Dwarf Bottlebrush 'Little John'

Callistemon viminalis

Family: Myrtaceae (mir-TAY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Callistemon (kal-lis-STEE-mon) (Info)
Species: viminalis (vim-in-AY-liss) (Info)
Cultivar: Little John




Foliage Color:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Characteristics:

Unknown - Tell us

Water Requirements:

Drought-tolerant; suitable for xeriscaping

Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Where to Grow:

Suitable for growing in containers


36-48 in. (90-120 cm)

4-6 ft. (1.2-1.8 m)


4-6 ft. (1.2-1.8 m)

6-8 ft. (1.8-2.4 m)


USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 C (20 F)

USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)

USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 C (30 F)

USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 C (35 F)

USDA Zone 11: above 4.5 C (40 F)

Sun Exposure:

Full Sun


Handling plant may cause skin irritation or allergic reaction

Bloom Color:


Bloom Time:

Blooms repeatedly



Other details:

May be a noxious weed or invasive

Soil pH requirements:

5.6 to 6.0 (acidic)

6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)

6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)

7.6 to 7.8 (mildly alkaline)

Patent Information:

Unknown - Tell us

Propagation Methods:

From semi-hardwood cuttings

From hardwood cuttings

From seed; direct sow after last frost

Seed Collecting:

Bag seedheads to capture ripening seed


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:


Buckeye, Arizona

Bullhead City, Arizona

Chandler, Arizona

Goodyear, Arizona

Green Valley, Arizona

Maricopa, Arizona

Paradise Valley, Arizona

Peoria, Arizona

Phoenix, Arizona

Queen Creek, Arizona

Scottsdale, Arizona

Tucson, Arizona

Acton, California

Aliso Viejo, California

Concord, California

Fairfield, California

Knights Landing, California

Lemoore, California

Martinez, California

Mountain View Acres, California

Oildale, California

Red Bluff, California

San Clemente, California

San Diego, California

San Francisco, California

San Jose, California

Stockton, California

Wildomar, California

Bokeelia, Florida

Delray Beach, Florida

Lake Wales, Florida

Lake Worth, Florida

Wellborn, Florida

Winter Springs, Florida

Savannah, Georgia

Baton Rouge, Louisiana

New Orleans, Louisiana

Slidell, Louisiana

Vacherie, Louisiana

Las Vegas, Nevada

Las Cruces, New Mexico

Conway, South Carolina

College Station, Texas

Cypress, Texas

Dallas, Texas

Elgin, Texas

Galveston, Texas

Georgetown, Texas

Harlingen, Texas

High Island, Texas

Houston, Texas

Humble, Texas

Huntsville, Texas

Irving, Texas

Katy, Texas

Kyle, Texas

League City, Texas

Lindale, Texas

Lockhart, Texas

Mont Belvieu, Texas

Nome, Texas

Richmond, Texas

San Antonio, Texas

Spring, Texas

Sugar Land, Texas

Bremerton, Washington

show all

Gardeners' Notes:


On Feb 7, 2017, drini76 from Paradise Valley, AZ wrote:

I have to say I need help with these plants, I currently have about 12 plants throughout my property and they have always been yellow, not all of them but most of them. How much water should these plants be receiving and how frequently? They are currently all on a drip line and receive the same act of water. Some are green and the others are a burnt yellow color. What can I do to improve the health of these plants? Any help would be helpful.


On Apr 13, 2016, RedBluffKat from Red Bluff, CA wrote:

We live in zone 9b in interior California. We can have severe frosts as well as 110 degree summers. Little John frosted back the first winter at the tips but came back. It is now 3 years old and doing well. It has not frosted back since the first winter. They have all grown tremendously. I water during the summer, once a week, deeply. It is a lovely shrub with grey green leaves and red flowers. The hummingbirds and bees are attracted to it. I recommend this plant, especially if you love bottlebrush but don't want a tree sized bush.


On Mar 29, 2016, coriaceous from ROSLINDALE, MA wrote:

The Florida Exotic Pest Plant Council has listed this species as a Category ll invasive. It can damage ecosystem functioning and impoverish natural habitat.

It has naturalized in California, Arizona, and Florida.


On May 21, 2015, AvianQuest from Cypress, TX wrote:

Here in Cypress which is on the northwest side of Houston, Texas the Little John variety is very commonly planted and many mature plants reaching 3 foot high have been through many winters as low as 18 degrees without any protection.


On May 16, 2015, Anton15 from Hong Kong,
Hong Kong wrote:

Im charmed by this little Callistemon 'Little John'.

I always wanted a Callistemon but found the habit and leaf of most of them messy almost weedy and uninspiring out of flower, then I saw Little John in Australia New South Wales in a municiple planting of natives and couldn't believe how lovely it was.

What I particularly liked about it was its thick prostrate woody stems, like a proper little tree in miniature and the darkest ruby red flower brushes all held neatly upright topped with stunning dense silver leaves. Like a natural bonsai. The silver and red is particularily striking in that climate.

I have had mine in the ground since winter and even though still tiny they are covered in flowers at this the beginning of our wet season. It looks... read more


On Mar 29, 2015, LoginPassword from Gainesville, FL wrote:

It's a beautiful plant, but do NOT try to grow it if you live in USDA zone 9a or colder. Even zone 9b is quite borderline. Instead, grow the much more cold-hardy cousin, Callistemon Rigidus (Bottlebrush tree), and keep it pruned small if you want a smaller tree. It is quite similar but bigger. Callistemon Rigidus is not uncommon in northern Florida, southeastern Georgia and the northern Gulf of Mexico coast areas. It remains evergreen there. However, Callistemon Viminalis "Little John" will not survive in these regions at all. You need to be at least as far south as Tampa, FL/Orlando, FL to grow the Dwarf Bottlebrush 'Little John' in the southeastern United States, or practically as far as Brownsville in Texas. I cannot comment on the western United States but 'Little John' should b... read more


On May 13, 2014, Owlman22 from San Diego, CA wrote:

I know that the Dwarf Bottlebrushes take a lot of sun, but what do they do if they don't have full sun all the time? I have a spot that receives ample late spring and summer sun, but in fall and winter, they are often in the shadows. I have one bush now that is close to the area I'd like to plant in, but it receives quite a bit more sun. I live in San Diego, CA about 10 miles from the coast.

Thanks for your help!


On Apr 22, 2014, gondwanan from Lake Wales, FL wrote:

I have grown 'Little John' over several years in multiple client garden settings. Here in Central Florida (9b), in enriched, fast draining sandy soil, it is definitely NOT drought tolerant when establishing but thereafter thrives on average water, sun and light fertilization. This last mild winter (low mid-30's F) kept plants steadily growing and 'Little John' has bloomed off and on over a very extended season. Past winters have shown foliar damage when exposed to high 20's but with complete recovery. It appears quite hardy and does not seem susceptible to pest problems. High marks!


On Jun 12, 2013, thistledome from near Brisbane,
Australia wrote:

I live in sub-tropical Australia ( but still have to put up with winter temperatures of up to -5C) and have about 15 Little Johns in my garden. Once established they are drought resistant but all callistemons love water (some grow naturally along river banks and some in the streams themselves). They can be a bit slow to establish but given fertiliser 2 times a year (they will tollerate higher phosphorous fertiliser) they will give a wonderfull display in spring and summer.Trim after flowering (behind old flowers).

If these plants are expensive then they are easily grown from seed. Take the finished seed pods from the plant, put in a paper bag and wait for the small seeds to come out of the pods and plant.


On Apr 25, 2013, palebo7 from Dallas, TX wrote:

Ive grow regular Bottlebrush in Dallas, TX and it's fine

I just bought 3 of these dwarf ones at Jackson's on Lemmon, for $8.00 for 1 gal. plants - great price !

I hope by getting them established in the spring, they'll be fine by winter - I'll let yall know !


On Feb 1, 2013, vossner from Richmond, TX (Zone 9a) wrote:

I've been wanting to add this shrub to my garden for a long time but the prices were so high, I just couldn't see forking out $25+ for a 2-3 gal. pot. I finally found 2 at bargain prices and planted them in full sun. I had read that they were drought tolerant but mine are very thirsty plants. Lucky for me, they are what I call "good communicators", meaning, they droop when thirsty, thus giving me a chance to correct the situation. Planted Fall 2012, I have been watering by rain or hose every couple of days to keep this plant happy. It could be that plenty of moisture is required in the begining while it gets established; time will tell. It is for sure a much misunderstood plant in my area as I see some spectacular specimens in some gardens and some quite pitiful ones as well. ... read more


On Sep 19, 2012, marasri from Dripping Springs, TX wrote:

I found Average Gardener's comment very helpful in deciding where to place my plant. I gamble with cold hardiness and am willing to accept some dieback on cold winters. I am 30 miles west of Austin and Central Austin is FULL of viable lush examples of this plant. It is on the a marginal range and this means that placement by a thermal mass in sun on fast draining soil will be preferable over clay in the open. I also know from reading where people are having a problem with this plant that this plant is a gamble for me. I find the negativity and self centeredness that Fire in Motion displayed very distateful. This person was not saying it was a bad plant for everyone, but was communicating to others in a similar situation that , yes, there are difficulties in growing it so take precautions.... read more


On May 18, 2012, dulceh from Del Rio, TX wrote:

I have a question not a comment but couldn't find where to post so please forgive me-
I was wondering if dwarf bottle brush is deer resistant?


On Mar 27, 2011, donnacreation from Sumter, SC (Zone 8a) wrote:

I've tried this growing this bottlebrush for several years with no sucess. In my zone 8a backyard, it dies all the way to base, even with protection. It may be viable in a desert zone 8, but not in the interior SE.


On Mar 26, 2010, tropicdude from Aledo, TX (Zone 8a) wrote:

I bought this plant last spring. It had beautiful blue-green foliage. This winter I left it in the ground and infrequently covered it. All of its leaves turned brown. It got down to twelve degrees this winter but it is surprisingly coming back now, from the bottom of the stem.


On Mar 14, 2010, thebestmissy from Fort Worth, TX (Zone 8a) wrote:

I'm still waiting to see if my plant is going to come back. We did have one of the coldest, snowiest winters on record in this area also. No signs of life yet. I hope it comes back. UPDATE: I HAVE TRIED THIS PLANT TWICE, BUT IT DOESN'T SEEM TO LIKE OUR CLIMATE.


On Mar 1, 2010, AverageGardener from Georgetown, TX wrote:

We are 40 miles north of Austin, TX, and had a very cold winter. Night temperatures were in the teens for a number of days. Our dwarf bottlebrushes turned brown. The stems break with no green showing. Advice ranges from they are dead to cut them back to the main branches. Does anyone know if they will come back?


On Feb 5, 2010, elares from Spring, TX wrote:

I bought a "callisternon citrinus" little john bottlebrush plant recently. It's planted in a large pot. How much subdued outdoor light will the plant tolerate? Reply please.


On Apr 17, 2008, marino760 from Victorville, CA wrote:

This plant is indeed more cold tolerant than zone 9. It has survived temperatures into the mid to low teens for several nights in a row here in the high desert of Southern California. The plant did loose it's leaves but came back in the spring looking better than ever.


On Feb 6, 2008, htop from San Antonio, TX (Zone 8b) wrote:

Although the plant tags and websites state that this plant is not hardy in Zone 8b, I have observed several of them growing in my area which is the colder portion of 8b for the past 3 years or more. Also, my neighbor across the street bought 3 last year after I had shown him the other plants. We have experienced temperatures in the middle 20s (nights and early mornings) each winter as well as an ice storm. The plants have not suffered any damage; however in the past, we have had colder winters. I had been hesitant to purchase any because they are expensive and I did not want to waste my money if they can't handle the cold weather here. I examined the plants I have been watching and they are fine. So, today I bought 3 one gallon-size plants. I sure hope that I did not make a mistake. ... read more


On Aug 25, 2004, smiln32 from Oklahoma City, OK (Zone 7a) wrote:

This shrub is also attractive to hummingbirds. It is a native of Australia. It prefers warm and humid environments. Prune in autumn after flowering. The pollen of this shrub can pose allergen problems for folks who are sensitive.


On Aug 19, 2004, palmbob from Acton, CA (Zone 8b) wrote:

Great small shrub excellent for landscaping (and pretty commonly used in southern California)- has flowers much of the warmer parts of the year- seems to have a flowering burst in the spring, and then later summer. Profuse flowers of dark red. and densely foliated.