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How to Grow and Care for a Rainbow Eucalyptus Tree

rainbow eucalyptus trees outdoors

Paul Dionne

A tall tree with a rainbow array of colors seems too good to be true, but the world is a pretty wonderful and amazing place. The rainbow eucalyptus tree, also known as eucalyptus deglupta, is the only eucalyptus tree that's native to the Northern hemisphere. It's found in the Philippines, New Guinea, and Indonesia, where it thrives in a hot, humid climate.

That said, though, you can grow a rainbow eucalyptus tree of your own if you have the right conditions. You'll need to live somewhere with warm temps and plenty of rainfall or humidity. In the United States, rainbow eucalyptus trees mainly grow in Hawaii, southern California, Texas, and Florida. While it can grow up to 125 feet in the United States, that's about half as high as it would grow in its native environment.

Creating an environment where a rainbow eucalyptus tree thrives is possible, you just have to make sure to put a lot of time and love into it. With the right conditions and a green thumb, you can adorn your yard with a stunning, rainbow tree of your own.

  • Botanical Name: Eucalyptus deglupta
  • Common Name: Rainbow eucalyptus, rainbow gum, Mindanao gum
  • Plant Type: Tree 
  • Mature Size: Up to 100 ft. tall, 60 - 100 ft. wide
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun
  • Soil Type: Moist but well-drained
  • Soil pH: 5.6 to 6.0

Rainbow Eucalyptus Tree Care

Ideally, you will keep your rainbow eucalyptus outdoors, growing in the ground. The trees can grow up to three feet a year, so it's important to give them sufficient space to spread out. As mentioned above, they do well in warm, moist climates, and they will not withstand frost.

Make sure to plant your tree in an area that gets full sun, like a southern corner of your yard. If you don't live somewhere humid, consider adding a sprinkler nearby the tree, or be ready to water often. Eucalyptus trees want moist, but not soggy, soil, so don't soak the area constantly — just make sure the soil is evenly moist.

In terms of actually getting a tree into your yard, you'll probably want to start from seed indoors, as the trees don't like transplanting (which causes root disturbance). Using a large container, place the seed in moist soil, placing it in full sun. Once you notice it sprouting, give it a few weeks to establish itself before planting in the ground.

Because these trees grow large and don't like being moved, ensure that you plant them somewhere away from power lines and other structures that may be disturbed by their growth.

rainbow eucalyptus tree bark

Paul Richer

Best Growing Conditions for a Rainbow Eucalyptus Tree

Bright sunlight is essential to the tree's health, but it's also part of the reason the bark of the tree is so colorful. Less light will equal less color, so try to plant it somewhere extremely sunny. Humidity and soil are also important to the tree's health.

Having a humid environment is ideal, but moist soil will also help the tree grow. Water it daily for best results, but never flood the tree with water. Keeping mulch atop the soil surrounding the tree can help it retain moisture, but be careful to keep the mulch away from the actual bark of the tree.

One easy part of growing a rainbow eucalyptus tree is that it isn't very picky about the type of soil it's in. Just about anything will do, unless you know that the soil is depleted of nutrients, then you can add some fertilizer. Otherwise, it should be fine without.

How to Propagate Your Rainbow Eucalyptus Tree

You can propagate rainbow eucalyptus trees, but only when they are very young. Some studies show that cuttings from trees younger than five years old will root, but ones from other trees will not. There's a chemical in older trees that keeps them from rooting from cuttings. Remember to put your propagation in a warm, humid space for it to take off quickly.

Common Growing Problems

Thankfully, the rainbow eucalyptus plant is pretty hardy. It won't fall victim to most things like leaf spot disease or parasites, which is in part due to the fact that the peeling bark wards off pests. The tree can suffer from root rot if left in soggy soil for too long, so be sure to cut back on watering if you notice the soil remains wet for a long time.

Article Sources
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  1. Davidson, John. “REPRODUCTION OF EUCALYPTUS DEGLUPTA BY CUTTINGS.” Forest Research Station, September 13, 1973.