Posted: 27/04/2013 at 18:39
Hi Brian 6,
Bottlebrush plants are not that hardy although I see from your coastal location the garden centre may have assumed they would fare better.
My Callistemon is two years old now and got left outside in the border with a label that told me it was fully hardly. It then got snowed on and was left for dead until I dug it up and discovered it was still alive below ground, so I potted it up and it grew back that summer although not enough to flower. Leaving it in the pot for a second winter, it again looks dead possible due to me leaving it in a spare room for protection where it promptly dropped all its leaves again.
So..there is hope yet for yours.It does take a bit of time for them to start showing new life although I'm not sure about the winters outside. My Dad had a lovely one in his garden for a number of years that wasn't too effected by winters but I don't know if some varieties are better than others or if we just have harsher winters now.
I'm going to be overwintering mine in my unheated greenhouse next winter (when I buy one) in the hope that I might eventually see some top growth get further than new shoots.
Be patient and good luck