How to Grow Lophostemon–Tristania

Walking trail between Mature brush box trees (Lophostemon confertus)
Mature brush box trees (Lophostemon confertus) in Queensland Australia

Lophostemon or Tristania–commonly called brush box–is an evergreen tree or tall shrub native to subtropical regions of Australia and New Guinea. It can be grown as a shade tree or tall hedge. Where not hardy it can be grown in a cool or warm greenhouse.

Brush box–also called Brisbane box–can grow 30-50 feet tall and 25-35 feet wide. It has distinctive red-brown bark on trunks and branches and large leathery leaves that are deep green above, and pale green beneath, Small creamy white flowers occur in summer.

Get to Know

  • Plant type: Evergreen tree
  • Growing zones and range: Zones 9-15
  • Hardiness: Can withstand light frost
  • Height and width: 30-50 feet (10-15m) tall and 10-30 feet (3-10m) wide
  • Foliage: Lance-shaped to ovate, smooth bright green leaves
  • Flowers: Cymes of 3-7 small, star-shaped flowers
  • Bloom time: Spring and summer
  • Uses: Shade tree, hedge
  • Common name: Brush box, Brisbane box
  • Botanical name: Lophostem (syn. Tristania)
  • Family name: Myrtaceae
  • Origin: N.E. Australia, S. New Guinea

Where to Plant

  • Grow Lophostem in full sun.
  • Lophostem will grow in poor to moderately fertile, neutral to acidic, moist, but well-drained soil.
  • Indoors, grow Lophostmon in full or bright filtered light.

When to Plant

  • Set container-grown Lophostemon in the garden in spring or autumn.

Planting and Spacing

  • Space Lophostemon 20-30 feet (6-10m) apart.

How to Water and Feed

  • Lophostemon grows best in just moist soil.
  • Fertilize Lophostem with an all-purpose organic fertilizer in spring.


  • Trim or prune Lophostemon in summer when blooms have finished.

Growing Lophostemon Indoors

  • Lophostem can be grown as a foliage plant in a cool or warm greenhouse.
  • Give Lophostem full or bright filtered light.
  • Keep the soil just moist and apply a half-strength balanced fertilizer monthly.

Pests and Diseases

  • Spider mites may attach Lophostem when grown indoors.


  • Sow seed in spring at about 60°F.
  • Root semi-ripe cuttings in summer with bottom heat.

Varieties to Grow

  • Lophostemon confertus (Tristania confertus). Round-headed tree to 50 feet tall and 10 feet across; smooth, ovate, bright green leaves to 6 inches long; star-shaped white flowers to 1-inch across.
  • L. lacfifluus. Round-headed tree to 50 feet tall and 10 feet across; mid-green leaves to 6 inches long; small star-shaped flowers in summer.

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