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Queensland Bottle Tree: 7 Essential Plant Care Tips

The Essential Plant Care Guide for Queensland Bottle Tree Brachychiton rupestris

plant care Queensland Bottle Tree

In its native habitat in Australia, the Queensland Bottle Tree, also known as the Narrowleaf Bottle Tree, can grow to a maximum height of 59 to 65ft (18 to 20m), with a trunk 6½ft (2m) in diameter! As a houseplant, these trees can reach 6 to 10ft (1.8 to 3m) with proper plant care. 

If you want to grow your Bottle Tree outdoors, make sure you live in Hardiness Zones 8, 9, or 10, as these trees will not survive in temperatures below 35°F (1°C). (Don’t know your Hardiness Zone? The United States Department of Agriculture has created an interactive Hardiness Zone map to help you determine in which zone you live.) When grown in the correct outdoor conditions, the tree offers a respite from the hot sun, since the canopy can extend anywhere from 16 to 40 ft (5 to 12m) in diameter – perfect for shade on a hot summer day!

As a container plant, the Queensland Bottle Tree is great for bonsai culture! The roots on a young plant forms a thickened caudex when the root system is exposed. However, if bonsais aren’t your thing and you prefer something more low maintenance in terms of plant care, the tree will grow straight and produce a canopy of thin, palmate leaves – which look like a palm with outstretched fingers! 

In the spring, older leaves will start to yellow and fall as new growth starts. As the tree matures, you may even begin have cream-colored flowers bloom in late summer or fall. However, Queensland Bottle Trees are incredibly slow growing, and the formation of its distinct bottle shape may not be visible until the tree is 5 to 8 years old.

Plant Care

1. Light
  • Bottle Trees prefer full sun, but they will grow in partial shade
2. Water
  • Allow soil to dry between waterings, then thoroughly saturate
    • Bottle Trees are incredibly drought tolerant both in container culture and in the landscape
    • Lix’s Pro Tip: I usually wait about 2 weeks between waterings
      • When it is about time to water, I stick my finger a knuckle deep into the soil
      • If the soil is dry, it’s time to water
      • If it is still moist, I wait another day or two
3. Temperature & Humidity
  • Maintain indoor temperatures above 50°F (10°C)
    • If planted outdoors, temperatures should not drop below 35°F (1°C)
    • Make sure you live in the appropriate Hardiness Zone for Bottle Tree cultivation!
  • Bottle Trees tolerate wide swings in humidity without harm
4. Potting & Repotting
  • In container culture, use any type of well-draining soil
    • Lix’s Pro Tip: I used my cactus and succulent potting mix
    • Bottle Trees can tolerate being slightly root-bound, as this will stunt their growth accordingly when grown as a container plant; however, you should replace the soil every other year or two
  • If you choose to plant your Bottle Tree outside, be sure to choose either a clay, sandy, or loamy soil mixture for optimal plant health
5. Pruning & Propagation
  • Little pruning is needed; a central leader encourages the trunk to thicken and create the ‘bottle’ shape
    • Bottle Trees do have a vertical growth habit
      • If you are growing yours as a houseplant, periodic pruning is needed to keep the height in check
    • Pruning is best done in the late winter to early spring as new growth starts to emerge
      • Lix’s Pro Tip: I pruned mine to develop – and maintain – the canopy
6. Fertilizer
  • For proper plant care, feed once a month during growing season – spring to early fall – with a balanced, water-soluble fertilizer
7. Pests & Diseases
  • Bottle Trees have little to no problems with disease or pests
  • However, when grown indoors, they can be prone to spider mites and mealybugs – especially if there are other infested plants nearby

Gallery Of My Queensland Bottle Tree

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