Bottle Brush advice please

msmarion(9aPort St Lucie)March 4, 2009

The neighborhood we now live in is filled with bottle brush

trees. There must have been a sale back in the '80's! LOL The one across the street seems to have gall on some of the branches on the east side of the tree and it seems to only bloom on the south west side. My neighbor is wondering what to fertlize it with. Told her I'd ask here for good advice.

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Any food for acid loving plants just like you give your hibiscus etc. only problem with bottle brush is it get's full of fungus like the oak trees, given a nice name like spanish moss or air plant, but it's fungus all the same and over time if left go like on big oak trees it will kill the tree but it can be cured by spraying with liquid copper...

    Bookmark   March 4, 2009 at 10:06AM
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Spanish Moss and/or air plants(Tillandsia) are in the bromeliad family and are not a fungus. They are not a parasite or fungus and will not kill a tree. Mistletoe will as it is a parasite.

    Bookmark   March 4, 2009 at 2:59PM
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Oh contrare...I have seen big oaks consumed by spanish moss and dead,dead, dead, over time yes it does kill tree's, we get out in the real Florida in our many state parks and see the devistation, the air plant type is on my oak tree and also getting on evergreens in my landscape and I spray it with liq. copper, I have seen first hand what it will do, and what it has done at a former home on my bottle brush tree, even with constant spraying of liq, copper.( in time if left go it will completely smother the tree)

    Bookmark   March 5, 2009 at 10:32AM
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fagopher(zone 5)

From wikipedia:

"It can grow so thickly on tree limbs that it gives a somewhat "gothic" appearance to the landscape, and while it rarely kills the trees it lowers their growth rate by reducing the amount of light to a tree's own leaves. It also increases wind resistance, which can prove fatal to the host tree in a hurricane"

So... I understand, it might damage the tree but indirectly.. I find it pretty nice on a large tree.. When there is not excessive quantity of it.

    Bookmark   March 5, 2009 at 11:28AM
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Susie - The gall on your neighbor's Bottle Brush tree is "normal", not that it belongs there, but I've never seen one without it. Have her trim the dead stuff, balancing the tree, to get some new growth. I have two of them in our garden and have never fertilized either one in eleven years. Also, the County park across the street has dozens of them and they fertilize nothing.

For the rest of you - Spanish Moss does NOT kill trees, not initially at least. Spanish Moss, Ball Moss, and related Tillandsias are adventitious plants. They will find a tree that is already in decline and grow there as the available sun permits. Spanish Moss, because of it's length as it grows, will hasten that decline once it gets established.

    Bookmark   March 5, 2009 at 1:14PM
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Your addressing the wrong person, I'm not the orig. poster nor the one with the neighbor?? but when this stuff blows around this is how it spreads to other tree's, bushes etc. and it is a fungus and harmful to tree's bushes,it comsumes a tree over time, and don't let anybody tell you other wise, when fully comsumed the tree can not make new growth, it does die, when I see it I spray asap on any of my plants..

    Bookmark   March 5, 2009 at 2:30PM
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Sorry Susie, I didn't scroll all the way back up. However, Spanish Moss is not a fungus and will only grow where there is plenty of sunlight, i.e. a tree already in decline. There are any number of landscapes where I've watched Spanish grow for decades and not kill anything. True, the wind will spread it around, but anywhere it blows into a deep, shady spot it won't survive very long.

I wonder if you're confusing Spanish Moss with Dodder - Cuscuta europaea - which is a parasitic plant that kills everything it lands on.

    Bookmark   March 5, 2009 at 3:13PM
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msmarion(9aPort St Lucie)

Thanks Ricky. She's an elderly lady so I'll prune it for her. I really didn't think it needed fertlizer but thought I should pose the question as she asked it.

    Bookmark   March 5, 2009 at 5:51PM
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JerryatTreeZoo(Z10 So Fla)


Just what do you mean by gall? Ball Moss and Spanish Moss are one thing, but true galls are another. Bottle Brush are prone to woody galls. They look like a woody tumor that sometimes has a profusion of twiggy branches call a Witch's Broom. If it is this woody gall, make sure you sterilize your pruners/saw after you work on the tree. It is a systemic disease that has no cure and will eventually kill the tree.

If it is one of the mosses, just pull them off if you want, or copper works too.

    Bookmark   March 5, 2009 at 10:47PM
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No I am talking about this Spanish Moss, which I have personally seen many old tree's consumed by, out in our beautiful state parks..

And this spanish moss, "Bigfoot" that the park rangers made for a boyscout troup camping one weekend..

You see I do know what I'm talking about.. and while you may think it is pretty, it is still a fungus..and a killer

    Bookmark   March 6, 2009 at 9:59AM
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"spanish moss" is a plant, specifically a the epiphytic bromeliad tillandsia usneoides and is related to the pineapple. The trees in the first picture have had it growing there for decades and on a healthy live oak its not only harmless but preferable for its wildlife value. It shelters animals from predators and the elements, gets used in nests, and when it falls helps trap moisture in the soil. And of course masses on live oaks is the very image of the old south. As the legendary biologist Archie Carr said, "A live oak without spanish moss is like seeing a bishop in its underwear!"

    Bookmark   March 6, 2009 at 1:11PM
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I took those pics. and if you look closer you will see some branches completely bare of any foliage, which is what happens over time until the tree is completely smothered, as we have seen on hundreds of them in our natural state parks, nothing on the tree's but this moss, nothing else killed them but this.. when the tree finally falls down, then the forestry dept. cuts them up, fire wood is sold in the parks we have over 100 state parks and have visted many, many and will be leaving in a few weeks for yet another, as this is where we choose to camp, in the real Florida..all I know is I'm keeping this off of my plants & Oak tree as much as I can, I've witnessed the devastation first hand as on a bottle brush tree at our prior home, up the street,it was a gift from our builder, and turned out to be more trouble then it was worth, so none of these at our present home..we do all our own landscaping/planting( 3 different homes now) after 29 years here in FL. I know something about our plants & trees.

    Bookmark   March 6, 2009 at 2:17PM
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The website for the University of Florida explains very well what Spanish Moss is and it's habits.

    Bookmark   March 6, 2009 at 3:56PM
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Me and the little wife have worn out the old mattress after all these years of bliss and are going green for our new mattress. As per the Edis. web site I beleive we are going to stich some flour sacks togeather and stuff them with
Spanish Moss. No more elec. air. cond. just the comfort of
sleeping on natures own bed side a/c system Spanish Moss.
Red Bugs and chiggers need not apply.

    Bookmark   March 7, 2009 at 12:31AM
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horse_chick(Sunset 26)

As a horticulturalist, I can assure the OP that Spanish and Ball moss are NOT fungi. They are epiphytes, or air plants. Yes they can damage a plant but that is from weight of the moss and (more then likely) the host plant being in decline to begin with. Large amounts of Spanish Moss with cut down on photosynthesis to help hasten this process.

    Bookmark   March 7, 2009 at 10:37PM
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My bottle brush trees don't look healthy. In addition to tillandsia, there are hard round pea sized little balls all over the branches, with a hole through it so it looks like a wooden bead. What is that? after rubbing some off I see little holes in the branch, I have a bad feeling that an insect bored into the branch. What is going on and what should I do to save the tree?

    Bookmark   April 5, 2011 at 7:58PM
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I need a couple of bottle brush limbs for my parrots. I live in Naples

    Bookmark   July 7, 2011 at 4:09PM
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I agree 100% with Suzieq....I have lived in Florida for many years...and I've seen what moss does to trees. It will drop and/or blow from one tree to another...healthy or not...and slowly take over till the tree looks awful and then dies out. The 'experts' might say it doesn't kill the tree...but I live in the woods and I've seen what it does to mine.

    Bookmark   March 7, 2014 at 7:19AM
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