The Garden Community for Garden Lovers

London, United Kingdom Gb

My standard bottlebrush shrub has got new shoot growth at the tips of the branches (approx 5cms), do I need to pinch these off to encourage flowers or simply leave? It hasn't flowered properly for a couple of years, despite being otherwise really healthy, and I'm at a total loss to know what to do for the best - I think I read somewhere that pinching these Spring shoots helps the flowering but I pinched them out 2 seasons ago and got no flowers, so i left them last year and got no flowers but a much bigger, mishapen shrub. Does anyone have any suggestions?
I have attached a photo (for some reason they've come in sideways?) in case anyone out there can help me bring this lovely little shrub to its full potential!

Img_1679 Img_1680



Don't nip out the new growth, your shrub is not going to flower this year. Mine has flower buds on, and the new growth always appears beyond the flower, in a sort of tuft at the top, so the fact yours has new growth with no evidence of flowers means its not going to produce this year either.

How much sun does it get? Flowering is always more successful in a full sun situation...

26 Apr, 2017


Oh no! Really? That's so disappointing. It gets full sun from sunrise until about 2.30pm - is that not enough? It did flower beautifully for the first 2 seasons after I planted it, which is why I thought it must be something I'm doing wrong.

Thank you for the heads up anyway - at least now I won't have any expectations. Such a shame....

28 Apr, 2017


Well, if it was in the same situation (in the ground, where it is now) right from the start, and it bloomed two years running, it is odd that its stopped blooming. Pruning or tidying it at the wrong time can mean you don't get flowers the following year, so is it possible you reshaped or cut it back during its second year, late, well after it flowered? That might have disrupted flowering the following year, but doesn't explain why its not flowered this year. Any pruning of these should be done immediately after the main flowering is over, usually end of May, and not cut again after that.

Has something in the environment changed, like a shrub or tree getting bigger, or a taller fence, something that might create more shady conditions for it so that its not now getting as much sun as it was.

28 Apr, 2017


Yes, it's been in the same place since I bought it but there has been a self-seeded Holm Oak bush growing next to it which had slowly grown to almost the same height and would have blocked a lot of the direct sunlight on that side of the Bottlebrush for a couple of hours each day. I hadn't thought it was a major problem because the sun did still reach the top quarter of the Bottlebrush. We did, however, cut that down about a month ago and it has created a lot more air and light to that side of the tree...

Is it a possibility that that has been just enough to stop it blooming - it would make sense as when I first planted the Bottlebrush the Holm Oak was a much much smaller bush!

Perhaps there's hope for next year?

28 Apr, 2017


Yes, I'd say there is - we don't get massive amounts of heat and sunlight in the UK, so really, this plant is one that requires full sun to flower well.

28 Apr, 2017


Oh dear! I should have put 2 and 2 together before now really. At least I know now and won't be so puzzled and disappointed this year.

Many thanks, Bamboo, for all your help with this. much appreciated.

28 Apr, 2017


Keep surrounding plants low!

28 Apr, 2017


It also looks like it gets sheared regularly, and the side branches that develop after shearing often don't bloom, especially if they are from the second or third shearing in the growing season. I would let these shoots grow freely, and not shear them. When they stop growing in late summer, they should be tipped with fat buds containing flower buds, especially if side dressed with washed seaweed. After they bloom next spring, you can cut them back to just above where they sprouted. Several shoots will start from just below each cut, which will bloom from the tips the following spring.

29 Apr, 2017


That's great advice guys, thankyou so much. Just one question: How do I keep its relative shape and size? i.e. if it doesn't flower, then I won't be pruning it and if I don't prune it until, say, next summer after (hopefully) blooming, it will have grown substantially... at the moment it is a robust standard of just over 5ft and I don't think its current position will sustain anything too much bigger. Is there a way of retaining it and it still flowering?

In the past, I have only pruned it lightly for shaping in late Autumn and under the brushes when it did bloom. I must admit to giving it a light trim last year in late summer as it had got very unruly and we'd had no flowers. Has that effected it long term?

My sister had a huge bottlebrush tree in her garden, did nothing to it and it was magnificent!

Thanks for all your help everyone... I am eventually going to nail this!

29 Apr, 2017


This is why I don't like these standard versions of some plants, because they get out of shape and top heavy if you don't prune, yet don't flower very well if you do prune. The fact you clipped it back in summer or autumn will have prevented flowering - if you must keep it pruned to shape, then the only time to do that is immediately after the main flowering is over, so if you want to do it this year, do it in mid May, as if it had finished flowering. To keep it in bounds, you'd need to cut off twice as much as you think it needs now, to allow for regrowth - whether that means it won't flower at all next year isn't something I can predict, but only cutting it in May will give it a better chance.

29 Apr, 2017

How do I say thanks?

Answer question


Not found an answer?