The eucalyptus is a quick growing, beautiful and beneficial tree native to Australia, also referred to the “gum tree” (from the sap it emits from wounds). Eucalyptus tree leaves are known for their many uses in modern medicine specifically for breathing troubles associated with colds and bronchitis.
You’ll want a full sun location that drains well and is far from other competing plants. They are adaptable to many different types of soil, but will not tolerate constant standing water. Early Spring or Fall is the most recommended time to plant a new tree.
In Ground Planting:
1) Dig your hole twice the width of the root ball, and just as deep.
2) Try to take as much care as you can not to rough up the roots when you remove the tree from its pot. Eucalyptus roots are quite sensitive, they do not like to be disturbed so there is no need to spread out the roots when you place it into the hole.
3) Eucalyptus trees may require some soil amending at the time of planting if there is an abundance of clay or sand content to it. For heavy clay soils, mix in some good organic matter like aged cow manure at 25-50% of the ratio of the clay soil. For highly sandy soils, adding peat moss or compost will help retain soil moisture.
4) Hold the tree upright to where the tip of the root crown is level with the soil surface. Gently backfill the hole (remember to be delicate with those roots). When the hole is partially filled, soak the soil, let it settle, then finish backfilling to the top of the root ball. Repeat several times until full, watering between layers.
5) Apply a 2 inch layer of mulch at a distance of about 2-3 feet around the trunk of the tree. DO NOT let the mulch touch the trunk of the tree as this can promote fungus and rot. Shredded wood mulch works well or a 3 inch layer of pine straw can also be utilized.
Potting a young eucalyptus tree is widely encouraged and can be easily cared for in cooler climate areas with a few basic steps.
1) Select the appropriate pot for your new tree. Typically going up 1-2 pot sizes is recommended so there is not an excess of moisture being retained in the potting soil (Ex: If the tree purchased is in a 1 gallon pot, go up to a 3 gallon size). Traditional round pots can be used but the roots are likely start circling the inside, requiring constant repotting. Good drainage holes in the pot are essential to the tree’s survival (this is also another benefit of going only 1-2 pot sizes up). These drought tolerant trees tolerate drying out more than staying wet.
* If caring for your new tree in a pot at first with the intention of putting it to ground, select a semi-large, cone shaped pot. This way it can easily be transplanted to its permanent home.
2) Another key to good drainage is the correct type of potting soil used. Start with a porous, loose potting medium good enough to support the roots and retain just a slight amount of moisture. This can be found at your local garden center or nursery and is fairly inexpensive.
*Pro Tip* Moisture control soil is NOT recommended for this tree.
3) Potted or not, eucalyptus trees require FULL SUN. Try to have it in a sunny, south facing window to keep it happy and healthy. Keep the tree outside as much as possible during the summer months.
4) If you’re planning on keeping the tree potted, it’s a good idea to repot every spring into a slightly larger pot size.
(In Ground): Eucalyptus are drought tolerant, but for their first season it/they will require a regular watering regiment to assist in getting fully acclimated. Be sure to keep your soil moist but NEVER saturated. Using your index finger is a good way to tell if the tree is ready for another drink of water or not. Stick your finger into the soil near the tree and if it still feels moistened, leave it be. If it’s dry and sandy to the touch, give it a good watering. Mulch is very beneficial especially in the Summer season where water may evaporate much more quickly and it will also help combat competing weeds that might grow nearby. Watering regularly will not be as necessary after the trees first season, the normal rainfall should be sufficient but in extended periods of drought, it may need some extra water.
(Potted): Eucalyptus will need to be watered regularly to keep the soil moist (but NOT soaking). Potted trees can dry out more quickly than the landscape so be sure to water just enough until you see it escaping the drainage holes and stop. DO NOT allow the water to remain in the tray and allow the top of the soil
(In Ground) We do not recommend fertilizing your eucalyptus tree if it is already planted in the ground.
(Potted) Eucalyptus that is potted may benefit from a slow release fertilizer once every Spring. A basic 10-10-10 formula works perfectly well.
Eucalyptus trees respond well to pruning but is not necessary for the first two seasons. When you are ready to prune, be sure to remove dead branches. Pruning is recommended in the high heat of summer, which is when the eucalyptus’ nick name “gum tree” becomes more clear. The tree will bleed out a sticky substance but do not be too concerned as the high heat of Summer will assist in the healing of the wounds much more quickly. Try to avoid pruning when it is there is a high humidity to the air as this can promote fungal infections. Wound dressing can also be utilized in the removal of larger tree branches to prevent infections. Potted eucalyptus can be pruned/shaped at any time to maintain desired shape and size.
Some species such as the Rainbow Eucalyptus shed back their bark to reveal a splendor of colors making them quite an attractive addition to any property. Adding a eucalyptus tree to your home can provide multiple benefits: repelling insects, medicinal use and sinus relief. Birds and small mammals are drawn to the tree and also assist in the pollination of certain species of eucalyptus that is known for producing “gum nut fruit.” The trees have been known to be very prolific growers and average a lifespan of 250+ years! You can also create a new and exciting shower (or bath) experience by hanging fresh eucalyptus leaves in the bathroom where the steam can release an aromatic, healing vapor to open up your lungs. There are many benefits and rewards that come with adding a eucalyptus tree to your home whether it be to crush up the leaves for the soothing oil or repelling irritating mosquitos and ticks.