why bottlebrush plant dying

Bottle Brush Plant Dying? (9 Amazing Ways to Revive It!)

Bottlebrush plant dies mainly due to root rot which is caused by overwatering. Iron deficiency also can kill your Bottlebrush plant. Bottlebrush plants would also die in case of a Verticillium wilt infection, which is caused by a fungal pathogen. Bottlebrush plant would also die if it suffers from transplant shock.

The bottlebrush plant is native to Australia. The plant is grown in gardens for its peculiar yet pretty red-colored flowers. The bottlebrush plant is also called Callistemon.

The plant gets its name due to the flowers. The flower looks like a bottle brush cleaner. The plant is beginner-friendly.

The plant does run into issues. Let’s look at the problems and the ways to fix them.

Why is my Bottlebrush turning yellow?

Bottlebrush leaves turn yellow due to Iron Chlorosis(Iron deficiency) and improper watering. Bottlebrush leaves would also turn yellow if there’s a severe scale infestation. Compacted soil is another reason why foliage turns yellow in Bottlebrush.

Iron Chlorosis

The deficiency of Iron in the soil leads to the production of leaves that lack chlorophyll. This condition in Bottlebrush is called Iron Chlorosis.

Leaves become yellow and dried. This is followed by the death of the branches and stems. Iron Chlorosis happens in two situations, viz., Improper watering and Compacted soil.


If you’re overwatering the plant, the plant shows this via leaves. Leaves become soft, limp, and eventually yellow. Overwatering also leads to root rot.

Water only when the plant needs some. You can check the soil with your fingers if you’re unsure. Water only when the top 2-3 inches of the soil feels dry.

bottle brush leaves drying out

Underwatering also causes similar symptoms. Leaves become yellow but get dried up.

How often should you water Bottlebrush plants?

If your Bottlebrush trees are young, you may need to water them weekly. Bottlebrush plants drink a lot of water.

Water the plant slowly so even deeper roots get to drink some. To decrease water evaporation you may want to add a 2-inch layer of organic mulch.

Compacted soil

Compacted soil is another reason why people see yellow leaves on their Bottlebrush plants. Compacted soil is soil with low air spaces.

This may happen due to various reasons. Clay soil has the least aeration among soils. Plants need oxygen to efficiently absorb minerals.

Failure to absorb the necessary nutrients leads to Iron Chlorosis.

Fixing Iron Chlorosis

Iron Chlorosis can be fixed. Make a mixture of 1 ounce Iron chelate and 1 gallon of water. Here’s how you add Iron chelate to the soil.

What soil does a Bottlebrush plant need?

Planting your tree in the right type of soil goes a long way in keeping the tree healthy. What kind of soil does a Bottlebrush like?

Bottlebrush trees can live in most soils. They thrive best in loamy, moist soils. You need to make sure the soil is well-draining.

If the soil has a good amount of clay, it doesn’t drain well. You can add compost to the soil to create ideal soil conditions.

Scale on Bottlebrush

A severe scale infestation will also turn the Bottlebrush leaves yellow. Initially, yellow spots are seen on the affected leaves.

Armored scales are small, only about 1/8th of an inch. They form clusters on the stems and leaves of the plant.

These scales feed on the sap in the leaves and stems. They deform and cause yellowing of the foliage as they feed on the sap.

Leaves become dry and dead. Eventually, if the infestation is not controlled branches of the plant become brown and scorched.

To treat:

  • Prune the affected branches as soon as you see them. This helps to control the infestation when it’s just starting.
  • You can identify scale infections early by hanging sticky cards around the affected plant.
  • Crawling larvae of scale look orange/yellow and appear as specks. Once you identify them on the plant, spray it with horticulture oil.
  • You may need to spray the infected plant several times with gaps of 10 days for efficient eradication of scales.

Bottlebrush leaves curling

Bottlebrush leaves curl mainly due to Verticillium wilt disease. Deformities and discoloration is seen in the leaves, which eventually turn yellow/brown.

Verticillium wilt

Verticillium wilt is a fungal disease that enters the plant via roots and makes its way to the stem. It causes destruction along the way.

As the infection travels via the vascular system, it causes deformities and decoloration of the leaves. Leaves become curled and yellow/brown.

The best way to confirm Verticillium wilt infection is by cutting the infected leaves and inspecting them. You’ll see dark circles in the cross-section if the plant’s infected.

To fix:

  • Try to increase the resistance of the plant by caring well. Water and feed the plant on time. A healthy plant can fight off this disease.
  • The second way is to dispose of the plant carefully. Do not plant anything that’s susceptible to Verticillium wilt in that area.

Bottlebrush dropping leaves

Bottlebrush plants drop leaves when the plant suffers from root rot. Bottlebrush plant also drops leaves in the winter, which is quite natural.

Bottlebrush plant drops leaves if the plant is suffering from Root rot. Root rot is seen in plants when there are waterlogged conditions.

See if the soil has good drainage. Poor draining soil also causes waterlogged conditions. Replace the soil if this indeed is the problem.

Do Bottlebrush trees lose their leaves in winter?

Winter chilling causes browning on the Bottlebrush tree. As long as the branches are intact, the plant will recover.

No need to panic, just keep caring for the plant as you do normally and it should bounce back. It is a hardy plant but may find some conditions harsh.

Bottlebrush dying after transplant

Bottlebrush plant dies after transplant due to transplant shock. Transplant shock is seen in Bottlebrush plants if the transplant is poorly done.

One needs to be careful when transplanting plants as the roots are delicate. If the roots are damaged in the transplant, the plant suffers from transplant shock.

Don’t put the plant directly under sunlight after the transplant. Move the plant from partial shade to bright sunlight eventually, if you want.

Make sure you water your Bottlebrush thoroughly after transplanting it. Wait patiently, sometimes plants recover in days.

Care for your plant normally and it should revive soon.

Bottlebrush plant not flowering

Bottlebrush plant stops flowering when it doesn’t get adequate sunlight. Untimely pruning also hinders blossoming in the Bottlebrush plant. Prune only after the plant’s done with the heavy blossoming.

Bottlebrush plants are kept for their pretty blossoms. What if the plant doesn’t flower? That’s not an ideal situation, let’s see how to fix it.

Light is the main factor that influences blossoms in the Bottlebrush plant.

How much sun does a Bottlebrush plant need?

Bottlebrush thrives in both full sun and partial shade conditions. If you give your Bottlebrush plant five hours of direct sun exposure, it’d blossom just fine.

You can also provide the plant with filtered sunlight throughout the day. This ensures that the plant stays safe even in summer.

Observe where your plant is located and see how much sun the plant gets. If the plant is in the shade, this is probably the reason why you don’t see blossoms on your Bottlebrush plant.

See what’s blocking the sunlight and try to fix the issue. If the shrubs around the plant are blocking the sunlight, cut back their branches.

Untimely pruning

This also leads to the failure of blossoming Bottlebrush plants. Pruning is only beneficial when done at the right time.

Prune Bottlebrush plants just after the heavy blooming is done. You shouldn’t prune the tree before that as it leads to the loss of buds.

Heavy flowering is seen in spring and summer. You may want to prune the plant after this phase. This helps the tree blossom seamlessly.

How do I get my Bottlebrush to bloom?

Make sure your Bottlebrush plant gets enough sunlight. Do not prune the plant at the wrong time and it should blossom perfectly.

For best flowering, the tree needs at least 5 hours of direct sunlight.

Callistemon sawfly

Callistemon sawfly larvae harm Bottlebrush plants greatly. I pray that you don’t find yourself in this situation.

Callistemon sawfly larvae are tiny caterpillars with pointy tails and translucent bodies. They damage Bottlebrush trees cosmetically.

These larvae eat up all the juicy parts of the leaves, leaving only the leaves. This makes the leaves look like a skeleton of veins.

Even if these larvae damage most parts of the plant, they can still recover.

To treat

To treat the infected plant you can cut off the branches with larvae on them. Doing this regularly keeps a check on their population.

If controlling them mechanically is not doable, you can use eco-oil like Neem oil. Spraying this oil controls the larval population efficiently.

Tip: If you want to keep the ecosystem healthy, try to attract the birds which predate these larvae.

Bottlebrush tree leaves turning brown

Bottlebrush leaves turn brown due to frost damage. Bottlebrush leaves also turn brown when the plant is infected by Verticillium wilt.

Sap-sucking insects like Aphids, Spider Mites, and Scale can turn the leaves brown in Bottlebrush trees. Leaves of improperly watered plants turn brown eventually.

Leaves of an overwatered plant wilt and turn brown. Leaves of an underwatered plant become dry and turn brown.


Bottlebrush plants are hardy. Problems arise only when one fails to care for the plant properly.

Improper watering is the main reason why Bottlebrush trees run into issues. So, you need to make sure that you’re watering the tree properly.

Also, make sure the soil is draining excess water well. Check the tree regularly for any insect pests. Treat the tree if you find any such pest.

Happy Gardening 🙂