Eucalyptus Plants Buying & Growing Guide
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.
Where to Buy Eucalyptus Plants
Growing Zones: 9-11
|Planting and Care|
|Sunlight||Eucalyptus loves full sun, 6-8 hours of light a day. A few, including spinning gum, can handle partial shade.|
|Watering||These trees are drought-resistant, needing supplemental watering only in the driest of conditions once established.|
|Fertilizing||Eucalyptus doesn’t need supplemental nutrients generally unless potted. Avoid fertilizers with phosphorus.|
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.
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.