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How to Care For and Pot a Eucalyptus Tree

eucaliptal image by Antonio Herrera from

The eucalyptus, or eucalyptus cinerea, is a fast-growing tree native to Australia. In its natural environment, the tree can reach mature heights up to 60 feet with a 10- to 15-foot spread. In the first two to three years, the eucalyptus can reach heights up to 25 feet. This rapidly growing evergreen produces bluish-green foliage with a lightly fragrant scent. With no dormancy period, the eucalyptus grows all year long with no reductions for season changes. Planting and growing the eucalyptus in a pot involves the art of bonsai. Successful potting requires the healthy reduction and maintenance of the tree to complement the potting container and the desired size.

Select the appropriate potting container for the eucalyptus. Choose a deep container with a length that is two-thirds the height of the tree. Pick a plastic container before a clay container to promote soil moisture. Ensure that the container has several holes at the bottom to promote a well-drained environment.

Prepare the soil for the eucalyptus. Mix equal amounts of nutrient-rich soil and organic compost. Place a layer of prepared soil at the bottom of the container. Remove the eucalyptus from any bindings and gently remove the excessive soil from its root system. Spread the root system to untangle any roots. Avoid pulling or tugging the roots to prevent damage. Place the eucalyptus in the center of the container and fill the container with the remaining soil. Press the soil gently around the tree to secure its upright position.

Water the newly planted eucalyptus thoroughly with a watering can. Irrigate the tree until the excessive water flows from the drainage system and allow it to rest. Position the tree in a warm location that receives at least six to eight hours of partially shaded to full sunlight each day. Keep the eucalyptus tree away from direct heating and cooling sources such as heating vents and air conditioners.

Feed the eucalyptus approximately once every 30 to 45 days, beginning approximately 45 days after potting. Use a well-balanced, slow-release fertilizer such as a 10-10-10 or 20-20-20 combination. Apply the fertilizer at half-strength and distribute it evenly throughout the container. Water the fertilizer in thoroughly until the water flows from the drainage system.

Irrigate the eucalyptus thoroughly and infrequently to avoid over-watering. Check the soil’s moisture levels before each watering. Stick your finger about 2 inches deep into the soil near the root system. Irrigate the eucalyptus tree when the soil feels somewhat dry to completely dry. If unsure of moisture levels, do not water. Revisit the tree in 24 hours and recheck the soil levels.

Prune the eucalyptus tree to maintain the desired size. Trim foliage and branches to promote good aeration and size reduction. Use sharp, sterile scissors or shears to complete the pruning. Use an angular cut to promote rapid healing. Avoid excessive hard pruning in one session. Reduce the tree over several pruning sessions across several seasons.

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