they can tolerate some drought, best flowering and growth is obtained with ample moisture and regular fertilization. Be sure the soil drains well, as roots often rot in wet soil. The brittle wood of weeping bottlebrush may make it unsuitable for windy areas, but this is usually not a problem in most locations. They are not suitable for street tree planting due to the weeping growth habit, but will make nice plantings along streets in wide medians. Lower branches can be removed so cars can fit beneath in parking lots, where the trees grow well in the restricted soil space. Occasional pruning of pendulous branches will be required for vehicle clearance. One of the best uses is for lawn specimens, or screens on large properties, with a regular maintenance program.
The cultivar 'Red Cascade' has large red flowers in spring and fall. Melaleuca citrinis and Melaleuca rigidus are hardy in the southern part of USDA hardiness zone 8b.
Propagation is by seeds or cuttings.
Mites and witches broom can be troublesome.
Root rot in wet soil, and canker. A twig gall, formed in response to a fungus (Sphaeropsis tumefacens), can disfigure the tree. The tree is often short-lived due to disease.
Koeser, A. K., Hasing, G., Friedman, M. H., and Irving, R. B. 2015. Trees: North & Central Florida. Gainesville: University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.
Koeser, A.K., Friedman, M.H., Hasing, G., Finley, H., Schelb, J. 2017. Trees: South Florida and the Keys. Gainesville: University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.