Eucalyptus plants have silvery blue-green leaves that give the plant’s distinct ‘menthol’ fragrance when bruised. This evergreen tree can grow up to 60 feet in its natural habitat in Australia. But, when planted in home gardens, it usually grows 6-10 feet high.
Eucalyptus trees are best planted during spring and feature reddish-brown bark peeling on the smaller branches.
Are you planning on getting a eucalyptus plant for yourself? Learn everything you need to know in this complete guide.
Botanical Name: Eucalyptus cinerea
Common Name: eucalyptus, silver dollar tree, argyle apple
Plant Type: Tree
Hardiness Zones: 8-11 USDA
Sun Exposure: Full sun
Soil Type: Well-drained
Soil pH: Acidic, neutral
Height: 6–53 ft. tall
Bloom Time: Summer
Flower Colors: White, red
Native Area: Australia
What’s a Eucalyptus plant?
Most eucalyptus plants are native to Australia, but they have been introduced to places all over the world. Hardy in USDA zones 8-11, eucalyptus plants become tall trees when grown outdoors, growing up to 8-10 feet per year and featuring a distinctive peeling bark. Considered evergreens, eucalyptuses can live up to 250 years in the wild.
If given enough light and proper care, eucalyptus can grow indoors. Although, these plants like to summer outdoors, where their fragrant half-moon-shaped leaves enjoy the breeze. Because they have a fast growth rate, pruning can help contain them temporarily.
Eucalyptus leaves are typically dark green, glossy, thick, and almost leathery; they grow sideways on a straight trunk. Under adequate conditions, eucalyptus trees produce white flowers and gum nut fruit.
Types of Eucalyptus Plants and Shrubs
There are hundreds of eucalyptus species. Some of the most popular are:
- Eucalyptus gunnii: Also known as cider gum, this eucalyptus specie has a better cold tolerance than other eucalyptus plants
- Eucalyptus platypus: Also known as moort, this eucalyptus plant can tolerate drought, cold, and heavy soils.
- Eucalyptus globulus: also known as blue gum, it features smooth bark and can adapt to different growing conditions.
- Eucalyptus cinerea: Also known as silver dollar, they have bluish coin-shaped leave that makes a perfect addition to cut flower arrangements.
- Baby Blue Eucalyptus: Besides being eye-catching, this eucalyptus tree offers natural tick, flea, and other pests protection for your garden.
Eucalyptus plant care
Growing and caring for eucalyptus plants is easy as they only require a little attention. Although, proper planting, location, and adequate care are essential to keep in mind while growing these plants.
Planting them in well-drained soil and ensuring they’ll receive full sunlight are critical requirements. Eucalyptus plants are recommended to be planted in spring.
However, if there’s a threat of frost, you should wait until the winter months are over and the soil has sufficiently warmed before planting them.
Eucalyptus plants like a lot of light, so set your eucalyptus somewhere it can receive at least 5-6 hours of direct sunlight daily.
Likewise, indoor eucalyptus plants should be kept near a bright window where they can receive enough light.
Once established, eucalyptus plants can be drought-tolerant. However, it’s best to avoid being left dry for extended periods, or it’ll drop its leaves.
A good rule of thumb is to water your plant when you can stick your finger into its soil and feel dryness at the end of your fingertips.
Eucalyptus plants come from arid climates, so they do well with average or moderate humidity, making them adequate candidates for indoor living.
A humidity level of around 40% is typically enough to keep these plants happy. There should be no need to mist the leaves like other humidity-loving houseplants require.
These plants grow best in dry and sunny climates like Australia’s savannas.
Even when grown indoors, they need warm temperatures. The ideal temperature is between 65ºF and 71ºF for best growth.
Eucalyptus plants do not tolerate cold weather and can not survive sustained temperatures below 50ºF.
Eucalyptus plants can tolerate most soil types, although they need good drainage.
For container eucalyptus, use a well-draining potting mix. A slightly acidic neutral soil pH is best.
If you are growing your eucalyptus plant outdoors, it likely will not need fertilizer.
Although container plants will deplete nutrients quicker, you can use a low-nitrogen fertilizer throughout the active growing season.
Eucalyptus Plant Propagation
Eucalyptus trees are mostly grown from nursery plants or purchased as seeds. These trees do not usually flower or produce their own seeds.
Eucalyptus plants can also be propagated via cuttings, though it’s not always successful. Propagating via cuttings is a convenient and inexpensive way to get a new plant, mainly because eucalyptus plants can be challenging to come by at garden centers.
The best time to take cuttings from a eucalyptus tree is when the tree is between two and 11 months old. Since rooting mature stems can be tricky, aim to take your cuttings in late summer.
Here’s how to propagate eucalyptus from cuttings:
- Prepare a small container or pot of one part perlite and three parts composter tree bark.
- Add a slow-release fertilizer by following the label instructions for the pot size. Moisten the growing medium.
- Cut a stem around 5 inches long with at least 4 to 5 leaves using sharp and sterile pruning sheers. Cut above the leaf node.
- Remove the lower half of the leaves.
- Dip the end cut in a rooting hormone.
- Plant it in the growing medium, nearly up to where the leaves are.
- Keep the container in a 70ºF setting where it can receive bright indirect light. Keep the soil lightly moist.
- You should notice the new growing roots after a month. At this point, you can relocate your plant to a sunnier spot and space out watering gradually.
- Once the weather is warm enough, take your plant outdoors for progressively longer stretches before planting it in the garden.
Eucalyptus Plant Common Problems
If you meet this plant’s requirements, it should grow healthy and without problems. However, in suboptimal conditions, it can develop these common issues:
Eucalyptus plants are relatively free of any significant disease or pest issues. However, you might come across eucalyptus long-horned borers, especially if you have a stressed plant.
Oozing sap, foliage discoloration, and holes in the back are signs of an infestation. Remove the damaged area immediately, as insecticides are ineffective against borers.
This is a common sign of excessive moisture.
Besides brown leaves, if you notice your plant’s leaves are curling or dropping as well, a little too much moisture is likely the issue. In this case, up your watering to keep the plant’s soil moist but not soggy.
Brown leaves can also be a sign of diseases, mainly fungal infections. Remove that part immediately if just a small area is affected, or treat it with an appropriate fungicidal.
Eucalyptus Plant Toxicity
Eucalyptus extracts and essential oils are often found in alternative medicines and over-the-counter drugs. However, eucalyptus (as a plant or oil) can be toxic when consumed, so keep it away from curious small children and pets.
As with all essential oils, eucalyptus oil should never be used on pets, as it can cause diarrhea, vomiting, seizures, diarrhea, and other symptoms. It is also recommended that pregnant and breastfeeding women avoid using direct applications of eucalyptus oil.
Also important to know is that eucalyptuses have been found to interact with medications, particularly those that are processed by the liver.
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Melissa Askari is a biologist and master gardener who is known for her contributions to the field of sustainable living. She is a regular contributor to Planet Natural, a website that provides information and resources for gardening, composting and pest control. Melissa's work focuses on promoting environmentally-friendly practices and helping people create beautiful, healthy gardens using natural methods. With her expertise in both biology and gardening, Melissa is able to provide valuable insights and advice to gardeners of all levels. Her passion for the natural world is evident in her writing and her dedication to promoting sustainable practices that benefit both people and the planet.