Eucalyptus Plants Buying & Growing Guide

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Types of Eucalyptus Trees

With over 700 varieties of this Australian native to choose from, finding the perfect eucalyptus plant for your needs is easy. These popular members of the gum tree family range in size from small potted plants to majestic giants over 60 feet tall. Attractive and aromatic, eucalyptus plants can easily become the stars of any landscape. Here are a few reasons garden enthusiasts love eucalyptus plants:

  • Emit a pleasant menthol-like fragrance, pretty flowers, and evergreen foliage.
  • Some varieties are grown for their showy bark that changes colors.
  • Many eucalyptus plants will add 6 feet or more to their height each year for their first 10 years.

Eucalyptus Plants for Sale

Planting and Care

Eucalyptus Trees

Planting instructions

Local growing guidelines will help you care for your eucalyptus plant. Following these additional suggestions can provide you with years of enjoyment from your plants.

Some eucalyptus varieties tolerate light shade, but all of them love the sun. As long as they have good drainage, the plants will do well in both dry areas and wetter climates. They are not picky about soil makeup.

Plant eucalyptus in spring or fall when there is less stress on your new planting. Water the plant before planting. Dig a hole slightly larger than the root ball and deep enough for the crown to be even with the surrounding soil. Hold the plant upright while gently filling the hole back in. Be careful of the fragile roots while tamping down the soil. Water again deeply.

For container plantings, choose a pot at least two feet in diameter. Use quality potting soil and ensure there is sufficient drainage. Monitor your plant’s growth as eucalyptus plants can fill their container with roots and may need to be potted up.

Watering and nutrients

Eucalyptus plants are known for being drought-resistant. New plantings may need heavy watering and a light mulch until established. Once deep roots are set, light watering should suffice in very dry climates. In wetter areas, you may not need to water at all. Potted eucalyptus have higher water demands as the containers can dry out.

Eucalyptus doesn’t like most fertilizers and the extra phosphorus they contain. Instead they’re content to get their nutrients from the soil. You may lightly supplement potted eucalyptus plants with low or no phosphorus fertilizers.

Pruning

Eucalyptus leaves

Eucalyptus is generally low maintenance. If your plant becomes too tall or messy, you may consider some light pruning. Branches that become too heavy or damaged may also need removing as the plant ages. If your plant has pest or disease issues, a heavier pruning session is an option.

Pests and diseases

Eucalyptus plants are hardy, but they can become stressed by pests or diseases. Regular inspections can find problems early and keep damage to a minimum. Some pests hide in fallen leaves, bark, and branches. Clear them out annually as a good preventative measure.

Psyllids or plant lice are the most common eucalyptus pest. They suck the eucalyptus sap, depleting and disfiguring the plant. Psyllids rarely cause catastrophic damage by themselves, but they do attract additional culprits. A plant that’s been weakened by psyllids can attract eucalyptus long-horned borers. These pests bore into the plant’s inner layers to lay eggs. Their ravenous larvae hatch and can kill a plant within weeks. Removing damaged or infected areas of a eucalyptus plant may help slow the process.

Some fungi attack eucalyptus as well. Powdery mildew, heart rot, canker, and crown rot are just a few. When caught early, powdery mildew is controllable with fungicides, such as neem oil. The other fungus types are harder to stop and are often a death sentence for the plant. Removing and burning affected parts and even whole plants may keep the disease from spreading.

Frequently Asked Questions

What growing zones are best for eucalyptus plants?

Eucalyptus plants thrive in growing zones 8-11. Potted specimens can be grown down to zone 4. These pots must be brought inside and sheltered from the cold weather. Select eucalyptus varieties are able to withstand freezing temperatures, even when planted outside.

Which kind of eucalyptus should I choose?

Eucalyptus has a wide range of varieties to choose from in both tree and shrub forms. It usually comes down to personal preference. Pick those suited to your growing zone, your garden, and your reason for wanting eucalyptus. These reasons might include shade, firewood, decoration, or heavy oil production.

How long do eucalyptus plants live?

Many eucalyptus plants in Australia have lived for 250 years or more in the wild. Some varieties self-seed and can create their own groves in just a few years. Domestic eucalyptus can also live long with continued care and maintenance. It is common for them to provide decades of enjoyment for their owner.

Does eucalyptus make good firewood?

Many people grow eucalyptus for wood production alone. The fast annual growth makes for a quick and inexpensive harvest. The wood burns clean and hot and is often favored over other types of firewood. Eucalyptus is a dense hardwood that sheds moisture and is prone to being brittle. As such, it is not a favored building material.

Is eucalyptus edible?

Koala bears may make you think that eucalyptus is both edible and delicious. Their special digestive system detoxifies the poisonous leaves that are their only source of food. Humans can’t share in this diet as studies show that all parts of the plant are toxic to people and most other animals.

11 Types of Eucalyptus Trees

1. Argyle Apple

Argyle Apple

Scientific Name: Eucalyptus cinerea

Mature Size: Up to 50 feet tall

USDA Hardiness Zone: 8-11

Light: Full sun

Water: Low water needs

Soil: Well-draining

Flower Color: White

Special Features: Drought tolerant

This eucalyptus tree is native to southeastern Australia. It is also commonly known as the silver dollar tree because it has silvery blue-green leaves that are round when young, giving them the look of big silver coins. When they take this shape, they are commonly used as decorative foliage in cut flower bouquets and floral decorations. As they mature, the leaves become elongated and narrow and develop into a deep green color.

This evergreen tree has a long life expectancy, with good tolerance of drought and exposure to high winds. It has an attractive red-brown bark, which gives the tree an ornamental quality. This eucalyptus has a rounded growth habit, and during spring, it produces an abundance of clustered blossoms amongst its foliage. It grows best in hot climates but can be grown in cooler regions in a container that will need to be brought indoors over winter. A container will greatly reduce the tree’s expected height. This tree thrives in moist soil, but it will tolerate sustained periods of drought with no noticeable damage to the plant.


2. Rainbow Gum

Rainbow Gum

Scientific Name: Eucalyptus deglupta

Mature Size: Up to 240 feet tall

USDA Hardiness Zone: 10-11

Light: Full sun

Water: Average moisture needs

Soil: Well-draining

Flower Color: White, yellow

Special Features: Multi-colored rainbow bark

It’s not hard to see where this tree gets its common name from, as the summer bark looks as though it has been painted in an array of rainbow watercolors. The usual bark is orange-brown with a smooth texture, but this then peels off throughout summer to uncover a series of random multicolored streaks. Due to its beautiful bark, it is widely planted as an ornamental tree, but it is also mass cultivated for the production of pulp to make white paper. The rainbow gum tree is the only type of eucalyptus tree that grows natively in the northern hemisphere and is the only eucalyptus tree that grows in a rainforest habitat.

The tree is native to Papua New Guinea, Indonesia, and the Philippines. The tree has lance-shaped foliage and produces white and yellow blossoms at various points throughout the year, depending on its location.


3. Mountain Gum

Mountain Gum

Scientific Name: Eucalyptus dalrympleana

Mature Size: Up to 70 feet tall

USDA Hardiness Zone: 8-10

Light: Full sun

Water: Average moisture needs

Soil: Well-draining, acidic

Flower Color: White

Special Features: Award winner

This fast-growing eucalyptus tree is native to Australia. Its defining feature is its smooth creamy white and gray bark, which flakes off periodically. The ovate foliage of this tree is copper-green when young, but matures into a deep blue-green, and has a dropping style. The tree has a distinctive eucalyptus scent, with subtle hints of cinnamon.

Clusters of white blossoms appear amongst the foliage in summer, often with a second bloom in fall. This tree grows well in full sun or partial shade and has a long life expectancy. It has received the Award of Garden Merit from the Royal Horticultural Society (Royal Horticultural Society).


4. Tasmanian Snow Gum

Tasmanian Snow Gum

Scientific Name: Eucalyptus coccifera

Mature Size: Up to 50 feet tall

USDA Hardiness Zone: 7-10

Light: Full sun

Water: Average water needs

Soil: Fertile, acidic,

Flower Color: White

Special Features: Peppermint scented

This stunning tree is native to Tasmania, hence its common name. It has beautifully elegant bark, which is smooth and colorful. The bark has a marbled effect with long streaks of gray, cream, and pink, stretching across the twisted branches. The foliage of this tree hangs from bright red stems and is heart-shaped when young but develops into a lance shape when mature. The leaves have a sweet peppermint fragrance, which is amplified when they are crushed between fingers. This tree is able to withstand exposed conditions, and it is also quite tolerant of frost, and drought, though it would prefer moist soil. It produces small creamy white blossoms in clusters throughout summer.


5. Snow Gum

Snow Gum

Scientific Name: Eucalyptus pauciflora

Mature Size: Up to 50 feet tall

USDA Hardiness Zone: 9-11

Light: Full sun

Water: Average water needs

Soil: Acidic, fertile

Flower Color: White

Special Features: Twisting branches

This eucalyptus tree has elegantly twisted branches that are covered in highly ornamental bark. The bark is creamy-gray but peels away in narrow strips to reveal smooth orange or green patches. New growth on the tree appears in bright red, which makes the tree very colorful when taken as a whole. The foliage has a glossy texture and is gray-green. The leaves have a fresh eucalyptus scent and provide the backdrop for clusters of white flowers that are produced through spring and summer.

This tree should be planted in a sheltered position to protect it from drying winds. It will grow best in moist soil, though it is tolerant of drought. This tree will grow in a wide range of climates as it can tolerate both hot and cold temperatures.


6. Alpine Snow Gum

Alpine Snow Gum

Scientific Name: Eucalyptus pauciflora subspecies niphophila

Mature Size: Up to 25 feet tall

USDA Hardiness Zone: 7-10

Light: Full sun

Water: Low to average water needs

Soil: Acidic, well-draining

Flower Color: White

Special Features: Award winner

This plant, native to southeastern Australia, is small for a eucalyptus tree and can take the form of a small tree or a large shrub, typically growing to between 10 and 25 feet in height. Its gently twisting branches are covered in smooth gray-brown bark, which peels away in long ribbons to reveal stretches of green. The foliage is blue-green when it emerges, but transforms to a glossy gray-green in adulthood. Summer sees large clusters of frilly white flowers arrive on the plant, which can have a fluffy aesthetic.

This tree is drought-tolerant, though it does prefer moist soil. It requires well-draining soil as it will not survive in boggy conditions. It is a good choice for coastal planting as it fares well in windy conditions and is tolerant of salt. This tree may struggle with low temperatures when young, though once established, it is more able to cope with a variety of climate conditions.


7. Candlebark

Candlebark

Scientific Name: Eucalyptus rubida

Mature Size: Up to 100 feet tall

USDA Hardiness Zone: 7-10

Light: Full sun

Water: Average water needs

Soil: Well-draining, fertile

Flower Color: White

Special Features: Cold hardy

This tree can be medium or large in size, having a mature height of anywhere between 30 and 100 feet. The bark of the tree is smooth and creamy, which peels off in ribbons colored in various shades of pink, orange, and brown. Young foliage on the tree is round in shape, with a blue-gray color. These young stems and leaves are popularly used in bouquets and floral decorations, though as the foliage matures, it becomes long, narrow, and green-blue.

This tree is one of the hardiest types of eucalyptus, being suitable for growing down to USDA hardiness zone 7, and can tolerate snow and heavy frost.


8. Jounama Snow Gum

Scientific Name: Eucalyptus pauciflora subspecies debeuzevillei

Mature Size: Up to 30 feet tall

USDA Hardiness Zone: 6-11

Light: Full sun

Water: Average moisture needs

Soil: Fertile, well-draining

Flower Color: White

Special Features: Award winner

This Australian native is a small to medium-sized tree with an open habit. It can have one or several main stems. The bark of this tree is pale brown and peels off in narrow strips to reveal patches of green, gray, white, and cream. The foliage of the tree is large, silver-green, and has a broadly ovate shape. Blossoms appear in clusters among the foliage in summer, in creamy white.

This is a hardy eucalyptus that can tolerate low temperatures, and it also fares well in exposed conditions in coastal locations. It prefers moist soil though it can tolerate drought. The tree has been the recipient of the Award of Garden Merit from the Royal Horticultural Society.


9. Spinning Gum

Spinning Gum

Credit to David Hawgood

Scientific Name: Eucalyptus perriniana

Mature Size: Up to 30 feet tall

USDA Hardiness Zone: 8-10

Light: Full sun to partial shade

Water: Average water needs

Soil: Acidic

Flower Color: White

Special Features: Mint scented

This Australian native takes the shape of a large shrub or a small tree, typically growing to between 20 and 30 feet in height. The plant has a spreading habit, sometimes becoming as wide as it is tall. The gray-brown bark peels away in ribbons to reveal patches of green, white, and gray. The young foliage of the tree is popular among florists as it has an attractive rounded shape. The leaves also give off a sweet fragrance, reminiscent of mint.

Though best grown in full sun, this eucalyptus can adjust to a position of partial shade and will tolerate a range of poor soils.


10. Narrow-leaved Peppermint

Narrow-leaved Peppermint

Scientific Name: Eucalyptus nicholii

Mature Size: Up to 50 feet tall

USDA Hardiness Zone: 8-10

Light: Full sun to partial shade

Water: Average water needs

Soil: Average, well-draining

Flower Color: White

Special Features: Peppermint scented

The narrow-leaved peppermint tree is named after its slender leaves and the peppermint fragrance they give off when crushed. The tree is native to eastern Australia, though it is now commonly cultivated in the western United States, including California. It has a vigorous growth habit with upward reaching branches. It typically has a slender silhouette, which is enhanced by its narrow draping foliage, which dangles elegantly from bright red stems.

Clusters of white flowers adorn this tree from summer right through to fall. The tree is drought-tolerant and should be watered conservatively. It will not fare well in wet or soggy soil.


11. Cider Gum

Cider Gum

Scientific Name: Eucalyptus gunnii

Mature Size: Up to 70 feet tall

USDA Hardiness Zone: 8-10

Light: Full sun to partial shade

Water: Low to average moisture needs

Soil: Acidic, fertile

Flower Color: White

Special Features: Award winner

This upright tree is one of the fastest growing among all eucalyptus, with a final height of between 30 and 70 feet. It takes a conical shape, looking like a stretched, tall pyramid. It is densely branched with masses of closely packed foliage to create a thick canopy of leaves. When young, the foliage is rounded and silver when it is popularly used among florists for cut flower bouquets and other floral arrangements. As the leaves age, they take on a lance shape and develop into a blue-green color.

The bark of the tree has a smooth texture, and flakes away in large pieces to reveal pink-brown patches. The tree is drought-tolerant and does not require much water to thrive. It prefers fertile soil, though it will tolerate average soils. It has been awarded the Award of Garden Merit by the Royal Horticultural Society.

 

11 Different Varieties of Eucalyptus Trees