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Eucalyptus is everywhere. It's in our favorite cooling sheets, it's hanging in our showers, and it's a décor staple for a simple, personal touch around the home. Dried eucalyptus is a popular go-to in prop-styling for beauty products and spa-worthy bathrooms, but how do you grow the real thing? After all, you need to grow something in its original form before you can dry and arrange it beautifully.
Eucalyptus trees are favorite hangs for koalas and are native to Australia. These evergreen trees can grow up to 60 feet high in the wild, but you're more likely to find them hovering between 6 to 10 feet in American gardens. Their silvery-blue round leaves are favorites for so many.
Here's how to grow and care for eucalyptus.
- Botanical Name: Eucalyptus cinerea
- Common Name: Eucalyptus, silver dollar tree, argyle apple
- Plant Type: Tree
- Mature Size: 6–60 ft. tall, 2–15 feet wide
- Sun Exposure: Full sun
- Soil Type: Well-draining potting soil
- Soil pH: 5.5 to 6.5
- Toxicity: Toxic
Eucalyptus trees can grow rapidly (several feet in a year) if cared for properly. They love sunlight, so position them in a place that gets a good amount of sunlight, whether indoors or outdoors. They can thrive in multiple soil conditions (making them a great outdoor plant), but it's best to plant them in well-draining potting soil so that they're set up for success.
To find out when your Eucalyptus tree needs water, use the finger test. Stick your finger in the soil and if the soil is moist, skip the watering. If it's dry to the touch, then water. Eucalyptus is fairly drought-tolerant, but if it becomes too dry, it might drop some of its leaves, and then you know it's time to give it a good soaking.
Best Growing Conditions for Eucalyptus
Growing conditions for eucalyptus will vary slightly, depending on if you are planting your tree in a container indoors or outdoors in the garden.
If you're opting to plant your eucalyptus tree outdoors, you'll want to start growing the seeds indoors around 3 months before it's time to plant them outside. Your outside start date will vary based on the projected first frost for your zone. Once the seed is growing and ready to be transplanted, pick an unobstructed spot in your garden that gets plenty of sunlight. If you are planting multiple eucalyptus trees, make sure to space them apart at least 8 feet.
If you're planting your eucalyptus tree indoors, make sure your pot is big enough to accommodate this rapidly growing tree, as you want to avoid repotting mid-season. Ensure your soil is well-draining and place it in a sunny spot in your home, such as a South-facing window.
- Eucalyptus globulus, commonly known as Southern Blue Gum, is native to Tasmania but a popular variety found in California today.
- Eucalyptus Polyanthemos, known as Silver Dollar Gum, has silvery blue-green leaves that resemble a silver dollar. This is the second most common variety found in California. In some areas, it can even be considered an invasive species.
- Eucalyptus Pulchella, commonly known as White Peppermint, gets its name from its white bark and thin leaves, containing essential oils used in other minty products.
- Eucalyptus Deglupta is commonly referred to as Rainbow Gum because of its beautiful multi-colored bark. This variety of Eucalyptus is found in Hawaii, Florida, and Puerto Rico.
How to Propagate Eucalyptus
To propagate, remove a semi-woody branch from the current year's growth. Dip the bottom of the cutting in rooting hormone, then plant it in a small container with well-draining soil. Cover the top of the plant and container with a plastic bag to create a humid atmosphere. Since it will remain covered, water from the bottom of the plant by placing water in the saucer the pot is sitting in.
After about a month, remove the plastic bag and lightly tug at the cutting. If it stays put, it has rooted. If not, repeat the process.
Common Growing Problems
Growing eucalyptus from seed takes much patience and planning. You can't just put it in the ground and hope for the best. Prepping the seeds by chilling them, planting them indoors before the first frost, and safely transplanting them doesn't require as much skill as general patience and pre-planning.
Eucalyptus trees aren't prone to bugs, but the long-horned borer can be a nuisance for this particular plant, earning it the name the Eucalyptus Longhorned Borer. If you notice oozing holes in the bark or discolored leaves, remove them immediately.
If you have your Eucalyptus tree in a container outside, consider bringing it indoors for the winter so that it doesn't freeze. In fact, consider doing this for any of your outside container plants.